In seventeenth-century England, education was the prerogative of a nascent gentleman, so that he might, in Henry Peacham's words, make himself "beneficiall and usefull to his Country." In such an education, according to John Locke, "the reading of history, chronology, and geography are absolutely necessary." I describe the content and place of geographical education, as they were understood by seventeenth-century writers such as Peacham, Locke, and John Milton, and relate them to the political economy of seventeenth-century England. I argue, in Thomas Hobbes's words, that "knowledge of the face of the earth" assumed its modern importance because the size and geographical complexity of states increased and that attainment of this knowledge was, as it remains, a prerequisite for access to political power.
Keywords: geographical thought, history of geography.
DR. SMITH is editor of Philosophy and Geography and an assistant professor of geography at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3147.
To contact the author:
Mail: Prof. Jonathan M. Smith
Department of Geography
800 Eller (O&M) Building
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-3147
Phone: (409) 845-7141, (409) 845-7128 (fax)
Email: Jonathan M. Smith -- J0S750@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU