Contacts in natural sciences between Riga and England in 1660–1710 [Loodusteaduslikud kontaktid Riia ja Inglismaa vahel 1660–1710]


  • Arvo Tering



London became one of the most important centres for the natural sciences in the latter half of the seventeenth century. The sphere of influence of the Royal Society of London, as well as that of the first natural scientific periodical, the Philosophical Transactions, covered all of Europe through a network of fellows of the Society and of contributors to the periodical. This article examines the mutual contacts between persons interested in natural sciences in England as the centre of natural science and Riga as the centre of one of Europe’s peripheral regions. The main characters under scrutiny are Nicolaus Witte von Lilienau (1618–88) and David Krieg (about 1669–1710). Riga’s municipal physician Witte corresponded and exchanged books and objects with the treasurer of the Royal Society, Abraham Hill (1633–1721). Krieg, a doctor of German descent working in Riga, spent an entire year in England in the company of England’s naturalists, and went to the American colonies in 1698 to collect specimens of natural history. In 1699 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and corresponded until 1708 with the secretary of the Royal Society Hans Sloane and the collectionnaire James Petiver. Also, several doctoral candidates from Riga who ventured out on academic peregrinations after completing their university studies visited London. KEYWORDS: History of natural sciences, Royal Society of London, Philosophical Transactions, David Krieg, Nicolaus Witte von Lilienau, Riga


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Author Biography

Arvo Tering

(b. 1949), Senior Research Fellow at the Tartu University Library