Review: Short Oxford History of Europe: The Seventeenth Century

A few months ago, I tuned out of mainstream politics and shifted my focus to history and philosophy. I started doing a lot of research for my book and wrote some reviews:

Review: The Reformation: A History
Review: Calvin
Review: Brand Luther
Review: The Dream of Enlightenment
Review: Short Oxford History of the British Isles: The Seventeenth Century
Review: Planting an Empire
Review: A Short History of Renaissance and Reformation Europe
Review: After Virtue

After I got dragged into the Charlottesville lawsuit, I lost my focus and shelved that project. I’ve recently resumed working on it while keeping this site updated with news.

We left off tracing the roots of the decline of the West to Britain and the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. This is the place and the moment in history where the historical arc of modernity began that has continued to unfold down to the present day.

Joseph Bergin’s The Seventeenth Century: Europe 1598-1715 and in particular Laurence W.B. Brockliss’s article “The age of curiosity” sheds considerable light on this process. The great watershed moment in European intellectual history occurred when the pessimistic Augustinian worldview which had dominated Western Christendom since the demise of the Roman Empire was challenged and overthrown by an anti-Augustinian worldview inspired by the rise of modern science.

The Aristotelian universe of the High Middle Ages was full of meaning, purpose and final causes. The Hobbesian universe of matter in motion stripped that out and never successfully replaced it with a sound theoretical foundation. From about 1700, Christianity began to lose its grip on Western culture and secular ideologies the most successful of which was liberalism began to fill the void.

The story of the last three hundred years has largely been the logic of liberalism working itself out and pushing Western culture toward its exhaustion and death.




About Hunter Wallace 9609 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

16 Comments

  1. I always like your history lessons. Very enlightening and we’ll researched. You ever consider becoming a history professor.

  2. I love 17th century music. I have a lot of songs, orchestral works and chamber sonatas by Purcell and Lully.

  3. Yes Hunter needs to be on the speaking circuit more. Red Ice and Mark Collett would be good exposure for him. He was on David Duke a while back-but that was a long time ago now.

    • I am very impressed with your wide-ranging knowledge. In case you don’t know him, I would like to recommend a philosopher named Edward Feser. He is a former atheist and is thoroughly steeped in Aristotle and Aquinas. He believes the Enlightenment is the worst mistake in Western History. His newest book is called “Aristotle’s Revenge.” You can find his website very quickly. One thing quite odd about him is that he is still a Neo-Con and clearly does not share our view of the JQ.

  4. I like the bit about The Netherlands and UK being the root of the decline of the west. I think this is 100% accurate.

  5. ‘The Divine Right of Kings’ in England is a misdirect. The Magna Charta (final draft ratified by the monarch, the nobles and the bishops) recognised the Royal Prerogative – not Royal Supremacy. The Reformation under Henry VIII upended England over the Royal Supremacy and the Oath of the Supremacy – for which he was promptly excommunicated by Rome as not in the least fit to rule a nation of baptised souls. The Parliamentarians under Cromwell fought Charles I for ‘the Supremacy’ with loans from the Synagogue.

  6. Hey Hunter,
    Glad to hear that you are working on your book project again. It seems that the Enlightenment/liberalism flower was planted in Europe, sprouted here in 1776, bloomed in France in 1789, and then began slowly broadcasting its seeds far and wide thereafter. 1848, 1917, etc., etc.

  7. A telling graph would have as its x axis time, say from the end of the last glacial maximum; the y axis would be “strength” perhaps based on % of world population that was white, square miles controlled, or some composite of variables. Then you would plot the strength of “the West” or perhaps better “indo European” or Aryan society with blue dots, and the strength of Christianity with red dots. You could then get an “r” value and determine the strength of the correlation of the hypothesis that “when the West is Christian, the West is strong.”

    I would argue that it is something other than Christianity that correlates with strength, namely Arta ( and for those of you who dont know what that is, it is the ancient aryan concept of universal order, truth and righteousness).

    Christianity has Arta as one of its pillars, BUT it is a religion of philosophers AND slaves! Jews AND Aryans! It has a tension in it as a result and thus is prone to siding too heavily with the weak and HAVE NOTS in opposition to the right order of society.

    That is the Christianity of today’s West.

    In other places and times, it was more in tune with Arta – such as Putin’s Russia or early America (before it died) and thus was more helpful.

  8. Teacibf the roots of the current malaise / Death of the West back to Britain is correct.

    Uber-empiricist Dave Hume really did a number on Christendom. Kant responded with his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ which (as Nietzsche pointed out) was in essence a Christian apologetic work.

    One can still see this epistemological battle taking place today.

    For example a recent YouTube video had atheist Sam Harris claiming truth is knowable while Jungian spiritualist Jordan Peterson said truth is NOT knowable. This all goes back to empiricism and materialism!

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