Political Ecologies in the Renaissance

Navigation > Mr Blundeville his Exercises

Mr Blundeville his Exercises (1636), first published in 1594, were a well received introduction to the nautical arts and were reprinted at least six times between 1594 and 1638. Thomas Blundeville (1522?-1606?) advertises his curriculum as a collection of treatises appropriate for "all yoong Gentlemen" who have not studied but show interest in "Cosmographie, Astronomie, and Geographie" and also "Navigation." The work begins with an explanation of basic arithmetic and geometry, which Blundeville originally prepared for a young lady — Elizabeth Bacon, Sir Nicholas Bacon's daughter — not a young gentleman. This section is application-driven; its examples and problems are drawn from practical astronomy and the economics of trade. The Exercises also includes treatises on spheres, cosmography, maps, the astrolabe, and navigation.

Blundeville's letter to the reader is a nationalistic celebration of English exploits at sea. He commends English explorers and merchants for their service to their country and presents the arts covered in his treatises as especially profitable for the commonwealth. His Exercises preserves the English maritime activity it celebrates by encouraging and preparing his young gentlemen readers to pursue further training in preparation for a nautical career.

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