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Johannes van Meurs, Icones, elogia ac vitae professorum Lugdunensium apud Batavos (Leiden: Andries Clouck, 1617).

Engravings showing the facilities available at the University of Leiden including the anatomical lecture theatre and the Library. They are taken from a volume which also includes engravings of the duelling courts and the botanical gardens, printed about 40 years after the University's foundation by William the Silent in 1575.

Philipp Cluver, Germaniae antiquae libri tres (Leiden: Louis Elzevir, 1616).

A classical depiction of the barbarian, wearing little but a head-dress and wielding a sword, from a volume on the ancient Germans by Philipp Cluver (1580-1622). Originally from Gdansk, Cluver had travelled widely as a soldier before he settled in Leiden, where his Introductio in universam geographiam (1624) became a standard geographical textbook and made him a major figure in the development of the modern study of geography.

Salomon de Caus, Les raisons des forces mouvantes (Frankfurt: John Norton, 1615).

These plates come from an extravagantly illustrated volume of hydraulic solutions to engineering problems produced by the Huguenot Salomon de Caus. De Caus worked as an engineer under Louis XIII but also designed gardens, using features such as the singing birds shown here, in both Germany and England (the gardens of Somerset House were designed by him). The illustration of the steam-driven pump in this book once erroneously led him to be credited with the invention of the steam engine.

Giacomo Lauro, Antiquae urbis splendor (Rome, 1612-28).

Below is an image of Biblical prophecy included at the beginning of a pictorial work on Roman antiquities. It portrays a sequence of four monsters seen in a vision by the prophet Daniel, described thus:

Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia (Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1611).

By 1611, the date of publication of this volume, Amsterdam, a small town in the 16th century, was becoming the major mercantile and cultural centre of the Low Countries, and of Europe. From the late Middle Ages until 1585 this position had been held by Antwerp, but the recapture of this city by the Spanish Catholic forces during the wars of independence meant there was a large influx of Protestant refugees northwards, greatly expanding and enriching the population of Amsterdam.

William Gilbert, De magnete (London: Peter Short, 1600).

This treatise, in which the proposition that the Earth is a giant magnet is put forth, was the first major scientific work produced in England. Its author, William Gilbert, was a Fellow of St John's and an eminent physician. Alongside his medical profession Gilbert conducted experiments on magnetism, of which this volume was the fruit.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The necessity of atheism (Worthing, [1811]).

Thomas Clarkson, The history of the rise, progress, and accomplishment of the abolition of the African slave-trade by the British Parliament (London, 1808).

This graphic image of the treatment of cargoes of slaves by British merchants was included in a work by the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. St John's had strong links with this movement, which led to the out-lawing of slavery in British colonies in 1807, as both Clarkson and William Wilberforce, another leading abolitionist, were alumni of the College.

Humphry Repton, Observations on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (London, 1805).

Humphry Repton (1752-1818) succeeded 'Capability' Brown as head gardener at Hampton Court and was the first to assume the title of landscape gardener. His designs were used at Antony House, Bowood, Clumber Park, Hatchlands, Plas Newydd, Sheffield Park, Sheringham Park, Tatton Park, and Wimpole Hall, among other prominent locations. This impressive book is made even more interesting by the way the author has inserted movable slips over the plates showing country house gardens before and after work.

Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (London, 1798).

William Wordsworth is one of St John's College's most famous alumni. He found academic life in Cambridge unstimulating and conservative, and did not strive for anything other than an ordinary degree, which he obtained in 1791. Lyrical Ballads, which he produced with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who attended Jesus College, was published in 1798.

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