John Gallagher

John Gallagher teaches history at Leeds. He is the author of Learning Languages in Early Modern England.

On​ a spring day in 1691, in what is now the town of Cēsis in Latvia, a group of local men waited to give testimony in a provincial courtroom. The case was unremarkable: a theft from the local church. One by one the men were called up by the judges, who were wealthy members of the German-speaking elite. When an old man called Mātiss took the stand, the judges noticed that the local...

Civility​ as a concept, or an ideal, didn’t take hold in England until the 16th century – when the national mood, insofar as we can speak of one, was a mixture of bravado and temerity. Eyeing the cultural achievements of France and Italy, and uneasily measuring themselves against the Romans and Greeks, early modern English thinkers worried that their customs, society and...

Fear the fairies: Early Modern Sleepe

John Gallagher, 18 May 2017

Of the thousands​ of people who visited the Buckinghamshire astrologer-physician and clergyman Richard Napier around the beginning of the 17th century, many were troubled by questions of sleep. The mother of 11-year-old Susan Blundell told Napier that her daughter was ‘now given mutch to sleeping’, and that two days before, she had slept ‘the space of 24 houres but that...

Elzābet of Anletār

John Gallagher, 22 September 2016

In the spring​ of 1579, the scribes of the Ottoman imperial chancery put together a letter addressed to ‘Elzābet, who is the queen of the domain of Anletār’. It began a correspondence between Sultan Murad III and the

most renowned Elizabeth, most sacred queen, and noble prince of the most mighty worshippers of Jesus, most wise governor of the causes and affairs of the...

How to Read Aloud

Irina Dumitrescu, 10 September 2020

It is easy to overlook how loud pre­-modern education was. Most of our evidence for more than a thousand years of teaching consists of books, and, to the modern way of thinking, books are objects used...

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