We trace the waves of crop failure, famine, pestilence, and war that swept over Europe in the 1600s as the climate sunk into a “Little Ice Age” and armies literally marched across frozen seas. In the midst of unimaginable crisis, alchemists, astrologers, and apocalypticists scoured the Bible for prophecies to explain the disasters around them as part of the approaching End Times. Many of the defining institutions of the modern world we know today – such as overseas colonization, investor-owned corporations, public education, religious toleration, and scientific academies – have their origins as attempts to cope with the crisis of the seventeenth century and prepare the way for the Second Coming.
Suggested Further Reading: Webster, “The Great Instauration”; Yates, “The Rosicrucian Enlightenment”; Hobsbawm, “The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century”.
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