Political Ecologies in the Renaissance

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Samuel Sturmy (1633–1669) began his career as a sail maker, went on to command ships to Virginia and the West Indies, served as a customs official, became involved with the Royal Society, and ended his career by producing a hugely successful and authoritative navigational manual. The Mariners Magazine (1679), first printed in 1669, remained an important resource into the 18th century and was reprinted three times in 1679, 1684, and 1700. It offers detailed instruction in all aspects of a seaman's responsibilities, covering an encyclopedic range of topics including instrument-making, operating a ship, nautical slang, navigation, astronomy, customs, surveying, and gunnery.The Mariners Magazine even contains a guide to fortification by the mathematician Philip Staynred, engravings for readers to cut out and use in the making of their own wooden instruments, and advice on where to have these instruments made (in London, by Walter Hayes).

The Mariners Magazine participates in the larger project of applying, packaging, and disseminating new scientific knowledge for use by popular, artisanal, or working audiences. Sturmy's engaging prose explains the complexities of navigation and practical astronomy to the novice seaman, assuming only a basic knowledge of arithmetic, but the volume's beautiful engravings, rubrication, and detailed descriptions of sailing make it not only useful but also aesthetically pleasing and interesting for a more general readership.

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