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The Royal Society of London: a different perspective on a Restoration institution

Friday, L. (2018) The Royal Society of London: a different perspective on a Restoration institution. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

The Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge is today one of the premier scientific and research institutions in the world. It was also the world’s first publicly incorporated institution dedicated to the study of nature, and it set a pattern for other learned societies throughout Europe. For historians of science it has been an organisation of enduring interest primarily for its role in the history of early modern natural knowledge. However, the diversity of its membership, its relationship with England’s monarch Charles II, and also its role in the history of the Restoration makes it an institution of far broader significance than has previously been appreciated. Supported by the Society’s meticulous record-keeping, and the variety and kinds of texts produced by various of its fellows, this thesis will demonstrate that the Royal Society was an organisation whose early history reveals a far more complex picture of the organisation which was materially impacted by the political, social and cultural contexts of Restoration England. The three main actions taken by the founding fellows in the Society’s first decade – founding, acquiring charters, publication of ‘history’ – reflect their response to the forces in England which could both help their organisation to thrive, but which ultimately nearly defeated their efforts. A greater awareness of the impact of these factors will create a different view of the Society as truly a Restoration institution.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Parish, H. and Blakemore, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanites
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:85115
Date on Title Page:2017

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