Scientific Practices in European History, 1200–1800 presents and situates a collection of extracts from both widely known texts by such figures as Copernicus, Newton, and Lavoisier, and lesser known but significant items, all chosen to provide a perspective on topics in social, cultural and intellectual history and to illuminate the concerns of the early modern period.

The selection of extracts highlights the emerging technical preoccupations of this period, while the accompanying introductions and annotations make these occasionally complex works accessible to students and non-specialists. The book follows a largely chronological sequence and helps to locate scientific ideas and practices within broader European history.

The primary source materials in this collection stand alone as texts in themselves, but in illustrating the scientific components of early modern societies they also make this book ideal for teachers and students of European history.

chapter |2 pages


chapter 1|12 pages


chapter 3|6 pages

Making sense of the cosmos

chapter 4|6 pages

Reordering the Cosmos

chapter 5|6 pages

Seeing new things: The New World

chapter 7|10 pages

Seeing new things: The heavens

chapter 8|7 pages

Novelty from experience

chapter 9|9 pages

Making experimental ­knowledge

chapter 10|5 pages

Casting a horoscope

chapter 11|12 pages

Seeing new things

chapter 12|4 pages

Systematic data-gathering

chapter 13|3 pages

Experimental philosophy

chapter 14|7 pages

Social data

chapter 15|7 pages

Trade and the physical globe

chapter 16|5 pages

Finding new phenomena: Electrical effects

chapter 17|3 pages

Electricity: Balancing the books

chapter 18|5 pages

How to make sense of ­diversity in nature

chapter 19|5 pages

Building a Newtonian ­universe

chapter 20|3 pages

Charles’s balloon ascent

chapter 21|4 pages

Lavoisier’s work on water

chapter 22|11 pages

Making chemistry rational

chapter 23|6 pages

A new phenomenon: Current electricity

chapter 24|9 pages

Human sciences: Philology and anthropology

chapter 25|4 pages

Science and industry

chapter 26|10 pages

Malthus and political ­economy