Progress Back And Forth

We have noted before the intriguing coincidences that link the “old world” to the “new world”–not least the desire to establish trade with what is now Kerala and the accidental discovery of somewhere else; and other links in both directions.  “Old” and “new” become fuzzy qualifiers when considering “modern” European travelers of the 15th century sailing to “ancient” India and instead encountering people we now call Pre-Columbians.  Seth has posted on the environmental impacts of people from that so-called old world as they settled in the new world and brought their definitions of progress with them.  Now, thanks to an article in Smithsonian Magazine our attention is brought to a book and a man who broaden our horizons back to the old world from which those people came.

This article serves as a travelogue about the city, and its significance in shaping the norms of the people who would settle elsewhere and significantly influence the trajectory of that new world’s order, but also a bit on the man who has devoted his life to uncovering this history:

Historian Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, an American expatriate who went to Leiden [Holland] as a graduate student in the 1970s, has devoted his life’s work to piecing together the details of this important chapter in the history of the Pilgrims…thought there was little left to learn about the Pilgrims.  “I had believed the prevailing views that they were rigid fanatics,” Bangs says. But as he followed the paper trail in the city’s records and other sources, a different picture emerged. “They were much more tolerant than people think, particularly for their time,” he says.

Thankfully he has established a museum (photo to the left) to highlight features of the experience of pilgrims before they became the Pilgrims as taught in the history books of school children today.  These features are also documented in his book Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners: Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation.

The Smithsonian article, which provides these photographs belonging to the museum’s collection, notes something that even the student of Pilgrim history might not have known about one of the political leaders of these people in their most well-known colony in the new frontier:

William Bradford, a weaver like many of his fellow Pilgrims, was a member of the cloth guild that met in the Lodewijskerk, a 16th-century church with a decorative tower [photo to the right].  The chapel served as a guildhall in the early 17th century. “That’s where Bradford and other weavers had to bring their products for guild inspection before anything could be sold,” Bangs says. Once in the New World, Bradford put aside his loom and proved to be a most capable leader. He became the governor of the Plymouth Colony, a post he would hold for more than 30 years, and wrote Of Plymouth Plantation, still considered the most complete history of the Pilgrims.

2 thoughts on “Progress Back And Forth

  1. Pingback: Seasteading, Self-Reliance Utopia, And Our Shared Future | Raxa Collective

  2. Pingback: Europeans And Indians, The Early Days |

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