A Brill Calendar: May 25
1609: "Annus Mirabilis"
Few calendar years – earmarked according to Western tradition – symbolize reciprocities between human cultures and traditions as succinctly as 1609.
In that year a new kind of beverage was introduced in Europe, previously only known in China, ‘tea’. In the same year the world’s wealthiest city, Amsterdam, started an effective effort to cleanse commerce from fraudulently used money, by means of a municipal ‘Bank’; and also in 1609 a most insular civilization started to interact in practice with foreigners. After a year of negotiating the Japanese Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, granted to bearded, red-haired Dutch barbarians a charter allowing mutual trade.
In the same year a German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, published his proof that the planet Earth doesn’t follow its annual journey around the Sun in the specific path of a circle with just one centre – but more generally in an ellipse, in one of the two foci. And also in 1609 an English navigator, Henry Hudson, financed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), concluded that a river in the northern American continent, discovered and described by a Florentine mariner 85 years earlier, didn’t give entrance to the Pacific Ocean, and that possibilities of a shorter, northern route from the European North Sea to Asian Spice Islands were as small as ever.
When a later Japanese Emperor, Akihito, rested his Imperial hand on a low stone street-pillar near the front-door of 51, Rapenburg, Leyden, on May 25 2000 AD, during a chat beyond protocol with students the other side of the open window, and the world’s newspapers published the photograph next day as a ‘historical moment’, the outcome of 1609, ‘Annus Mirabilis’, reached fruition. All considered, in a surprisingly short period of time.
2013, May 17
2013, April 11
2013, April 11