The contributions of Portuguese and Spanish sixteenth century science and technology in fields such as metallurgy, medicine, agriculture, surgery, meteorology, cosmography, cartography, navigation, military technology, and urban engineering, by and large, have been excluded in most accounts of the Scientific Revolution. I review several recent studies in English on sixteenth and seventeenth century natural history and natural philosophy to demonstrate how difficult it has become for Anglo-American scholarship to bring Iberia back into narratives on the origins of “modernity.” The roots of this exclusion, to be sure, hark back to the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. The oversight is unfortunate for it has blinded scholars to the fact that the Iberians first created a culture of empirical, experimental, and utilitarian knowledge-gathering of massive proportions that did not get its cues from the classics or the learned, but from merchants, enterprising settlers, and bureaucrats. The Portuguese and the Spanish confidently saw themselves as the first “moderns,” superseding the ancients. The English were the first to recognize this fact and they sought to imitate the new institutions of knowledge-gathering created by the Iberians. I demonstrate, for example, the Iberian origins of many of Francis Bacon's epistemological insights and metaphors. Spanish and Portuguese scholars have long been making this point. I therefore introduce English-speaking audiences to some of the most recent scholarship by Spanish scholars on sixteenth century Iberian science and technology.

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