mirrorshard: (Terrella)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
I've been doing a bit more reading, and found another character I can definitely use - a Dr Mark Ridley, Gilberd's younger protege, who fiercely defended the good philosopher's magnetic philosophy after his death. (Partly against one of Gilberd's earlier collaborators, in fact.) He was part of James VI&I's son Henry's satellite court, which was packed full of philosophers, scholars, mathematicians, and even a few practical men. It would be really interesting to read an alt-history on the theme of "what if Prince Henry hadn't died at 18, and we'd never had Charles I?"

I have a bit of a dilemma, on the "ethical historian" front. A lot of what I've been reading about Gilberd leads me to suspect, though not by any means conclude, that he may have been gay. I can't really summarize yet why I suspect this, it's a little too inchoate still, but he remained unmarried all his life (the Victorian myth was that he did this in order to remain devoted to his research - given that he was a highly sociable and successful professional, I'm not at all sure about that one) and had a succession of lodgers. His philosophy rests largely on rejecting the Aristotelian active/passive model of Stuff Happening, and instead imagines it as the interaction of two equal and equally involved agents - he demonstrated this by floating two magnets in one bowl of water, and recording the way they circled and spun and came together. The term he invented for the behaviour is "magnetic coition". (Stop sniggering, you at the back there.)

Part of the reason, I think, that the idea appeals to me is that it makes the personal story a bit simpler and easier to tell. Apart from Queen Elizabeth, there aren't any women at all in this History, and there's no way I can tell it without talking about his personal life and relationships. Of necessity, I'll need to make some intuitive jumps, and indeed Make Stuff Up, but I do want to be careful about consistency, and "accusing" a previously unsuspected historico-scientific figure of homosexuality without anything more than "it makes things easier for me" could cause a little ill-feeling in some quarters.
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