It is an extraordinary year.
The Shogun of Japan is cracking down on the samurai, and is obsessed with cruelty to dogs (he is known to history as the Dog Shogun). A very young Peter the Great is just about to launch his coup d'etat and transform Russia. In France, th Sun King rules over a court of unprecedented splendour and ceremonial formality. A Spanish viceroy is leaving Mexico for home, lauded in a baroque poem by Sor Juana, the greatest female poet of Latin America, a nun who may be the lover of the viceroy's wife.
In the Sonora desert of North American, a Jesuit priest and his tribe of Pima Indian converts are cultivating the soil, and are about to discover that the land across the bay is not an island but a part of the same continent. It will be called California. In Manila, meanwhile, there is a pogrom against the non-Christian Chinese. The Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica dies. He is Henry Morgan, the most notorious pirate of that age.
William Dampier, an Englishman sailing with buccaneers, lands on the desert coast of north-west Australia and writes down the first Western impressions of the strange stone-age people who gather around him on the shore. In the little-known kingdom of Siam, a Greek adventurer from Cephalonia has become the chief adviser to the king. The French are anxious to move in, and Louis XIV sends a huge glittering entourage to the other side of the world. The intrigue ends in blood and confusion.
And in far off England, a Dutch king lands in Dorset to begin the Glorious Revolution and fashion the state under which we still live.
John E Wills has written an epic and fascinating book. He immerses us in a world of wooden ships, of trade in precious metals and spices, of diverse religions and cultures. He is as sure a guide to Africa and the Netherlands as he is to Western science and Buddhist mythology.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 05 / 2001
- 162 x 240mm