I am a member of that oft ridiculed specious the local historian. A figure much loved by the makers of Hollywood B-movies and TV crime series. The local historian an eccentric, pipe smoking, intellectual figure, and if English, usually with a beard and dressed in a tweed jacket he provides the necessary background information to Sir Toby Hetherington-Smyth the 18th century builder of the mysterious Hetherington Hall. In real life the local historian is usually an amateur who specialises in historical research of his home town, village or district mostly publishing the results of his often meticulous labours in the parish magazine or similar local publications.
Now I am English and do boast a beard, although in recent years it’s is mostly of the three or five day variety, but I am a non-smoker and don’t run to tweed jackets also my local history is of a somewhat different sort to the normal fare. I live about 20 km away from the City of Nürnberg (that’s Nuremberg for the English speakers) a city that is notorious nay infamous for its recent history, however in earlier times Nürnberg enjoyed a somewhat more positive fame. In the Renaissance, Nürnberg was one of the biggest, richest and most influential cities in Northern Europe; it also enjoyed an excellent reputation for art and culture. Between about 1450 and 1550 Nürnberg was also one of the leading European centres for the development of the mathematical sciences, this is one of the reasons that I became interested in this field of research, and many minor but significant figures in the history of science made their homes there. I am part of a group called the ‘Nürnberger Arbeitskreis für Astronomiegeschichte’ (Nürnberg history of astronomy study group); amongst other things we have initiated both an astronomy and a sundial trail in Nürnberg
You may have noticed that one of the categories for my Clavius article is ‘Local Heroes’ this is the first of a series of such postings in which, in my capacity as local historian, I will feature Franconians who played a role in the history of science mostly in the early modern period. Thus using my blog as a sort of history of science parish magazine.
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