Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Coffee Houses and Salons

I am listening to a Modern Scholar lecture on the Enlightenment which contains a background on the growth of coffee houses in salons. It seems like we are in some good company - with a long history houses flourished in Constantinople in the early 16th C. and spread across Europe - most flourished in the UK and Germany. Because they were places where private individuals came together regardless of class and the political discussions that arose from the coffee house's were "radical" Monarchists were not too happy with them. Soon people began to read papers and treatises and exchange vast ideas at these coffee houses! There was even a push to make clergymen come to them so that people could ask them questions which they could not do in churches.
Salons are French inventions - originally word means a room where one reposes or has dinners of signifying. They came to true power after the Revolution to replace the congregations at courts. When the Philisophes come into power in the 18th century salon no longer becomes a place just for repose and become the weekly gathering of intelligentsia - they were usually attended by upper class women - who needed an outlet from every day life. They evolved into a place for political discussion - usually of the nonconformist type - but were more affected and more for the upper classes...

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