24 November 1859

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

On the Origin of Species
Origin of Species title page.jpg
The title page of the 1859 edition
of On the Origin of Species[1]
AuthorCharles Darwin
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
SubjectNatural selection
Evolutionary biology
Published24 November 1859[2] (John Murray)
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Preceded byOn the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection 
Followed byFertilisation of Orchids 

On the Origin of Species (or, more completely, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life),[3] published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin that is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology.[4] Darwin's book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. The book presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had collected on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.[5]

Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to other animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T. H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During "the eclipse of Darwinism" from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin's concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to modern evolutionary theory, and it has now become the unifying concept of the life sciences.

Summary of Darwin's theory

Darwin pictured shortly before publication

Darwin's theory of evolution is based on key facts and the inferences drawn from them, which biologist Ernst Mayr summarised as follows:[6]

  • Every species is fertile enough that if all offspring survived to reproduce, the population would grow (fact).
  • Despite periodic fluctuations, populations remain roughly the same size (fact).
  • Resources such as food are limited and are relatively stable over time (fact).
  • A struggle for survival ensues (inference).
  • Individuals in a population vary significantly from one another (fact).
  • Much of this variation is heritable (fact).
  • Individuals less suited to the environment are less likely to survive and less likely to reproduce; individuals more suited to the environment are more likely to survive and more likely to reproduce and leave their heritable traits to future generations, which produces the process of natural selection (fact).
  • This slowly effected process results in populations changing to adapt to their environments, and ultimately, these variations accumulate over time to form new species (inference).


Developments before Darwin's theory

In later editions of the book, Darwin traced evolutionary ideas as far back as Aristotle;[7] the text he cites is a summary by Aristotle of the ideas of the earlier Greek philosopher Empedocles.[8] Early Christian Church Fathers and Medieval European scholars interpreted the Genesis creation narrative allegorically rather than as a literal historical account;[9] organisms were described by their mythological and heraldic significance as well as by their physical form. Nature was widely believed to be unstable and capricious, with monstrous births from union between species, and spontaneous generation of life.[10]

Cuvier's 1799 paper on living and fossil elephants helped establish the reality of extinction.

The Protestant Reformation inspired a literal interpretation of the Bible, with concepts of creation that conflicted with the findings of an emerging science seeking explanations congruent with the mechanical philosophy of René Descartes and the empiricism of the Baconian method. After the turmoil of the English Civil War, the Royal Society wanted to show that science did not threaten religious and political stability. John Ray developed an influential natural theology of rational order; in his taxonomy, species were static and fixed, their adaptation and complexity designed by God, and varieties showed minor differences caused by local conditions. In God's benevolent design, carnivores caused mercifully swift death, but the suffering caused by parasitism was a puzzling problem. The biological classification introduced by Carl Linnaeus in 1735 also viewed species as fixed according to the divine plan. In 1766, Georges Buffon suggested that some similar species, such as horses and asses, or lions, tigers, and leopards, might be varieties descended from a common ancestor. The Ussher chronology of the 1650s had calculated creation at 4004 BC, but by the 1780s geologists assumed a much older world. Wernerians thought strata were deposits from shrinking seas, but James Hutton proposed a self-maintaining infinite cycle, anticipating uniformitarianism.[11]

Charles Darwin's grandfather Erasmus Darwin outlined a hypothesis of transmutation of species in the 1790s, and French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a more developed theory in 1809. Both envisaged that spontaneous generation produced simple forms of life that progressively developed greater complexity, adapting to the environment by inheriting changes in adults caused by use or disuse. This process was later called Lamarckism. Lamarck thought there was an inherent progressive tendency driving organisms continuously towards greater complexity, in parallel but separate lineages with no extinction.[12] Geoffroy contended that embryonic development recapitulated transformations of organisms in past eras when the environment acted on embryos, and that animal structures were determined by a constant plan as demonstrated by homologies. Georges Cuvier strongly disputed such ideas, holding that unrelated, fixed species showed similarities that reflected a design for functional needs.[13] His palæontological work in the 1790s had established the reality of extinction, which he explained by local catastrophes, followed by repopulation of the affected areas by other species.[14]

In Britain, William Paley's Natural Theology saw adaptation as evidence of beneficial "design" by the Creator acting through natural laws. All naturalists in the two English universities (Oxford and Cambridge) were Church of England clergymen, and science became a search for these laws.[15] Geologists adapted catastrophism to show repeated worldwide annihilation and creation of new fixed species adapted to a changed environment, initially identifying the most recent catastrophe as the biblical flood.[16] Some anatomists such as Robert Grant were influenced by Lamarck and Geoffroy, but most naturalists regarded their ideas of transmutation as a threat to divinely appointed social order.[17]

Inception of Darwin's theory

Darwin went to Edinburgh University in 1825 to study medicine. In his second year he neglected his medical studies for natural history and spent four months assisting Robert Grant's research into marine invertebrates. Grant revealed his enthusiasm for the transmutation of species, but Darwin rejected it.[18] Starting in 1827, at Cambridge University, Darwin learnt science as natural theology from botanist John Stevens Henslow, and read Paley, John Herschel and Alexander von Humboldt. Filled with zeal for science, he studied catastrophist geology with Adam Sedgwick.[19][20]

In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his "B" notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote "I think" above his first evolutionary tree.

In December 1831, he joined the Beagle expedition as a gentleman naturalist and geologist. He read Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology and from the first stop ashore, at St. Jago, found Lyell's uniformitarianism a key to the geological history of landscapes. Darwin discovered fossils resembling huge armadillos, and noted the geographical distribution of modern species in hope of finding their "centre of creation".[21] The three Fuegian missionaries the expedition returned to Tierra del Fuego were friendly and civilised, yet to Darwin their relatives on the island seemed "miserable, degraded savages",[22] and he no longer saw an unbridgeable gap between humans and animals.[23] As the Beagle neared England in 1836, he noted that species might not be fixed.[24][25]

Richard Owen showed that fossils of extinct species Darwin found in South America were allied to living species on the same continent. In March 1837, ornithologist John Gould announced that Darwin's rhea was a separate species from the previously described rhea (though their territories overlapped), that mockingbirds collected on the Galápagos Islands represented three separate species each unique to a particular island, and that several distinct birds from those islands were all classified as finches.[26] Darwin began speculating, in a series of notebooks, on the possibility that "one species does change into another" to explain these findings, and around July sketched a genealogical branching of a single evolutionary tree, discarding Lamarck's independent lineages progressing to higher forms.[27][28][29] Unconventionally, Darwin asked questions of fancy pigeon and animal breeders as well as established scientists. At the zoo he had his first sight of an ape, and was profoundly impressed by how human the orangutan seemed.[30]

In late September 1838, he started reading Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population with its statistical argument that human populations, if unrestrained, breed beyond their means and struggle to survive. Darwin related this to the struggle for existence among wildlife and botanist de Candolle's "warring of the species" in plants; he immediately envisioned "a force like a hundred thousand wedges" pushing well-adapted variations into "gaps in the economy of nature", so that the survivors would pass on their form and abilities, and unfavourable variations would be destroyed.[31][32][33] By December 1838, he had noted a similarity between the act of breeders selecting traits and a Malthusian Nature selecting among variants thrown up by "chance" so that "every part of newly acquired structure is fully practical and perfected".[34]

Darwin now had the basic framework of his theory of natural selection, but he was fully occupied with his career as a geologist and held back from compiling it until his book on The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs was completed.[35][36] As he recalled in his autobiography, he had "at last got a theory by which to work", but it was only in June 1842 that he allowed himself "the satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of my theory in pencil".[37]

Further development

Darwin continued to research and extensively revise his theory while focusing on his main work of publishing the scientific results of the Beagle voyage.[35] He tentatively wrote of his ideas to Lyell in January 1842;[38] then in June he roughed out a 35-page "Pencil Sketch" of his theory.[39] Darwin began correspondence about his theorising with the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker in January 1844, and by July had rounded out his "sketch" into a 230-page "Essay", to be expanded with his research results and published if he died prematurely.[40]

Darwin researched how the skulls of different pigeon breeds varied, as shown in his Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication of 1868.

In November 1844, the anonymously published popular science book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, written by Scottish journalist Robert Chambers, widened public interest in the concept of transmutation of species. Vestiges used evidence from the fossil record and embryology to support the claim that living things had progressed from the simple to the more complex over time. But it proposed a linear progression rather than the branching common descent theory behind Darwin's work in progress, and it ignored adaptation. Darwin read it soon after publication, and scorned its amateurish geology and zoology,[41] but he carefully reviewed his own arguments after leading scientists, including Adam Sedgwick, attacked its morality and scientific errors.[42] Vestiges had significant influence on public opinion, and the intense debate helped to pave the way for the acceptance of the more scientifically sophisticated Origin by moving evolutionary speculation into the mainstream. While few naturalists were willing to consider transmutation, Herbert Spencer became an active proponent of Lamarckism and progressive development in the 1850s.[43]

Hooker was persuaded to take away a copy of the "Essay" in January 1847, and eventually sent a page of notes giving Darwin much-needed feedback. Reminded of his lack of expertise in taxonomy, Darwin began an eight-year study of barnacles, becoming the leading expert on their classification. Using his theory, he discovered homologies showing that slightly changed body parts served different functions to meet new conditions, and he found an intermediate stage in the evolution of distinct sexes.[44][45]

Darwin's barnacle studies convinced him that variation arose constantly and not just in response to changed circumstances. In 1854, he completed the last part of his Beagle-related writing and began working full-time on evolution. He now realised that the branching pattern of evolutionary divergence was explained by natural selection working constantly to improve adaptation. His thinking changed from the view that species formed in isolated populations only, as on islands, to an emphasis on speciation without isolation; that is, he saw increasing specialisation within large stable populations as continuously exploiting new ecological niches. He conducted empirical research focusing on difficulties with his theory. He studied the developmental and anatomical differences between different breeds of many domestic animals, became actively involved in fancy pigeon breeding, and experimented (with the help of his son Francis) on ways that plant seeds and animals might disperse across oceans to colonise distant islands. By 1856, his theory was much more sophisticated, with a mass of supporting evidence.[44][46]


Time taken to publish

In his autobiography, Darwin said he had "gained much by my delay in publishing from about 1839, when the theory was clearly conceived, to 1859; and I lost nothing by it".[47] On the first page of his 1859 book he noted that, having begun work on the topic in 1837, he had drawn up "some short notes" after five years, had enlarged these into a sketch in 1844, and "from that period to the present day I have steadily pursued the same object."[48][49]

Various biographers have proposed that Darwin avoided or delayed making his ideas public for personal reasons. Reasons suggested have included fear of religious persecution or social disgrace if his views were revealed, and concern about upsetting his clergymen naturalist friends or his pious wife Emma. Charles Darwin's illness caused repeated delays. His paper on Glen Roy had proved embarrassingly wrong, and he may have wanted to be sure he was correct. David Quammen has suggested all these factors may have contributed, and notes Darwin's large output of books and busy family life during that time.[50]

A more recent study by science historian John van Wyhe has determined that the idea that Darwin delayed publication only dates back to the 1940s, and Darwin's contemporaries thought the time he took was reasonable. Darwin always finished one book before starting another. While he was researching, he told many people about his interest in transmutation without causing outrage. He firmly intended to publish, but it was not until September 1854 that he could work on it full-time. His 1846 estimate that writing his "big book" would take five years proved optimistic.[48]

Events leading to publication: "big book" manuscript

A photograph of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) taken in Singapore in 1862

An 1855 paper on the "introduction" of species, written by Alfred Russel Wallace, claimed that patterns in the geographical distribution of living and fossil species could be explained if every new species always came into existence near an already existing, closely related species.[51] Charles Lyell recognised the implications of Wallace's paper and its possible connection to Darwin's work, although Darwin did not, and in a letter written on 1–2 May 1856 Lyell urged Darwin to publish his theory to establish priority. Darwin was torn between the desire to set out a full and convincing account and the pressure to quickly produce a short paper. He met Lyell, and in correspondence with Joseph Dalton Hooker affirmed that he did not want to expose his ideas to review by an editor as would have been required to publish in an academic journal. He began a "sketch" account on 14 May 1856, and by July had decided to produce a full technical treatise on species as his "big book" on Natural Selection. His theory including the principle of divergence was complete by 5 September 1857 when he sent Asa Gray a brief but detailed abstract of his ideas.[52][53]

Joint publication of papers by Wallace and Darwin

Darwin was hard at work on the manuscript for his "big book" on Natural Selection, when on 18 June 1858 he received a parcel from Wallace, who stayed on the Maluku Islands (Ternate and Gilolo). It enclosed twenty pages describing an evolutionary mechanism, a response to Darwin's recent encouragement, with a request to send it on to Lyell if Darwin thought it worthwhile. The mechanism was similar to Darwin's own theory.[52] Darwin wrote to Lyell that "your words have come true with a vengeance, ... forestalled" and he would "of course, at once write and offer to send [it] to any journal" that Wallace chose, adding that "all my originality, whatever it may amount to, will be smashed".[54] Lyell and Hooker agreed that a joint publication putting together Wallace's pages with extracts from Darwin's 1844 Essay and his 1857 letter to Gray should be presented at the Linnean Society, and on 1 July 1858, the papers entitled On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection, by Wallace and Darwin respectively, were read out but drew little reaction. While Darwin considered Wallace's idea to be identical to his concept of natural selection, historians have pointed out differences. Darwin described natural selection as being analogous to the artificial selection practised by animal breeders, and emphasised competition between individuals; Wallace drew no comparison to selective breeding, and focused on ecological pressures that kept different varieties adapted to local conditions.[55][56][57] Some historians have suggested that Wallace was actually discussing group selection rather than selection acting on individual variation.[58]

Abstract of Species book

Soon after the meeting, Darwin decided to write "an abstract of my whole work" in the form of one or more papers to be published by the Linnean Society, but was concerned about "how it can be made scientific for a Journal, without giving facts, which would be impossible." He asked Hooker how many pages would be available, but "If the Referees were to reject it as not strictly scientific I would, perhaps publish it as pamphlet."[59][60] He began his "abstract of Species book" on 20 July 1858, while on holiday at Sandown,[61] and wrote parts of it from memory, while sending the manuscripts to his friends for checking.[62]

By early October, he began to "expect my abstract will run into a small volume, which will have to be published separately."[63] Over the same period, he continued to collect information and write large fully detailed sections of the manuscript for his "big book" on Species, Natural Selection.[59]

Murray as publisher; choice of title

By mid-March 1859 Darwin's abstract had reached the stage where he was thinking of early publication; Lyell suggested the publisher John Murray, and met with him to find if he would be willing to publish. On 28 March Darwin wrote to Lyell asking about progress, and offering to give Murray assurances "that my Book is not more un-orthodox, than the subject makes inevitable." He enclosed a draft title sheet proposing An abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species and Varieties Through natural selection, with the year shown as "1859".[64][65]

Murray's response was favourable, and a very pleased Darwin told Lyell on 30 March that he would "send shortly a large bundle of M.S. but unfortunately I cannot for a week, as the three first chapters are in three copyists' hands". He bowed to Murray's objection to "abstract" in the title, though he felt it excused the lack of references, but wanted to keep "natural selection" which was "constantly used in all works on Breeding", and hoped "to retain it with Explanation, somewhat as thus",— Through Natural Selection or the preservation of favoured races.[65][66] On 31 March Darwin wrote to Murray in confirmation, and listed headings of the 12 chapters in progress: he had drafted all except "XII. Recapitulation & Conclusion".[67] Murray responded immediately with an agreement to publish the book on the same terms as he published Lyell, without even seeing the manuscript: he offered Darwin ⅔ of the profits.[68] Darwin promptly accepted with pleasure, insisting that Murray would be free to withdraw the offer if, having read the chapter manuscripts, he felt the book would not sell well[69] (eventually Murray paid £180 to Darwin for the first edition and by Darwin's death in 1882 the book was in its sixth edition, earning Darwin nearly £3000[70]).

On 5 April, Darwin sent Murray the first three chapters, and a proposal for the book's title.[71] An early draft title page suggests On the Mutability of Species.[72] Murray cautiously asked Whitwell Elwin to review the chapters.[59] At Lyell's suggestion, Elwin recommended that, rather than "put forth the theory without the evidence", the book should focus on observations upon pigeons, briefly stating how these illustrated Darwin's general principles and preparing the way for the larger work expected shortly: "Every body is interested in pigeons."[73] Darwin responded that this was impractical: he had only the last chapter still to write.[74] In September the main title still included "An essay on the origin of species and varieties", but Darwin now proposed dropping "varieties".[75]

With Murray's persuasion, the title was eventually agreed as On the Origin of Species, with the title page adding by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.[3] In this extended title (and elsewhere in the book) Darwin used the biological term "races" interchangeably with "varieties", meaning varieties within a species.[76][77] He used the term broadly,[78] and as well as discussions of "the several races, for instance, of the cabbage" and "the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants",[79] there are three instances in the book where the phrase "races of man" is used, referring to races of humans.[80]

Publication and subsequent editions

On the Origin of Species was first published on Thursday 24 November 1859, priced at fifteen shillings with a first printing of 1250 copies.[81] The book had been offered to booksellers at Murray's autumn sale on Tuesday 22 November, and all available copies had been taken up immediately. In total, 1,250 copies were printed but after deducting presentation and review copies, and five for Stationers' Hall copyright, around 1,170 copies were available for sale.[2] Significantly, 500 were taken by Mudie's Library, ensuring that the book promptly reached a large number of subscribers to the library.[82] The second edition of 3,000 copies was quickly brought out on 7 January 1860,[83] and incorporated numerous corrections as well as a response to religious objections by the addition of a new epigraph on page ii, a quotation from Charles Kingsley, and the phrase "by the Creator" added to the closing sentence.[84] During Darwin's lifetime the book went through six editions, with cumulative changes and revisions to deal with counter-arguments raised. The third edition came out in 1861, with a number of sentences rewritten or added and an introductory appendix, An Historical Sketch of the Recent Progress of Opinion on the Origin of Species,[85] while the fourth in 1866 had further revisions. The fifth edition, published on 10 February 1869, incorporated more changes and for the first time included the phrase "survival of the fittest", which had been coined by the philosopher Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology (1864).[86]

In January 1871, George Jackson Mivart's On the Genesis of Species listed detailed arguments against natural selection, and claimed it included false metaphysics.[87] Darwin made extensive revisions to the sixth edition of the Origin (this was the first edition in which he used the word "evolution" which had commonly been associated with embryological development, though all editions concluded with the word "evolved"[88][89]), and added a new chapter VII, Miscellaneous objections, to address Mivart's arguments.[2][90]

The sixth edition was published by Murray on 19 February 1872 as The Origin of Species, with "On" dropped from the title. Darwin had told Murray of working men in Lancashire clubbing together to buy the fifth edition at 15 shillings and wanted it made more widely available; the price was halved to 7s 6d by printing in a smaller font. It includes a glossary compiled by W.S. Dallas. Book sales increased from 60 to 250 per month.[3][90]

Publication outside Great Britain

American botanist Asa Gray (1810–1888)

In the United States, botanist Asa Gray, an American colleague of Darwin, negotiated with a Boston publisher for publication of an authorised American version, but learnt that two New York publishing firms were already planning to exploit the absence of international copyright to print Origin.[91] Darwin was delighted by the popularity of the book, and asked Gray to keep any profits.[92] Gray managed to negotiate a 5% royalty with Appleton's of New York,[93] who got their edition out in mid-January 1860, and the other two withdrew. In a May letter, Darwin mentioned a print run of 2,500 copies, but it is not clear if this referred to the first printing only, as there were four that year.[2][94]

The book was widely translated in Darwin's lifetime, but problems arose with translating concepts and metaphors, and some translations were biased by the translator's own agenda.[95] Darwin distributed presentation copies in France and Germany, hoping that suitable applicants would come forward, as translators were expected to make their own arrangements with a local publisher. He welcomed the distinguished elderly naturalist and geologist Heinrich Georg Bronn, but the German translation published in 1860 imposed Bronn's own ideas, adding controversial themes that Darwin had deliberately omitted. Bronn translated "favoured races" as "perfected races", and added essays on issues including the origin of life, as well as a final chapter on religious implications partly inspired by Bronn's adherence to Naturphilosophie.[96] In 1862, Bronn produced a second edition based on the third English edition and Darwin's suggested additions, but then died of a heart attack.[97] Darwin corresponded closely with Julius Victor Carus, who published an improved translation in 1867.[98] Darwin's attempts to find a translator in France fell through, and the translation by Clémence Royer published in 1862 added an introduction praising Darwin's ideas as an alternative to religious revelation and promoting ideas anticipating social Darwinism and eugenics, as well as numerous explanatory notes giving her own answers to doubts that Darwin expressed. Darwin corresponded with Royer about a second edition published in 1866 and a third in 1870, but he had difficulty getting her to remove her notes and was troubled by these editions.[97][99] He remained unsatisfied until a translation by Edmond Barbier was published in 1876.[2] A Dutch translation by Tiberius Cornelis Winkler was published in 1860.[100] By 1864, additional translations had appeared in Italian and Russian.[95] In Darwin's lifetime, Origin was published in Swedish in 1871,[101] Danish in 1872, Polish in 1873, Hungarian in 1873–1874, Spanish in 1877 and Serbian in 1878. By 1977, Origin had appeared in an additional 18 languages,[102] including Chinese by Ma Chün-wu who added non-Darwinian ideas; he published the preliminaries and chapters 1–5 in 1902–1904, and his complete translation in 1920.[103][104]


Title pages and introduction

John Gould's illustration of Darwin's rhea was published in 1841. The existence of two rhea species with overlapping ranges influenced Darwin.

Page ii contains quotations by William Whewell and Francis Bacon on the theology of natural laws,[105] harmonising science and religion in accordance with Isaac Newton's belief in a rational God who established a law-abiding cosmos.[106] In the second edition, Darwin added an epigraph from Joseph Butler affirming that God could work through scientific laws as much as through miracles, in a nod to the religious concerns of his oldest friends.[84] The Introduction establishes Darwin's credentials as a naturalist and author,[107] then refers to John Herschel's letter suggesting that the origin of species "would be found to be a natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process":[108]

WHEN on board HMS Beagle, as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.[109]

Darwin refers specifically to the distribution of the species rheas, and to that of the Galápagos tortoises and mockingbirds. He mentions his years of work on his theory, and the arrival of Wallace at the same conclusion, which led him to "publish this Abstract" of his incomplete work. He outlines his ideas, and sets out the essence of his theory:

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.[110]

Starting with the third edition, Darwin prefaced the introduction with a sketch of the historical development of evolutionary ideas.[111] In that sketch he acknowledged that Patrick Matthew had, unknown to Wallace or himself, anticipated the concept of natural selection in an appendix to a book published in 1831;[112] in the fourth edition he mentioned that William Charles Wells had done so as early as 1813.[113]

Variation under domestication and under nature

Chapter I covers animal husbandry and plant breeding, going back to ancient Egypt. Darwin discusses contemporary opinions on the origins of different breeds under cultivation to argue that many have been produced from common ancestors by selective breeding.[114] As an illustration of artificial selection, he describes fancy pigeon breeding,[115] noting that "[t]he diversity of the breeds is something astonishing", yet all were descended from one species of rock pigeon.[116] Darwin saw two distinct kinds of variation: (1) rare abrupt changes he called "sports" or "monstrosities" (example: Ancon sheep with short legs), and (2) ubiquitous small differences (example: slightly shorter or longer bill of pigeons).[117] Both types of hereditary changes can be used by breeders. However, for Darwin the small changes were most important in evolution. In this chapter Darwin expresses his erroneous belief that environmental change is necessary to generate variation.[118]

In Chapter II, Darwin specifies that the distinction between species and varieties is arbitrary, with experts disagreeing and changing their decisions when new forms were found. He concludes that "a well-marked variety may be justly called an incipient species" and that "species are only strongly marked and permanent varieties".[119] He argues for the ubiquity of variation in nature.[120] Historians have noted that naturalists had long been aware that the individuals of a species differed from one another, but had generally considered such variations to be limited and unimportant deviations from the archetype of each species, that archetype being a fixed ideal in the mind of God. Darwin and Wallace made variation among individuals of the same species central to understanding the natural world.[115]

Struggle for existence, natural selection, and divergence

In Chapter III, Darwin asks how varieties "which I have called incipient species" become distinct species, and in answer introduces the key concept he calls "natural selection";[121] in the fifth edition he adds, "But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer, of the Survival of the Fittest, is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient."[122]

Owing to this struggle for life, any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring ... I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection.[121]

He notes that both A. P. de Candolle and Charles Lyell had stated that all organisms are exposed to severe competition. Darwin emphasizes that he used the phrase "struggle for existence" in "a large and metaphorical sense, including dependence of one being on another"; he gives examples ranging from plants struggling against drought to plants competing for birds to eat their fruit and disseminate their seeds. He describes the struggle resulting from population growth: "It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms." He discusses checks to such increase including complex ecological interdependencies, and notes that competition is most severe between closely related forms "which fill nearly the same place in the economy of nature".[123]

Chapter IV details natural selection under the "infinitely complex and close-fitting ... mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life".[124] Darwin takes as an example a country where a change in conditions led to extinction of some species, immigration of others and, where suitable variations occurred, descendants of some species became adapted to new conditions. He remarks that the artificial selection practised by animal breeders frequently produced sharp divergence in character between breeds, and suggests that natural selection might do the same, saying:

But how, it may be asked, can any analogous principle apply in nature? I believe it can and does apply most efficiently, from the simple circumstance that the more diversified the descendants from any one species become in structure, constitution, and habits, by so much will they be better enabled to seize on many and widely diversified places in the polity of nature, and so be enabled to increase in numbers.[125]

Historians have remarked that here Darwin anticipated the modern concept of an ecological niche.[126] He did not suggest that every favourable variation must be selected, nor that the favoured animals were better or higher, but merely more adapted to their surroundings.

This tree diagram, used to show the divergence of species, is the only illustration in the Origin of Species.

Darwin proposes sexual selection, driven by competition between males for mates, to explain sexually dimorphic features such as lion manes, deer antlers, peacock tails, bird songs, and the bright plumage of some male birds.[127] He analysed sexual selection more fully in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871). Natural selection was expected to work very slowly in forming new species, but given the effectiveness of artificial selection, he could "see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the coadaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature's power of selection". Using a tree diagram and calculations, he indicates the "divergence of character" from original species into new species and genera. He describes branches falling off as extinction occurred, while new branches formed in "the great Tree of life ... with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications".[128]

Variation and heredity

In Darwin's time there was no agreed-upon model of heredity;[129] in Chapter I Darwin admitted, "The laws governing inheritance are quite unknown."[130] He accepted a version of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (which after Darwin's death came to be called Lamarckism), and Chapter V discusses what he called the effects of use and disuse; he wrote that he thought "there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited", and that this also applied in nature.[131] Darwin stated that some changes that were commonly attributed to use and disuse, such as the loss of functional wings in some island-dwelling insects, might be produced by natural selection. In later editions of Origin, Darwin expanded the role attributed to the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Darwin also admitted ignorance of the source of inheritable variations, but speculated they might be produced by environmental factors.[132][133] However, one thing was clear: whatever the exact nature and causes of new variations, Darwin knew from observation and experiment that breeders were able to select such variations and produce huge differences in many generations of selection.[117] The observation that selection works in domestic animals is not destroyed by lack of understanding of the underlying hereditary mechanism.

Breeding of animals and plants showed related varieties varying in similar ways, or tending to revert to an ancestral form, and similar patterns of variation in distinct species were explained by Darwin as demonstrating common descent. He recounted how Lord Morton's mare apparently demonstrated telegony, offspring inheriting characteristics of a previous mate of the female parent, and accepted this process as increasing the variation available for natural selection.[134][135]

More detail was given in Darwin's 1868 book on The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, which tried to explain heredity through his hypothesis of pangenesis. Although Darwin had privately questioned blending inheritance, he struggled with the theoretical difficulty that novel individual variations would tend to blend into a population. However, inherited variation could be seen,[136] and Darwin's concept of selection working on a population with a range of small variations was workable.[137] It was not until the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s that a model of heredity became completely integrated with a model of variation.[138] This modern evolutionary synthesis had been dubbed Neo Darwinian Evolution because it encompasses Charles Darwin's theories of evolution with Gregor Mendel's theories of genetic inheritance.[139]

Difficulties for the theory

Chapter VI begins by saying the next three chapters will address possible objections to the theory, the first being that often no intermediate forms between closely related species are found, though the theory implies such forms must have existed. As Darwin noted, "Firstly, why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?"[140] Darwin attributed this to the competition between different forms, combined with the small number of individuals of intermediate forms, often leading to extinction of such forms.[141] This difficulty can be referred to as the absence or rarity of transitional varieties in habitat space.

Another difficulty, related to the first one, is the absence or rarity of transitional varieties in time. Darwin commented that by the theory of natural selection "innumerable transitional forms must have existed," and wondered "why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?"[142] (For further discussion of these difficulties, see Speciation#Darwin's dilemma: Why do species exist? and Bernstein et al.[143] and Michod.[144])

The chapter then deals with whether natural selection could produce complex specialised structures, and the behaviours to use them, when it would be difficult to imagine how intermediate forms could be functional. Darwin said:

Secondly, is it possible that an animal having, for instance, the structure and habits of a bat, could have been formed by the modification of some animal with wholly different habits? Can we believe that natural selection could produce, on the one hand, organs of trifling importance, such as the tail of a giraffe, which serves as a fly-flapper, and, on the other hand, organs of such wonderful structure, as the eye, of which we hardly as yet fully understand the inimitable perfection?[145]

His answer was that in many cases animals exist with intermediate structures that are functional. He presented flying squirrels, and flying lemurs as examples of how bats might have evolved from non-flying ancestors.[146] He discussed various simple eyes found in invertebrates, starting with nothing more than an optic nerve coated with pigment, as examples of how the vertebrate eye could have evolved. Darwin concludes: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case."[147]

In a section on "organs of little apparent importance", Darwin discusses the difficulty of explaining various seemingly trivial traits with no evident adaptive function, and outlines some possibilities such as correlation with useful features. He accepts that we "are profoundly ignorant of the causes producing slight and unimportant variations" which distinguish domesticated breeds of animals,[148] and human races. He suggests that sexual selection might explain these variations:[149][150]

I might have adduced for this same purpose the differences between the races of man, which are so strongly marked; I may add that some little light can apparently be thrown on the origin of these differences, chiefly through sexual selection of a particular kind, but without here entering on copious details my reasoning would appear frivolous.[151]

Chapter VII (of the first edition) addresses the evolution of instincts. His examples included two he had investigated experimentally: slave-making ants and the construction of hexagonal cells by honey bees. Darwin noted that some species of slave-making ants were more dependent on slaves than others, and he observed that many ant species will collect and store the pupae of other species as food. He thought it reasonable that species with an extreme dependency on slave workers had evolved in incremental steps. He suggested that bees that make hexagonal cells evolved in steps from bees that made round cells, under pressure from natural selection to economise wax. Darwin concluded:

Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers, —ants making slaves, —the larvæ of ichneumonidæ feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars, —not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.[152]

Chapter VIII addresses the idea that species had special characteristics that prevented hybrids from being fertile in order to preserve separately created species. Darwin said that, far from being constant, the difficulty in producing hybrids of related species, and the viability and fertility of the hybrids, varied greatly, especially among plants. Sometimes what were widely considered to be separate species produced fertile hybrid offspring freely, and in other cases what were considered to be mere varieties of the same species could only be crossed with difficulty. Darwin concluded: "Finally, then, the facts briefly given in this chapter do not seem to me opposed to, but even rather to support the view, that there is no fundamental distinction between species and varieties."[153]

In the sixth edition Darwin inserted a new chapter VII (renumbering the subsequent chapters) to respond to criticisms of earlier editions, including the objection that many features of organisms were not adaptive and could not have been produced by natural selection. He said some such features could have been by-products of adaptive changes to other features, and that often features seemed non-adaptive because their function was unknown, as shown by his book on Fertilisation of Orchids that explained how their elaborate structures facilitated pollination by insects. Much of the chapter responds to George Jackson Mivart's criticisms, including his claim that features such as baleen filters in whales, flatfish with both eyes on one side and the camouflage of stick insects could not have evolved through natural selection because intermediate stages would not have been adaptive. Darwin proposed scenarios for the incremental evolution of each feature.[154]

Geological record

Chapter IX deals with the fact that the geological record appears to show forms of life suddenly arising, without the innumerable transitional fossils expected from gradual changes. Darwin borrowed Charles Lyell's argument in Principles of Geology that the record is extremely imperfect as fossilisation is a very rare occurrence, spread over vast periods of time; since few areas had been geologically explored, there could only be fragmentary knowledge of geological formations, and fossil collections were very poor. Evolved local varieties which migrated into a wider area would seem to be the sudden appearance of a new species. Darwin did not expect to be able to reconstruct evolutionary history, but continuing discoveries gave him well-founded hope that new finds would occasionally reveal transitional forms.[155][156] To show that there had been enough time for natural selection to work slowly, he cited the example of The Weald as discussed in Principles of Geology together with other observations from Hugh Miller, James Smith of Jordanhill and Andrew Ramsay. Combining this with an estimate of recent rates of sedimentation and erosion, Darwin calculated that erosion of The Weald had taken around 300 million years.[157] The initial appearance of entire groups of well-developed organisms in the oldest fossil-bearing layers, now known as the Cambrian explosion, posed a problem. Darwin had no doubt that earlier seas had swarmed with living creatures, but stated that he had no satisfactory explanation for the lack of fossils.[158] Fossil evidence of pre-Cambrian life has since been found, extending the history of life back for billions of years.[159]

Chapter X examines whether patterns in the fossil record are better explained by common descent and branching evolution through natural selection, than by the individual creation of fixed species. Darwin expected species to change slowly, but not at the same rate – some organisms such as Lingula were unchanged since the earliest fossils. The pace of natural selection would depend on variability and change in the environment.[160] This distanced his theory from Lamarckian laws of inevitable progress.[155] It has been argued that this anticipated the punctuated equilibrium hypothesis,[156][161] but other scholars have preferred to emphasise Darwin's commitment to gradualism.[162] He cited Richard Owen's findings that the earliest members of a class were a few simple and generalised species with characteristics intermediate between modern forms, and were followed by increasingly diverse and specialised forms, matching the branching of common descent from an ancestor.[155] Patterns of extinction matched his theory, with related groups of species having a continued existence until extinction, then not reappearing. Recently extinct species were more similar to living species than those from earlier eras, and as he had seen in South America, and William Clift had shown in Australia, fossils from recent geological periods resembled species still living in the same area.[160]

Geographic distribution

Chapter XI deals with evidence from biogeography, starting with the observation that differences in flora and fauna from separate regions cannot be explained by environmental differences alone; South America, Africa, and Australia all have regions with similar climates at similar latitudes, but those regions have very different plants and animals. The species found in one area of a continent are more closely allied with species found in other regions of that same continent than to species found on other continents. Darwin noted that barriers to migration played an important role in the differences between the species of different regions. The coastal sea life of the Atlantic and Pacific sides of Central America had almost no species in common even though the Isthmus of Panama was only a few miles wide. His explanation was a combination of migration and descent with modification. He went on to say: "On this principle of inheritance with modification, we can understand how it is that sections of genera, whole genera, and even families are confined to the same areas, as is so commonly and notoriously the case."[163] Darwin explained how a volcanic island formed a few hundred miles from a continent might be colonised by a few species from that continent. These species would become modified over time, but would still be related to species found on the continent, and Darwin observed that this was a common pattern. Darwin discussed ways that species could be dispersed across oceans to colonise islands, many of which he had investigated experimentally.[164]

Chapter XII continues the discussion of biogeography. After a brief discussion of freshwater species, it returns to oceanic islands and their peculiarities; for example on some islands roles played by mammals on continents were played by other animals such as flightless birds or reptiles. The summary of both chapters says:

... I think all the grand leading facts of geographical distribution are explicable on the theory of migration (generally of the more dominant forms of life), together with subsequent modification and the multiplication of new forms. We can thus understand the high importance of barriers, whether of land or water, which separate our several zoological and botanical provinces. We can thus understand the localisation of sub-genera, genera, and families; and how it is that under different latitudes, for instance in South America, the inhabitants of the plains and mountains, of the forests, marshes, and deserts, are in so mysterious a manner linked together by affinity, and are likewise linked to the extinct beings which formerly inhabited the same continent ... On these same principles, we can understand, as I have endeavoured to show, why oceanic islands should have few inhabitants, but of these a great number should be endemic or peculiar; ...[165]

Classification, morphology, embryology, rudimentary organs

Chapter XIII starts by observing that classification depends on species being grouped together in a Taxonomy, a multilevel system of groups and sub-groups based on varying degrees of resemblance. After discussing classification issues, Darwin concludes:

All the foregoing rules and aids and difficulties in classification are explained, if I do not greatly deceive myself, on the view that the natural system is founded on descent with modification; that the characters which naturalists consider as showing true affinity between any two or more species, are those which have been inherited from a common parent, and, in so far, all true classification is genealogical; that community of descent is the hidden bond which naturalists have been unconsciously seeking, ...[166]

Darwin discusses morphology, including the importance of homologous structures. He says, "What can be more curious than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include the same bones, in the same relative positions?" This made no sense under doctrines of independent creation of species, as even Richard Owen had admitted, but the "explanation is manifest on the theory of the natural selection of successive slight modifications" showing common descent.[167] He notes that animals of the same class often have extremely similar embryos. Darwin discusses rudimentary organs, such as the wings of flightless birds and the rudiments of pelvis and leg bones found in some snakes. He remarks that some rudimentary organs, such as teeth in baleen whales, are found only in embryonic stages.[168] These factors also supported his theory of descent with modification.[31]

Concluding remarks

The final chapter, "Recapitulation and Conclusion", reviews points from earlier chapters, and Darwin concludes by hoping that his theory might produce revolutionary changes in many fields of natural history.[169] He suggests that psychology will be put on a new foundation and implies the relevance of his theory to the first appearance of humanity with the sentence that "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history."[31][170] Darwin ends with a passage that became well known and much quoted:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us ... Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.[171]

Darwin added the phrase "by the Creator" from the 1860 second edition onwards, so that the ultimate sentence begins "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one".[172]

Structure, style, and themes

Nature and structure of Darwin's argument

Darwin's aims were twofold: to show that species had not been separately created, and to show that natural selection had been the chief agent of change.[173] He knew that his readers were already familiar with the concept of transmutation of species from Vestiges, and his introduction ridicules that work as failing to provide a viable mechanism.[174] Therefore, the first four chapters lay out his case that selection in nature, caused by the struggle for existence, is analogous to the selection of variations under domestication, and that the accumulation of adaptive variations provides a scientifically testable mechanism for evolutionary speciation.[175][176]

Later chapters provide evidence that evolution has occurred, supporting the idea of branching, adaptive evolution without directly proving that selection is the mechanism. Darwin presents supporting facts drawn from many disciplines, showing that his theory could explain a myriad of observations from many fields of natural history that were inexplicable under the alternative concept that species had been individually created.[176][177][178] The structure of Darwin's argument showed the influence of John Herschel, whose philosophy of science maintained that a mechanism could be called a vera causa (true cause) if three things could be demonstrated: its existence in nature, its ability to produce the effects of interest, and its ability to explain a wide range of observations.[179]

Literary style

The Examiner review of 3 December 1859 commented, "Much of Mr. Darwin's volume is what ordinary readers would call 'tough reading;' that is, writing which to comprehend requires concentrated attention and some preparation for the task. All, however, is by no means of this description, and many parts of the book abound in information, easy to comprehend and both instructive and entertaining."[174][180]

While the book was readable enough to sell, its dryness ensured that it was seen as aimed at specialist scientists and could not be dismissed as mere journalism or imaginative fiction. Unlike the still-popular Vestiges, it avoided the narrative style of the historical novel and cosmological speculation, though the closing sentence clearly hinted at cosmic progression. Darwin had long been immersed in the literary forms and practices of specialist science, and made effective use of his skills in structuring arguments.[174] David Quammen has described the book as written in everyday language for a wide audience, but noted that Darwin's literary style was uneven: in some places he used convoluted sentences that are difficult to read, while in other places his writing was beautiful. Quammen advised that later editions were weakened by Darwin making concessions and adding details to address his critics, and recommended the first edition.[181] James T. Costa said that because the book was an abstract produced in haste in response to Wallace's essay, it was more approachable than the big book on natural selection Darwin had been working on, which would have been encumbered by scholarly footnotes and much more technical detail. He added that some parts of Origin are dense, but other parts are almost lyrical, and the case studies and observations are presented in a narrative style unusual in serious scientific books, which broadened its audience.[182]

Human evolution

From his early transmutation notebooks in the late 1830s onwards, Darwin considered human evolution as part of the natural processes he was investigating,[183] and rejected divine intervention.[184] In 1856, his "big book on species" titled Natural Selection was to include a "note on Man", but when Wallace enquired in December 1857, Darwin replied; "You ask whether I shall discuss 'man';—I think I shall avoid whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit that it is the highest & most interesting problem for the naturalist."[185][186] On 28 March 1859, with his manuscript for the book well under way, Darwin wrote to Lyell offering the suggested publisher John Murray assurances "That I do not discuss origin of man".[64][65]

In the final chapter of On the Origin of Species, "Recapitulation and Conclusion", Darwin briefly highlights the human implications of his theory:

"In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history."[187]

Discussing this in January 1860, Darwin assured Lyell that "by the sentence [Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history] I show that I believe man is in same predicament with other animals.[188] Many modern writers have seen this sentence as Darwin’s only reference to humans in the book;[183] Janet Browne describes it as his only discussion there of human origins, while noting that the book makes other references to humanity.[189]

Some other statements in the book are quietly effective at pointing out the implication that humans are simply another species, evolving through the same processes and principles affecting other organisms. For example,[183] in Chapter III: "Struggle for Existence" Darwin includes "slow-breeding man" among other examples of Malthusian population growth.[190] In his discussions on morphology, Darwin compares and comments on bone structures that are homologous between humans and other mammals.[191]

Darwin's early notebooks discussed how non-adaptive characteristics could be selected when animals or humans chose mates,[192] with races of humans differing over ideas of beauty.[193] In his 1856 notes responding to Robert Knox's The Races of Man: A Fragment, he called this effect sexual selection.[194] He added notes on sexual selection to his "big book on species", and in mid-1857 he added a section heading "Theory applied to Races of Man", but did not add text on this topic.[195]

In On the Origin of Species, Chapter VI: "Difficulties on Theory", Darwin mentions this in the context of "slight and unimportant variations":[196]

I might have adduced for this same purpose the differences between the races of man, which are so strongly marked; I may add that some little light can apparently be thrown on the origin of these differences, chiefly through sexual selection of a particular kind, but without here entering on copious details my reasoning would appear frivolous."[196]

When Darwin published The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex twelve years later, he said that he had not gone into detail on human evolution in the Origin as he thought that would "only add to the prejudices against my views". He had not completely avoided the topic:[197]

It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my 'Origin of Species,' that by this work 'light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history;' and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth.[197][198]

He also said that he had "merely alluded" in that book to sexual selection differentiating human races.[199]


In the 1870s, British caricatures of Darwin with a non-human ape body contributed to the identification of evolutionism with Darwinism.[200]

The book aroused international interest[201] and a widespread debate, with no sharp line between scientific issues and ideological, social and religious implications.[202] Much of the initial reaction was hostile, in a large part because very few reviewers actually understood his theory,[203] but Darwin had to be taken seriously as a prominent and respected name in science. Samuel Wilberforce wrote a review in Quarterly Review in 1860[204] where he disagreed with Darwin's 'argument'. There was much less controversy than had greeted the 1844 publication Vestiges of Creation, which had been rejected by scientists,[201] but had influenced a wide public readership into believing that nature and human society were governed by natural laws.[31] The Origin of Species as a book of wide general interest became associated with ideas of social reform. Its proponents made full use of a surge in the publication of review journals, and it was given more popular attention than almost any other scientific work, though it failed to match the continuing sales of Vestiges.[205] Darwin's book legitimised scientific discussion of evolutionary mechanisms, and the newly coined term Darwinism was used to cover the whole range of evolutionism, not just his own ideas. By the mid-1870s, evolutionism was triumphant.[202]

While Darwin had been somewhat coy about human origins, not identifying any explicit conclusion on the matter in his book, he had dropped enough hints about human's animal ancestry for the inference to be made,[206][207] and the first review claimed it made a creed of the "men from monkeys" idea from Vestiges.[208][209] Human evolution became central to the debate and was strongly argued by Huxley who featured it in his popular "working-men's lectures". Darwin did not publish his own views on this until 1871.[210][211]

The naturalism of natural selection conflicted with presumptions of purpose in nature and while this could be reconciled by theistic evolution, other mechanisms implying more progress or purpose were more acceptable. Herbert Spencer had already incorporated Lamarckism into his popular philosophy of progressive free market human society. He popularised the terms evolution and survival of the fittest, and many thought Spencer was central to evolutionary thinking.[212]

Impact on the scientific community

Scientific readers were already aware of arguments that species changed through processes that were subject to laws of nature, but the transmutational ideas of Lamarck and the vague "law of development" of Vestiges had not found scientific favour. Darwin presented natural selection as a scientifically testable mechanism while accepting that other mechanisms such as inheritance of acquired characters were possible. His strategy established that evolution through natural laws was worthy of scientific study, and by 1875, most scientists accepted that evolution occurred but few thought natural selection was significant. Darwin's scientific method was also disputed, with his proponents favouring the empiricism of John Stuart Mill's A System of Logic, while opponents held to the idealist school of William Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, in which investigation could begin with the intuitive idea that species were fixed objects created by design.[213] Early support for Darwin's ideas came from the findings of field naturalists studying biogeography and ecology, including Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1860, and Asa Gray in 1862. Henry Walter Bates presented research in 1861 that explained insect mimicry using natural selection. Alfred Russel Wallace discussed evidence from his Malay archipelago research, including an 1864 paper with an evolutionary explanation for the Wallace line.[214]

Huxley used illustrations to show that humans and apes had the same basic skeletal structure.[215]

Evolution had less obvious applications to anatomy and morphology, and at first had little impact on the research of the anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley.[216] Despite this, Huxley strongly supported Darwin on evolution; though he called for experiments to show whether natural selection could form new species, and questioned if Darwin's gradualism was sufficient without sudden leaps to cause speciation. Huxley wanted science to be secular, without religious interference, and his article in the April 1860 Westminster Review promoted scientific naturalism over natural theology,[217][218] praising Darwin for "extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated" and coining the term "Darwinism" as part of his efforts to secularise and professionalise science.[219] Huxley gained influence, and initiated the X Club, which used the journal Nature to promote evolution and naturalism, shaping much of late-Victorian science. Later, the German morphologist Ernst Haeckel would convince Huxley that comparative anatomy and palaeontology could be used to reconstruct evolutionary genealogies.[216][220]

The leading naturalist in Britain was the anatomist Richard Owen, an idealist who had shifted to the view in the 1850s that the history of life was the gradual unfolding of a divine plan.[221] Owen's review of the Origin in the April 1860 Edinburgh Review bitterly attacked Huxley, Hooker and Darwin, but also signalled acceptance of a kind of evolution as a teleological plan in a continuous "ordained becoming", with new species appearing by natural birth. Others that rejected natural selection, but supported "creation by birth", included the Duke of Argyll who explained beauty in plumage by design.[222][223] Since 1858, Huxley had emphasised anatomical similarities between apes and humans, contesting Owen's view that humans were a separate sub-class. Their disagreement over human origins came to the fore at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting featuring the legendary 1860 Oxford evolution debate.[224][225] In two years of acrimonious public dispute that Charles Kingsley satirised as the "Great Hippocampus Question" and parodied in The Water-Babies as the "great hippopotamus test", Huxley showed that Owen was incorrect in asserting that ape brains lacked a structure present in human brains.[226] Others, including Charles Lyell and Alfred Russel Wallace, thought that humans shared a common ancestor with apes, but higher mental faculties could not have evolved through a purely material process. Darwin published his own explanation in the Descent of Man (1871).[227]

Impact outside Great Britain

Haeckel showed a main trunk leading to mankind with minor branches to various animals, unlike Darwin's branching evolutionary tree.[228]

Evolutionary ideas, although not natural selection, were accepted by German biologists accustomed to ideas of homology in morphology from Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants and from their long tradition of comparative anatomy. Bronn's alterations in his German translation added to the misgivings of conservatives, but enthused political radicals. Ernst Haeckel was particularly ardent, aiming to synthesise Darwin's ideas with those of Lamarck and Goethe while still reflecting the spirit of Naturphilosophie.[96][229] Their ambitious programme to reconstruct the evolutionary history of life was joined by Huxley and supported by discoveries in palaeontology. Haeckel used embryology extensively in his recapitulation theory, which embodied a progressive, almost linear model of evolution. Darwin was cautious about such histories, and had already noted that von Baer's laws of embryology supported his idea of complex branching.[228]

Asa Gray promoted and defended Origin against those American naturalists with an idealist approach, notably Louis Agassiz who viewed every species as a distinct fixed unit in the mind of the Creator, classifying as species what others considered merely varieties.[230] Edward Drinker Cope and Alpheus Hyatt reconciled this view with evolutionism in a form of neo-Lamarckism involving recapitulation theory.[229]

French-speaking naturalists in several countries showed appreciation of the much-modified French translation by Clémence Royer, but Darwin's ideas had little impact in France, where any scientists supporting evolutionary ideas opted for a form of Lamarckism.[99] The intelligentsia in Russia had accepted the general phenomenon of evolution for several years before Darwin had published his theory, and scientists were quick to take it into account, although the Malthusian aspects were felt to be relatively unimportant. The political economy of struggle was criticised as a British stereotype by Karl Marx and by Leo Tolstoy, who had the character Levin in his novel Anna Karenina voice sharp criticism of the morality of Darwin's views.[95]

Challenges to natural selection

There were serious scientific objections to the process of natural selection as the key mechanism of evolution, including Karl von Nägeli's insistence that a trivial characteristic with no adaptive advantage could not be developed by selection. Darwin conceded that these could be linked to adaptive characteristics. His estimate that the age of the Earth allowed gradual evolution was disputed by William Thomson (later awarded the title Lord Kelvin), who calculated that it had cooled in less than 100 million years. Darwin accepted blending inheritance, but Fleeming Jenkin calculated that as it mixed traits, natural selection could not accumulate useful traits. Darwin tried to meet these objections in the fifth edition. Mivart supported directed evolution, and compiled scientific and religious objections to natural selection. In response, Darwin made considerable changes to the sixth edition. The problems of the age of the Earth and heredity were only resolved in the 20th century.[87][231]

By the mid-1870s, most scientists accepted evolution, but relegated natural selection to a minor role as they believed evolution was purposeful and progressive. The range of evolutionary theories during "the eclipse of Darwinism" included forms of "saltationism" in which new species were thought to arise through "jumps" rather than gradual adaptation, forms of orthogenesis claiming that species had an inherent tendency to change in a particular direction, and forms of neo-Lamarckism in which inheritance of acquired characteristics led to progress. The minority view of August Weismann, that natural selection was the only mechanism, was called neo-Darwinism. It was thought that the rediscovery of Mendelian inheritance invalidated Darwin's views.[232][233]

Impact on economic and political debates

While some, like Spencer, used analogy from natural selection as an argument against government intervention in the economy to benefit the poor, others, including Alfred Russel Wallace, argued that action was needed to correct social and economic inequities to level the playing field before natural selection could improve humanity further. Some political commentaries, including Walter Bagehot's Physics and Politics (1872), attempted to extend the idea of natural selection to competition between nations and between human races. Such ideas were incorporated into what was already an ongoing effort by some working in anthropology to provide scientific evidence for the superiority of Caucasians over non-white races and justify European imperialism. Historians write that most such political and economic commentators had only a superficial understanding of Darwin's scientific theory, and were as strongly influenced by other concepts about social progress and evolution, such as the Lamarckian ideas of Spencer and Haeckel, as they were by Darwin's work. Darwin objected to his ideas being used to justify military aggression and unethical business practices as he believed morality was part of fitness in humans, and he opposed polygenism, the idea that human races were fundamentally distinct and did not share a recent common ancestry.[234]

Religious attitudes

The book produced a wide range of religious responses at a time of changing ideas and increasing secularisation. The issues raised were complex and there was a large middle ground. Developments in geology meant that there was little opposition based on a literal reading of Genesis,[235] but defence of the argument from design and natural theology was central to debates over the book in the English-speaking world.[236][237]

The liberal theologian Baden Powell defended evolutionary ideas by arguing that the introduction of new species should be considered a natural rather than a miraculous process.[238]

Natural theology was not a unified doctrine, and while some such as Louis Agassiz were strongly opposed to the ideas in the book, others sought a reconciliation in which evolution was seen as purposeful.[235] In the Church of England, some liberal clergymen interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God's design, with the cleric Charles Kingsley seeing it as "just as noble a conception of Deity".[239][240] In the second edition of January 1860, Darwin quoted Kingsley as "a celebrated cleric", and added the phrase "by the Creator" to the closing sentence, which from then on read "life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one".[172] While some commentators have taken this as a concession to religion that Darwin later regretted,[84] Darwin's view at the time was of God creating life through the laws of nature,[241][242] and even in the first edition there are several references to "creation".[243]

Baden Powell praised "Mr Darwin's masterly volume [supporting] the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of nature".[244] In America, Asa Gray argued that evolution is the secondary effect, or modus operandi, of the first cause, design,[245] and published a pamphlet defending the book in terms of theistic evolution, Natural Selection is not inconsistent with Natural Theology.[239][246][247] Theistic evolution became a popular compromise, and St. George Jackson Mivart was among those accepting evolution but attacking Darwin's naturalistic mechanism. Eventually it was realised that supernatural intervention could not be a scientific explanation, and naturalistic mechanisms such as neo-Lamarckism were favoured over natural selection as being more compatible with purpose.[235]

Even though the book did not explicitly spell out Darwin's beliefs about human origins, it had dropped a number of hints about human's animal ancestry[207] and quickly became central to the debate, as mental and moral qualities were seen as spiritual aspects of the immaterial soul, and it was believed that animals did not have spiritual qualities. This conflict could be reconciled by supposing there was some supernatural intervention on the path leading to humans, or viewing evolution as a purposeful and progressive ascent to mankind's position at the head of nature.[235] While many conservative theologians accepted evolution, Charles Hodge argued in his 1874 critique "What is Darwinism?" that "Darwinism", defined narrowly as including rejection of design, was atheism though he accepted that Asa Gray did not reject design.[248][249] Asa Gray responded that this charge misrepresented Darwin's text.[250] By the early 20th century, four noted authors of The Fundamentals were explicitly open to the possibility that God created through evolution,[251] but fundamentalism inspired the American creation–evolution controversy that began in the 1920s. Some conservative Roman Catholic writers and influential Jesuits opposed evolution in the late 19th and early 20th century, but other Catholic writers, starting with Mivart, pointed out that early Church Fathers had not interpreted Genesis literally in this area.[252] The Vatican stated its official position in a 1950 papal encyclical, which held that evolution was not inconsistent with Catholic teaching.[253][254]

Modern influence

A modern phylogenetic tree based on genome analysis shows the three-domain system.

Various alternative evolutionary mechanisms favoured during "the eclipse of Darwinism" became untenable as more was learned about inheritance and mutation. The full significance of natural selection was at last accepted in the 1930s and 1940s as part of the modern evolutionary synthesis. During that synthesis biologists and statisticians, including R. A. Fisher, Sewall Wright and J. B. S. Haldane, merged Darwinian selection with a statistical understanding of Mendelian genetics.[233]

Modern evolutionary theory continues to develop. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, with its tree-like model of branching common descent, has become the unifying theory of the life sciences. The theory explains the diversity of living organisms and their adaptation to the environment. It makes sense of the geological record, biogeography, parallels in embryonic development, biological homologies, vestigiality, cladistics, phylogenetics and other fields, with unrivalled explanatory power; it has also become essential to applied sciences such as medicine and agriculture.[255][256] Despite the scientific consensus, a religion-based political controversy has developed over how evolution is taught in schools, especially in the United States.[257]

Interest in Darwin's writings continues, and scholars have generated an extensive literature, the Darwin Industry, about his life and work. The text of Origin itself has been subject to much analysis including a variorum, detailing the changes made in every edition, first published in 1959,[258] and a concordance, an exhaustive external index published in 1981.[259] Worldwide commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species and the bicentenary of Darwin's birth were scheduled for 2009.[260] They celebrated the ideas which "over the last 150 years have revolutionised our understanding of nature and our place within it".[261]

In a survey conducted by a group of academic booksellers, publishers and librarians in advance of Academic Book Week in the United Kingdom, On the Origin of Species was voted the most influential academic book ever written.[262] It was hailed as "the supreme demonstration of why academic books matter" and "a book which has changed the way we think about everything".[263]

See also


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  78. ^ Sober 2011, p. 45, Quote: "There nonetheless are a few cases in which Darwin does discuss selection processes in which groups are the units, and these will be the focus of the present chapter. But even here it does not matter whether the groups are from different 'races' or from the same race. It is nests of honeybees that compete with each other, and human tribes that compete with other human tribes. For Darwin, the question of group selection had nothing special to do with 'race.' Still, writing in the heyday of empire, Darwin saw European nations outcompeting the nations, kingdoms, and tribes that occupy the rest of the globe. In this one very salient example, Darwin did see races struggling with each other. In any event, the word race in Darwin’s subtitle needs to be understood very broadly; it encompasses competition among individuals, competition among groups in the same 'race,' and competition from groups from different 'races.' This is a much broader meaning than the word 'race' tends to have today."
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Works cited

Further reading

Contemporary reviews

External links

16 August 1859

The Grand Duchy of Tuscany formally deposes the exiled House of Lorraine.

Coordinates: 43°N 11°E / 43°N 11°E / 43; 11

Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Magnus Ducatus Etruriae  (Latin)
Granducato di Toscana  (Italian)
Flag of Tuscany
Flag of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1840).svg
Top: Medici; bottom: Habsburg-Lorraine
Sotto una Fede et Legge un Signor solo
(Under one Faith and Law one Lord only)
Anthem: "La Leopolda"
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1815 to 1847.
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1815 to 1847.
Northern Italy in 1815 to 1847.
Northern Italy in 1815 to 1847.
Common languagesItalian
Roman Catholicism
GovernmentUnitary absolute monarchy
Grand Duke 
• 1569–1574
Cosimo I de' Medici (first)
• 1859–1860
Ferdinand IV (last)
• Cosimo I is elevated by a papal bull to Grand Duke of Tuscany
27 August 1569
• End of Medici rule
9 July 1737
• Abolished during
the Napoleonic Wars
21 March 1801
9 June 1815
• Deposition of the Habsburgs
16 August 1859
• Merged to form the United
Provinces of Central Italy
8 December 1859
• Formally annexed to
Piedmont-Sardinia after
a plebiscite
22 March 1860
• 1801
CurrencyTuscan lira (to 1826)
Tuscan fiorino (1826–1859)
Location of Tuscany
The Grand Duchy after 1847. The Duke of Lucca, after negotiations with the Duke of Modena and Reggio and the Grand Duke of Tuscany in the , decided to abdicate the throne of Lucca in favor of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo II, while the Lucca territories of Montignoso, Gallicano, Minucciano and Castiglione di Garfagnana were given to Modena. Tuscany then ceded its Lunigiana territories to Modena with the exception of Pontremoli which passed to the Duchy of Parma. Here are showed the new compartments of the Grand Duchy after 1848's administrative divisions' reforms.
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Florence
Republic of Siena
United Provinces of Central Italy

The Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Italian: Granducato di Toscana; Latin: Magnus Ducatus Etruriae) was an Italian monarchy that existed, with interruptions, from 1569 to 1859, replacing the Republic of Florence.[2] The grand duchy's capital was Florence. In the 19th century the population of the Grand Duchy was about 1,815,000 inhabitants.[3]

Having brought nearly all Tuscany under his control after conquering the Republic of Siena, Cosimo I de' Medici, was elevated by a papal bull of Pope Pius V to Grand Duke of Tuscany on August 27, 1569.[4][5] The Grand Duchy was ruled by the House of Medici until the extinction of its senior branch in 1737. While not as internationally renowned as the old republic, the grand duchy thrived under the Medici and it bore witness to unprecedented economic and military success under Cosimo I and his sons, until the reign of Ferdinando II, which saw the beginning of the state's long economic decline. It peaked under Cosimo III.[6]

Francis Stephen of Lorraine, a cognatic descendant of the Medici, succeeded the family and ascended the throne of his Medicean ancestors. Tuscany was governed by a viceroy, Marc de Beauvau-Craon, for his entire rule. His descendants ruled, and resided in, the grand duchy until its end in 1859, barring one interruption, when Napoleon Bonaparte gave Tuscany to the House of Bourbon-Parma (Kingdom of Etruria, 1801–7). Following the collapse of the Napoleonic system in 1814, the grand duchy was restored. The United Provinces of Central Italy, a client state of the Kingdom of Sardinia, annexed Tuscany in 1859. Tuscany was formally annexed to Sardinia in 1860, as a part of the unification of Italy, following a landslide referendum, in which 95% of voters approved.[7]

Medici Period


Coat of arms of House of Medici

In 1569, Cosimo de' Medici had ruled the Duchy of Florence for 32 years. During his reign, Florence purchased the island of Elba from the Republic of Genoa (in 1548),[8] conquered Siena (in 1555)[9] and developed a well-equipped and powerful naval base on Elba. Cosimo also banned the clergy from holding administrative positions and promulgated laws of freedom of religion, which were unknown during his time.[10] Cosimo also was a long-term supporter of Pope Pius V, who in the light of Florence's expansion in August 1569 declared Cosimo Grand Duke of Tuscany, a title unprecedented in Italy.[8]

The international reaction to Cosimo's elevation was bleak. Queen Catherine of France, though herself a Medici, viewed Cosimo with the utmost disdain.[11] Rumours circulated at the Viennese court that had Cosimo as a candidate for King of England.[12] Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and his cousin King Philip II of Spain reacted quite angrily, as Florence was in theory an Imperial fief and declared Pius V's actions invalid. However, Maximilian eventually confirmed the elevation with an Imperial diploma in 1576.[13] For legal recognition, Cosimo bought the granducal title from his feudal overlord the Holy Roman Emperor for 100,000 ducats.[14]

During the Holy League of 1571, Cosimo fought against the Ottoman Empire, siding with the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy League inflicted a crushing defeat against the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto.[15] Cosimo's reign was one of the most militaristic Tuscany had ever seen.

Cosimo experienced several personal tragedies during the later years of his reign. His wife, Eleanor of Toledo, died in 1562, along with four of his children due to a plague epidemic in Florence. These deaths were to affect him greatly, which, along with illness, forced Cosimo to unofficially abdicate in 1564. This left his eldest son, Francesco, to rule the duchy. Cosimo I died in 1574 of apoplexy, leaving a stable and extremely prosperous Tuscany behind him, having been the longest ruling Medici yet.[16]

Francesco and Ferdinando I

The Grand Duke Ferdinando I.

Francesco had little interest in governing his realm, instead participating in scientific experiments.[13] The administration of the state was delegated to bureaucrats. He continued his father's Austrian/Imperial alliance, cementing it by marrying Johanna of Austria.[17] Francesco is best remembered for dying on the same day as his second wife, Bianca Cappello, spurring rumours of poisoning.[17] He was succeeded by Ferdinando de' Medici, his younger brother, whom he loathed.[17]

Ferdinando eagerly assumed the government of Tuscany.[18] He commanded the draining of the Tuscan marshlands, built a road network in Southern Tuscany, and cultivated trade in Livorno.[19] To augment the Tuscan silk industry, he oversaw the planting of Mulberry trees along the major roads (silk worms feed on Mulberry leaves).[18] He shifted Tuscany away from Habsburg[20] hegemony by marrying the first non-Habsburg candidate since Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence, Christina of Lorraine, a granddaughter of Catherine de' Medici. The Spanish reaction was to construct a citadel on their portion of the island of Elba.[19] To strengthen the new Tuscan alliance, he married the deceased Francesco's younger daughter, Marie, to Henry IV of France. Henry explicitly stated that he would defend Tuscany from Spanish aggression, but later reneged.[19] Ferdinando was forced to marry his heir, Cosimo, to Archduchess Maria Maddalena of Austria to assuage Spain (where Maria Maddalena's sister was the incumbent Queen consort).[19] Ferdinando sponsored a Tuscan colony in America, with the intention of establishing a Tuscan settlement in the area of what is now French Guiana. Despite all of these incentives to economic growth and prosperity, the population of Florence, at dawn of the 17th century, was a mere 75,000 souls, far smaller than the other capitals of Italy: Rome, Milan, Venice, Palermo and Naples.[21] Francesco and Ferdinando, due to lax distinction between Medici and Tuscan state property, are thought to be wealthier than their ancestor, Cosimo de' Medici, the founder of the dynasty.[22] The Grand Duke alone had the prerogative to exploit the state's mineral and salt resources. The fortunes of the Medici were directly tied to the Tuscan economy.[22]

Ferdinando, despite no longer being a cardinal, exercised much influence at successive Papal conclaves; elections which chose the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church. In 1605, Ferdinando succeeded in getting his candidate, Alessandro de' Medici, elected as Pope Leo XI. Leo XI died less than a month later, but fortunately for the Medici his successor Pope Paul V was also pro-Medici.[23] Ferdinando's pro-Papal foreign policy, however, had drawbacks. Tuscany was overcome with religious orders, all of whom were not obliged to pay taxes. Ferdinando died in 1609, leaving an affluent realm; however, his inaction in international affairs drew Tuscany into the provincial yolk of politics.

Cosimo II and Ferdinando II

Maria Maddalena, Cosimo II and Ferdinando II, painting after Justus Sustermans

Ferdinando's elder son, Cosimo, mounted the throne following his death. Like his uncle, Francesco I, government held no appeal for him, and Tuscany was ruled by his ministers.[24] Cosimo II's twelve-year reign was punctuated by his contented marriage with Maria Maddalena and his patronage of astronomer Galileo Galilei.

When Cosimo died, his oldest son, Ferdinando, was still a minor. This led to a regency of Ferdinand's grandmother, Dowager Grand Duchess Christina, and his mother, Maria Maddalena of Austria. Christina heavily relied on priests as advisors, lifting Cosimo I's ban on clergy holding administrative roles in government, and promoted monasticism. Christina dominated her grandson long after he came of age until her death in 1636.[25] His mother and grandmother arranged a marriage with Vittoria della Rovere, a granddaughter of the Duke of Urbino, in 1634. Together they had two children: Cosimo, in 1642, and Francesco Maria de' Medici, Duke of Rovere and Montefeltro, in 1660.[26]

Ferdinando was obsessed with new technology, and had several hygrometers, barometers, thermometers, and telescopes installed in the Pitti.[27] In 1657, Leopoldo de' Medici, the Grand Duke's youngest brother, established the Accademia del Cimento, which set up to attract scientists from all over Tuscany to Florence for mutual study.[28]

Tuscany was one of the states of the Holy Roman Empire that sided with the Emperor in the Thirty Years War, sending thousands of troops to support the pro-Imperial side from 1631. Among the commanders of the detachment were three of the grand duke's brothers; two died and one, Mattias de'Medici, became general of artillery and served for a decade. Like the Empire's other loyal Italian subjects, the Tuscans were "hawks" who supported prosecuting the war to its conclusion. Francesco de' Medici, Mattias de'Medici, and Ottavio Piccolomini (an Imperial general of Sienese origin) were among the ringleaders in the plot to assassinate field marshal Albrecht von Wallenstein, for which they were rewarded with spoils by Emperor Ferdinand II.[29]

Tuscany participated in the Wars of Castro (the last time Medicean Tuscany proper was involved in a conflict) and inflicted a defeat on the forces of Urban VIII in 1643.[30] The treasury was so empty that when the Castro mercenaries were paid for the state could no longer afford to pay interest on government bonds. The interest rate was lowered by 0.75%.[31] The economy was so decrepit that barter trade became prevalent in rural market places.[30] The exchequer was barely adequate to cover the state's current expenditure, resulting in a complete termination of banking operations for the Medici.[32] Ferdinando II died in 1670, succeeded by his oldest surviving son Cosimo.[33]

Cosimo III

The Grand Duke Cosimo III in old age
The Grand Duke Gian Gastone's coronation portrait; he was the last Medicean monarch of Tuscany

Cosimo III's reign was characterised by drastic changes and a sharp decline of the Grand Duchy. Cosimo III was of a puritan character, banning May celebrations, forcing prostitutes to pay for licenses and, beheading sodomites. He also instituted several laws censoring education[34] and introduced anti-Jewish legislation.[35] He imposed crippling taxes[36] while the country's population continued to decline. By 1705, the grand ducal treasury was virtually bankrupt, and the population of Florence had declined by approximately 50%, while the population of the entire grand duchy had decreased by an estimated 40%.[37] The once powerful navy was reduced to a pitiful state.[38]

Cosimo frequently paid the Holy Roman Emperor, his feudal overlord, high dues.[39] He sent munitions to the Emperor during the Battle of Vienna. Tuscany was neutral during the War of the Spanish Succession, partly due to Tuscany's ramshackle military; a 1718 military review revealed that the army numbered less than 3,000 men, many of whom were infirm and elderly.[40] Meanwhile, the state's capital, Florence, had become full of beggars.[41] Europe heard of the perils of Tuscany, and Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor asserted a remote claim to the grand duchy (through some Medici descent), but died before he could press the matter. The Treaty of the Hague reconfirmed the statuses of Tuscany and Parma-Piacenza as imperial fiefs.[42]

Cosimo married Marguerite Louise d'Orléans, a granddaughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici. Their union wrought a high level of discontentment, but despite the tension they had three children, Ferdinando, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, Electress Palatine and the last Medicean grand duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de' Medici. Neither of Cosimo's two sons was a suitable heir; Ferdinando was an alcoholic and epileptic, while his younger son, Gian Gastone, according to historian Paul Strathern, was not appropriate material[clarification needed] for the role of sovereign.

Cosimo contemplated restoring the Republic of Florence,[7][43] a decision that was complicated by the Grand Duchy's feudal status: Florence was an Imperial fief, Siena a Spanish one.[7] The plan was about to be approved by the powers convened at Geertruidenberg when Cosimo abruptly added that if himself and his two sons predeceased his daughter, the Electress Palatine, she should succeed and the republic be re-instituted following her death.[44] The proposal sank, and ultimately died with Cosimo in 1723.

The last years of the Medici

Cosimo III was succeeded by his son, Gian Gastone, who, for most of his life, kept to his bed and acted in an unregal manner, rarely appearing to his subjects, to the extent that, at times, he had been thought dead. Gian Gastone would repeal his father's puritan laws.[45] In 1731, the Powers gathered at Vienna to decide who would succeed Gian Gastone. They drew up the Treaty of Vienna, which gave the grand ducal throne to Don Carlos, Duke of Parma. Gian Gastone was not as steadfast in negotiating Tuscany's future as his father was. He capitulated to foreign demands, and instead of endorsing the claim to the throne of his closest male relative, the prince of Ottajano, he allowed Tuscany to be bestowed upon Francis Stephen of Lorraine. Don Carlos became King of Naples shortly after his arrival in Florence in 1735, by the Treaty of Turin. Soon after, Francis Stephen of Lorraine became heir to the Tuscan throne. Gian Gastone had no say in events and had become quite attached to the Spanish Infante. The Tuscans despised the new occupying "Lorrainers", as they interfered with the Tuscan government, while the occupying Spaniards had not done so.[46] On July 9 1737, Gian Gastone died; the last male Medici of the Grand Ducal line.[47]

House of Habsburg-Lorraine

A doppelporträt of Francis Stephen and his wife Maria Theresa, by Peter Kobler von Ehrensorg

Francis Stephen

Coat of arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (Tuscany).

Francis I (as Francis Stephen became known) lived in Florence briefly with his wife, the Habsburg heiress Maria Theresa, who became Tuscany's grand duchess. Francis had to cede his ancestral Duchy of Lorraine in order to accommodate the deposed ruler of Poland, whose daughter Marie Leszczyńska became Queen of France and of Navarre in 1725. Marie's father Stanisław I of Poland ruled Lorraine as compensation for his loss of the Kingdom of Poland. Francis was reluctant to resign the duchy, but Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor (Maria Theresa's father) stated that if he didn't relinquish his rights to Lorraine, he could not marry Maria Theresa. Francis did not live in his Tuscan realm, and lived in the capital of his wife's realm, Vienna. He was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1745. He died at Innsbruck from a stroke in 1765; his wife pledged the rest of her life to mourning him, while co-ruling with her son, and Francis' imperial successor Joseph II. Tuscany passed to another son, Leopold.[48] The administrative structure of the grand duchy itself would see little change under Francis I.

Since their accession to the throne of Grand Dukes, the Habsburgs continually tried to make Tuscany a source of military power, to little success, as Tuscany had declined and demilitarized in the 18th century. Such was the failure of their initial effort that Vienna declared Tuscany to be neutral during the War of the Austrian Succession, and enemy troops crossed it unopposed. At that time the Habsburgs' efforts had only managed to muster a standing army of 3,000 poorly-trained troops. A modest plan to create a 5,000-strong Tuscan army under German officers was only semi-successful. Tuscan troops served the Emperor in Silesia during the Seven Years' War. The first contingent of 3,000 troops arrived in 1758, followed by a second contingent of 1,500, and subsequent smaller ones to replace losses from battle and disease. The fear that the Emperor would impose conscription on the duchy caused 2% of the population to flee to the Papal States.[49]


Grand Duke Leopold I with his children and wife, 1776
The Kingdom of Etruria, Tuscany's successor state during the Napoleonic Wars

Francis' second surviving son Peter Leopold became grand duke of Tuscany and ruled the country until his brother Joseph's death. He was unpopular among his subjects, though his many reforms brought the Grand Duchy to a level of stability that had not been seen in quite a while.[48]

Leopold developed and supported many social and economic reforms. He revamped the taxation and tariff system.[48] Smallpox vaccination was made systematically available (Leopold's mother Maria Theresa had been a huge supporter on inoculation against smallpox), and an early institution for the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents was founded. Leopold also abolished capital punishment. On 30 November 1786, after having de facto blocked capital executions (the last was in 1769), Leopold promulgated the reform of the penal code that abolished the death penalty and ordered the destruction of all the instruments for capital execution in his land. Torture was also banned.[50]

Leopold also introduced radical reforms to the system of neglect and inhumane treatment of the mentally ill. On 23 January 1774, the legge sui pazzi (law regarding the insane) was established, the first of its kind to be introduced in Europe, allowing steps to be taken to hospitalize individuals deemed insane. A few years later Leopold undertook the project of building a new hospital, the Bonifacio. He used his skill at choosing collaborators to put a young physician, Vincenzo Chiarugi, at its head. Chiarugi and his collaborators introduced new humanitarian regulations in the running of the hospital and caring for the mentally ill patients, including banning the use of chains and physical punishment, and in so doing have been recognized as early pioneers of what later came to be known as the moral treatment movement.[51]

Leopold attempted to secularize the property of the religious houses or to put the clergy entirely under the control of the government. These measures, which disturbed the deeply rooted convictions of his people and brought him into collision with the pope, were not successful.

Leopold also approved and collaborated on the development of a political constitution, said to have anticipated by many years the promulgation of the French constitution and which presented some similarities with the Virginia Bill of Rights of 1778. Leopold's concept of this was based on respect for the political rights of citizens and on a harmony of power between the executive and the legislative. However, the constitution was so radically new that it garnered opposition even from those who might have benefited from it. In 1790, Emperor Joseph II died without issue and Leopold was called to Vienna, to assume the rule of his family's Austrian dominions and become Emperor.[50] His second son Ferdinand became ruler of the Grand Duchy. Leopold himself died in 1792.

Tuscany during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

Leopold was succeeded by Ferdinand III. Ferdinand was the son of the incumbent Grand Duke, and Grand Duchess Maria Louisa. He was forced out by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars, first in 1799, and then after the Treaty of Aranjuez (1801), becoming instead Elector of Salzburg, ruling the territory of the former archbishopric. The Grand Duchy was then dissolved, and replaced by the Kingdom of Etruria under the house of Bourbon-Parma, in compensation for their loss of Duchy of Parma. In 1803, the first King of Etruria, Louis I, died and was succeeded by his infant son, Charles Louis, under the regency of his mother, Queen María Luisa.

Etruria lasted less than a decade. By the Treaty of Fontainebleau (27 October 1807), Etruria was to be annexed by France. The negotiations had been between Spain and France, and the Etrurian regent was kept entirely in the dark, only being informed that she would have to leave her young son's kingdom on 23 November 1807. She and her court left on 10 December. On 30 May 1808, Etruria was formally annexed to France. An "Extraordinary Giunta" was placed in charge under General Jacques François Menou. Tuscany was divided into the départements of Arno, Méditerranée and Ombrone. In March 1809 a "General Government of the Departments of Tuscany" was set up, and Napoleon Bonaparte put his sister Elisa Bonaparte at its head, with the title of Grand Duchess of Tuscany.[52][53]

Tuscany restored and its final demise

Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany (r. 1824–1859) in the uniform of an Austrian Field Marshal, 1828, after Pietro Benvenuti

The Napoleonic system collapsed in 1814, and the following territorial settlement, the Congress of Vienna, ceded the State of Presidi to a restored Tuscany. Ferdinand III resumed his rule, and died in 1824. Italian nationalism exploded in the post-Napoleonic years, leading to the establishment of secret societies bent on a unified Italy. Whence these leagues arrived in Tuscany, a concerned Ferdinand requisitioned an Austrian garrison, from his brother Emperor Francis of Austria, for the defence of the state. Ferdinand aligned Tuscany with Austria.[54]

Following Ferdinand's death, his elder son, Leopold II, succeeded him. Leopold was contemporarily acknowledged as a liberal monarch.[54] Despite his merits, most his subjects still dismissed him as a foreigner. His affinity for Austria was equally unpalatable. In 1847, Leopold, following the death of the then-incumbent Duchess of Parma, Marie Louise of Austria, and the secret , annexed the Duchy of Lucca, (A state created solely to accommodate the House of Bourbon-Parma until they could re-assume their Parmese sovereignty). The Duke of Lucca decided to abdicate his throne in favor of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo II, while the Lucca territories of Montignoso, Gallicano, Minucciano and Castiglione di Garfagnana were given to Modena. Tuscany then ceded its Lunigiana territories to Modena with the exception of Pontremoli which passed to the Duchy of Parma. The same year, a Tuscan state council was brought into being.

In Leopold's years Italy was engulfed in popular rebellion, culminating in the Revolutions of 1848. The said revolution toppled the throne of France, and caused disarray across Europe. In Tuscany, Leopold II sanctioned a liberal constitution; and instituted a liberal ministry. Despite his attempts at acquiescence, street fighting in opposition to the regime sprang up in August, in Livorno. Leopold II lent his support to the Kingdom of Sardinia in the Austro-Sardinian War. In February 1849, Leopold II had to abandon Tuscany to Republicans and sought refuge in the Neapolitan city of Gaeta. A provisional republic was established in his stead. It was only with Austrian assistance that Leopold could return to Florence. The constitution was revoked in 1852.[54] The Austrian garrison was withdrawn in 1855.

The Second Austro-Sardinian war broke out in the summer of 1859. Leopold felt obliged to espouse Austria's cause.[55] Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia captured Tuscany in its entirety, and held it for the duration of the conflict; Leopold fled Tuscany as a result. The Peace of Villafranca allowed Leopold to return once more. Upon arrival, he abdicated in favour of his elder son, Ferdinand. Ferdinand IV's hypothetical reign didn't last long; the House of Habsburg-Lorraine was formally deposed by the National Assembly on 16 August 1859.[54]

In December 1859, the Grand Duchy was joined to the Duchies of Modena and Parma to form the United Provinces of Central Italy, which were annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia a few months later. On 22 March 1860, after a referendum that voted overwhelmingly (95%[7]) in favour of a union with Sardinia; Tuscany was formally annexed to Sardinia.[7] Italy was unified in 1870, when the remains of the Papal States were annexed in that September, deposing Pope Pius IX.


Map of Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1815

Tuscany was divided into two main administrative districts: the stato nuovo (the new state) consisting of the former Republic of Siena, and the stato vecchio (the old state), the old Republic of Florence and her dependencies. The two areas were governed by separate laws. They were divided because the stato nuovo was a Spanish fief and the stato vecchio an Imperial one. Siena was ruled by a governor appointed by the grand duke. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor proclaimed Alessandro de' Medici, ruler of Florence "for his lifetime, and after his death to be succeeded by his sons, male heirs and successors, of his body, by order of primogeniture, and failing them by the closest male of the Medici family, and likewise in succession forever, by order of primogeniture."[7]

Following the Republic's surrender in the Siege of Florence, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor issued a proclamation explicitly stating that he and he alone could determine the government of Florence.[56] On 12 August 1530, the Emperor created the Medici hereditary rulers (capo) of the Republic of Florence.[57] Pope Clement VII willed his relative Alessandro de' Medici to be the monarchical ruler of Florence, and went about requisitioning that dignity carefully; he wanted to give the impression that the Florentines democratically chose Alessandro to be their monarch.[57] In April 1532, the Pope convinced the Balía, Florence's ruling commission, to draw up a new constitution. The document in question was officiated on the 27th of that month. It formally created a hereditary monarchy, abolished the age-old signoria (elective government) and the office of gonfaloniere (titular ruler of Florence elected for a two-month term); in their place was the consigliere, a four-man council elected for a three-month term, headed by the "Duke of the Florentine Republic" (and later the Grand Duke of Tuscany). The Senate, composed of forty-eight men, chosen by the constitutional reform commission, was vested with the prerogative of determining Florence's financial, security, and foreign policies. Additionally, the senate appointed the commissions of war and public security, and the governors of Pisa, Arezzo, Prato, Voltera and Cortona and ambassadors.[58] To be eligible, one had to be male and a noble.[59] The Council of Two Hundred was a petitions court; membership was for life. This constitution was still in effect through the Medicean grand duchy, albeit the institutions decayed and powerless by the rule of Ferdinando II.[60]

Over time, the Medici acquired several territories, which included: the County of Pitigliano, purchased from the Orsini family in 1604; the County of Santa Fiora, acquired from the House of Sforza in 1633; Spain ceded Pontremoli in 1650, Silvia Piccolomini sold her estates, the Marquisate of Castiglione at the time of Cosimo I, Lordship of Pietra Santa, and the Duchy of Capistrano and the city of Penna in the Kingdom of Naples.[7] Vittoria della Rovere brought the Duchies of Montefeltro and Rovere into the family in 1631, upon her death in 1694, they passed to her younger son, Francesco Maria de' Medici. They reverted to the crown with the ascension of Gian Gastone.[61]

Gian Gastone, the last Medici, resigned the grand duchy to Francis Stephen of Lorraine. Under him, Tuscany was ruled by a viceroy, Marc de Beauvau-Craon, Prince de Craon. Francis Stephen altered the laws of succession in 1763, when he declared his second son, Leopold, heir to the grand duchy. If Leopold's line were to become extinct, it would revert to the main line. Every grand duke after Leopold resided in Florence. The grand duke Leopold II agreed to ratify a liberal constitution in 1848. And was consistently one of the more pro-Habsburg states in Italy. The grand duke was briefly deposed by a provisional government in 1849. He was restored the same year by Austrian troops. The government was finally dissolved upon its annexation to the United Provinces of Central Italy in 1859.[7]



From 1553 to 1559, Tuscany raised 30,000 troops (professional soldiers and militia) for their participation in the Last Italian War, which saw the Republic of Siena being added to the duchy. For the decades thereafter, the grand dukes only maintained a peacetime force of 2,500 soldiers, 500 cavalry to patrol the coasts and 2,000 infantry to man castles (Cosimo I having significantly expanded Tuscany's fortification network in an effort to defend the country). An anonymous Venetian intelligence report from the late 16th century stated that Tuscany could spend 800,000 ducats annually on war (half as much as the Spanish-held Kingdom of Naples despite having a quarter of its population), and could raise 40,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, counting soldiers, militia, and mercenaries from nearby Corsica and Romagna, a force massively out of proportion to its population. Hanlon considers the report overly optimistic, but with some basis in fact.[62]

In response to the Türkenkriege during the Long Turkish War starting in 1593, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany sent 100,000 scudi and 3,600 soldiers (3,000 infantry and 600 cavalry) to support the Holy Roman Emperor in Hungary, plus smaller detachments thereafter (there were 2,000 Tuscans in the Imperial army in Hungary by 1601).[63] A Tuscan-Spanish treaty that bound the two at the end of the Italian Wars demanded that Tuscany send 5,000 troops to the Spanish army if ever Lombardy or Naples was attacked. In 1613, Cosimo II sent 2,000 infantry and 300 cavalry, along with an undisclosed number of Tuscan adventurers, to aid the Spanish after Savoy launched an invasion of the Monferrato.[64]

In 1631, the grand duke sent 7,000 troops (6,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry) to join Wallenstein's army in support of the Emperor during the Thirty Years War.[65] From 1629 to 1630 he also sent 6,000 troops to join the Spanish in the War of the Mantuan Succession, plus a naval detachment and funds to pay for 4,000 Swiss mercenaries. In 1643, during the Castro War, the Tuscan army was between 5,000 and 10,000 good troops, including foreign mercenaries but not including militia. Yves-Marie Berce figures that most of those troops were of French or Swiss origin, but Hanlon disputes this, saying that Italians comprised a larger portion, and that the specific origins of the troops have very little information to go on. He also cites the fact that many Italians served as mercenaries outside of Italy, though he admits that (other than the well-known mercenary tradition of Corsica) there is no information on their state origins.[66] The duchy's largest military deployment came during this war, when in June 1643 over 10,000 troops (7,000 Tuscans in eight regiments of infantry recruited from militia, garrison troops, and veteran mercenaries; 1 regiment of German infantry; 2,400 cavalry, a quarter of whom were Germans; and 1 regiment of Tuscan dragoons) with 18 cannons invaded the Papal States holding of Umbria, while other troops and militia were left garrisoning the grand duchy's major citadels, coastal forts, and border forts. Militia were recruited into the army as needed to replace losses.[67]

Tuscany's economic and military strength cratered from the second half of the 17th century onward, which was reflected in the quality of its army; by 1740 it only consisted of a few thousand poorly-trained men and was considered impotent to such a degree that its Habsburgs rulers allowed enemy troops to cross the duchy unopposed.[68]


The grand duchy had two sources of naval power: the state navy and the Order of Saint Stephen.

In 1572 the Tuscan navy consisted of 11 galleys, 2 galleasses, 2 galleons, 6 frigates, and various transports, carrying in all 200 guns, manned by 100 knights, 900 seamen, and 2,500 oarsmen. With the end of Spanish subsidies, in 1574 the navy shrunk to 4 galleys. Grand Duke Ferdinand I sought to expand Tuscany's naval strength during his reign, and cooperated with the Order of Saint Stephen, which often blurred the line between itself and the Tuscan navy. The Order in 1604 counted among its fleet 6 galleys, 3 roundships/bertoni, 2 transports, 1 galleon, and 1 galleass, supplemented by other ships financed by corsairs flying the Tuscan banner. Ferdinand I expanded the Tuscan fleet after expanding the arsenal at Livorno, and oversaw many raids by both the navy and Order, including on Chios in 1599 (a failure), Prevesa in 1605 (5 galleys with 400 Tuscan militia; a success), various Turkish ports in 1606 (6 galleys, some roundships, and 750 Tuscan soldiers; a success), and Bone in 1607 (8 galleys, 9 bertoni, and 1 galleon, with 2,300 soldiers; a success). From 1560 to 1609, the Tuscan fleet captured 76 galiots, 7 galleys, 2 large roundships, and 67 minor craft, taking 9,620 slaves and liberating 2,076 Christians. The preponderance of small vessels among the prizes indicates that most of the trophies were easy victories.[69]

The Tuscans were early pioneers in the deployment of roundships, as technology made manpower-heavy galleys less efficient. They launched several big ships at Portoferraio after 1601, with an armament of 40 guns each yet only 60 seamen each. 8 of them around 1610 floated a total of 200 guns. They began to raid independently of the galleys on long voyages to the Levant. In 1608, they intercepted a Turkish convoy of 42 vessels off Rhodes, seizing 9 and netting 600 slaves and a booty of 1 million ducats, equivalent to two years of revenue for the whole grand duchy. Under Grand Duke Cosimo II, 7 roundships carrying 1,800 soldiers were sent to the Mediterranean from 1609 to 1611. This expedition was less successful, costing 800 men and 4 ships disabled. The grand duke also enticed English corsairs in North Africa to use Livorno as a base instead in exchange for amnesty and a share of their profits; Livorno quickly became a corsair capital, with the corsairs preying on both Muslim and Christian shipping.[70]

After 1612, the Tuscans progressively stopped sending out expeditions and limited their naval operations to patrols. This can be observed in the register of prizes of the Order of Saint Stephen. It lists some 238 vessels captured from 1563 to 1688; enemy galleys captured from 1568 to 1599 were 11 (for the loss of an identical number), and another 17 were seized between 1602 and 1635. Only 1 was captured after 1635. A notable incident in this time was a naval battle off Sardinia in October 1624, in which 15 Tuscan, Papal, and Neapolitan galleys converged on a flotilla of 5 Algerian pirate vessels (including a large flagship). In the 10-hour battle, punctuated by cannon fire and boarding actions, 600 pirates were killed or captured and they lost 4 of the 5 ships (3 sunk, 1 captured), while the Italians lost 60 dead.[71]

In 1686, Tuscany sent 4 galleys, 4 galiots, and 2 other vessels carrying 870 soldiers to participate in the Morean War (a battalion of 400 Tuscans were already serving there). In 1687 the Tuscans sent an additional 4 galleys, plus 2 hired foreign galleys, carrying 860 more soldiers, including German mercenaries. In 1688, another 6 galleys and 860 soldiers joined the fray. All three contingents suffered high casualties, a third for the first two and over half for the third.[72]

Flags and Coats of arms

See also


  1. ^ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; House of Commons, John Bowring, 1839, p 6
  2. ^ Strathern, Paul: The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, Vintage books, London, 2003, ISBN 978-0-09-952297-3, pp. 315–321
  3. ^ commercio, Italia : Ministero di agricoltura, industria e (1862). Popolazione censimento degli antichi Stati sardi (1. gennaio 1858) e censimenti di Lombardia, di Parma e di Modena (1857-1858) pubblicati per cura del Ministero d'agricoltura, industria e commercio: Relazione generale con una introduzione storica sopra i censimenti delle popolazioni italiane dai tempi antichi sino all'anno 1860. 1.1 (in Italian). Stamperia Reale.
  4. ^ "bolla papale di Pio V". archeologiavocidalpassato (in Italian). Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  5. ^ "Cosimo I | duke of Florence and Tuscany [1519–1574]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  6. ^ "COSIMO III de' Medici, granduca di Toscana in "Dizionario Biografico"". www.treccani.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h François Velde (July 4, 2005). "The Grand-Duchy of Tuscany". heraldica.org. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  8. ^ a b Strathern, p. 340
  9. ^ Strathern, p 335
  10. ^ Strathern, p 375, 381.
  11. ^ Frieda, Leonie: Catherine de' Medici, Orion books, London, 2005, ISBN 0-7538-2039-0, pp. 268–269
  12. ^ Booth, Cecily: Cosimo I – Duke of Florence, University Press, 1921 (pre-dates use of the ISBN), p 232
  13. ^ a b Hale, J.R.: Florence and the Medici, Orion books, London, 1977, ISBN 1-84212-456-0, p 145
  14. ^ Hanlon, p. 81.
  15. ^ Frieda, p. 271–272
  16. ^ Strathern, p. 340–341
  17. ^ a b c Hale, p 147
  18. ^ a b Hale, p 151
  19. ^ a b c d Hale, p 150
  20. ^ Austria and Spain were ruled by the House of Habsburg; the two are interchangeable terms for the time period in question
  21. ^ Hale, p 158
  22. ^ a b Hale, p 160
  23. ^ Hale, p 165
  24. ^ Hale, p 187
  25. ^ Strathern, p. 375–37, 380–381.
  26. ^ Acton, p 30
  27. ^ Acton, p 27
  28. ^ Acton, p 38
  29. ^ Hanlon, p. 97-98.
  30. ^ a b Hale, p 180
  31. ^ Hale, p. 181.
  32. ^ Strathern, p 381
  33. ^ Strathern, p. 382.
  34. ^ Strathern, p. 391.
  35. ^ Acton, p. 140–141.
  36. ^ Acton, p 185
  37. ^ Strathern, p 392
  38. ^ Strathern, pp. 390–391.
  39. ^ Acton, p 243
  40. ^ Acton, pp. 272 – 273
  41. ^ Strathern, p 400
  42. ^ Joachim Whaley, "Germany and the Holy Roman Empire: Volume II: The Peace of Westphalia to the Dissolution of the Reich, 1648-1806", from the Oxford History of Early Modern Europe, p. 137
  43. ^ Acton, p 254
  44. ^ Acton, p 255
  45. ^ Strathern, pp. 402–405
  46. ^ Strathern, pp. 408–409
  47. ^ Strathern, p 410
  48. ^ a b c "Leopold II (holy Roman emperor) -- Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  49. ^ Gregory Hanlon. "The Twilight Of A Military Tradition: Italian Aristocrats And European Conflicts, 1560-1800." Routledge: 1997. Page 322.
  50. ^ a b Woolrych, Humphry William: The history and results of the present capital punishments in England; to which are added, full tables of convictions, executions, etc, Saunders and Benning, 1832, (pre-dates use of the ISBN), p 42
  51. ^ Mora, G. (1959) Vincenzo Chiarugi (1759–1820) and his psychiatric reform in Florence in the late 18th century (on the occasion of the bi-centenary of his birth) J Hist Med.
  52. ^ Jackson-Laufer, Guida Myrl:Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide, ABC-CLIO, 1999, ISBN 978-1-57607-091-8, p 142
  53. ^ H. A. L. Fisher, "The French Dependencies and Switzerland", in A. Ward et al. (eds.), Cambridge Modern History, IX: Napoleon (Cambridge, 1934), p. 399.
  54. ^ a b c d Catholic Encyclopaedia. "Tuscany". newadvent.org. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
  55. ^ "Leopold II (grand duke of Tuscany) -- Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  56. ^ Hale, p 118
  57. ^ a b Hale, 119
  58. ^ Hale, p 121
  59. ^ Hale, p 153
  60. ^ Hale, p 178
  61. ^ Acton, pp. 207–208
  62. ^ Hanlon, p. 63.
  63. ^ Hanlon, p. 82-83.
  64. ^ Hanlon, p. 65
  65. ^ Hanlon, p. 97.
  66. ^ Hanlon, p. 132.
  67. ^ Hanlon, p. 139.
  68. ^ Hanlon, p. 322.
  69. ^ Hanlon, p. 38-40.
  70. ^ Hanlon, p. 40-41.
  71. ^ Hanlon. p. 41-42.
  72. ^ Hanlon, p. 139
  73. ^ a b Bandiere degli Stati italiani preunitari: Toscana.


External links

4 February 1859

The Codex Sinaiticus is first discovered in Egypt.

On 4 February 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in Egypt, in the Monastery of Saint Catherine, by the Leipzig archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf. The Codex Sinaiticus is an ancient handwritten copy of the Greek Bible, and alongside the Codex Vaticanus, it is the finest Greek text of the New Testament. Also including much of the Old Testament, it is an inestimably important document in the history of Christianity. The Codex was written sometime in the 4th century between 325 and 360 AD, and is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript. The exact circumstances in which it ended up in an Egyptian monastery are still unknown; some think it may actually have been written in Egypt, while others say it was more likely written in Rome.

Constantin von Tischendorf paid his first visit to the Monastery of Saint Catherine in 1844, and discovered some parchments from an important ancient document, the Septuagint, casually discarded in a wastepaper basket. The German archaeologist was allowed to bring them back to his homeland, and deposited them in the Leipzig University Library. He returned for a second time in 1853, and then a third time in 1859—on this occasion under the patronage of the Russian Tsar Alexander II, who was extremely eager to recover any other lost manuscripts from the distant Sinai monastery. Indeed, von Tischendorf went on to discover one of the most important religious documents in existence, on 4 February.

The reason that the Codex Sinaiticus is so important is because it contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament, hand-written in the old Greek vernacular language of koine. In addition, the Codex also includes the Septuagint, an early translation of the Hebrew Bible that was adopted as the Old Testament by early Greek-speaking Christians. No other early version of the Bible has been so extensively annotated and corrected, and these corrections range from changes made by the original scribes in the 4th century to those made by monks in the 12th century. Thus it provides an invaluable insight into the history of book-making, the history of the Bible, and the reconstruction of the Bible’s original text.

Constantin von Tischendorf certainly provided immense assistance to generations of Christian scholars by bringing the Codex Sinaiticus from the Monastery of Saint Catherine to the Leipzig University Library. However, there is still a great, and unresolved, controversy over exactly how he extracted the Codex from the monks. And, to this day, the monastery still maintains that it was essentially stolen from them by a duplicitous German academic.

24 November 1859

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

On the Origin of Species or more completely, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to other animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T. H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During “the eclipse of Darwinism” from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin’s concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to modern evolutionary theory, and it has now become the unifying concept of the life sciences.

22 October 1859

Spain declares war on Morocco.


Throughout the 19th century, Morocco suffered military defeats at the hands of the Europeans, notably in the Franco-Moroccan War in 1844. In 1856 the British were able to pressure Morocco into signing the Anglo-Moroccan treaties of Friendship which instated limitations on Moroccan Customs duties and brought an end to Royal monopolies.

The Spaniards saw the Moroccan defeat in 1844 and the 1856 treaties with the British as a sign of weakness. Spurred by a national passion for African conquest, the Spaniards declared war on Morocco.

In the late 1859, Moroccan tribesmen raided a Spanish garrison on the outskirts of Ceuta, provoking a response from the Spaniards who, ignoring Britain’s pleas for a peaceful settlement, invaded Morocco; they quickly defeated the Sultan’s Army near in Ceuta.

The Spaniards reached Tetuán on February 3, 1860. They bombarded the city for the following 2 days which allowed chaos to reign free, Riffian tribesmen poured into the city and pillaged it. The Moroccan historian Ahmad ibn Khalid al-Nasiri described the looting during the bombardment

31 May 1859

The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament in which Big Ben is housed, starts keeping time.

The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen’s Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on 31 May 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster–the headquarters of the British Parliament–in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

The name “Big Ben” originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen’s Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock’s huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.

22 October 1859

Spain declares war on Morocco.


The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War, was fought from Spain’s declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860. It began with a conflict over the borders of the Spanish city of Ceuta and was fought in northern Morocco. Morocco sued for peace after the Spanish victory at the Battle of Tetuán.

Throughout the 19th century, Morocco suffered military defeats at the hands of the Europeans, notably in the Franco-Moroccan War in 1844. In 1856 the British were able to pressure Morocco into signing the Anglo-Moroccan treaties of Friendship which instated limitations on Moroccan Customs duties and brought an end to Royal monopolies.

The Spaniards saw the Moroccan defeat in 1844 and the 1856 treaties with the British as a sign of weakness. Spurred by a national passion for African conquest, the Spaniards declared war on Morocco.

In the late 1859, Moroccan tribesmen raided a Spanish garrison on the outskirts of Ceuta, provoking a response from the Spaniards who, ignoring Britain’s pleas for a peaceful settlement, invaded Morocco; they quickly defeated the Sultan’s Army near in Ceuta.

The Spaniards reached Tetuán on February 3rd, 1860. They bombarded the city for the following 2 days which allowed chaos to reign free, Riffian tribesmen poured into the city and pillaged it. The Moroccan historian Ahmad ibn Khalid al-Nasiri described the looting during the bombardment.

On February 5th the Spanish entered the city, ending both the battle and the war.

25 April 1859

British and French engineers start work on the Suez Canal.

On 25th April, 1859, work started on the construction of the Suez Canal in Port Said, Egypt. Officially opened in November 1869, the 101 mile long canal is a vital trade route connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea.

When the canal opened some ten years later, its construction had cost $100 million. The creation of the canal triggered the growth of settlements around the area of Suez. Previous to the commencement of the project, the arid territory had been largely uninhabited, but following the start of the construction more than 70,000 acres of land were brought under cultivation.

The Suez Canal was not the first attempt in history to connect the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Canals had been constructed in the area in the thirteenth century BCE. During the Ptolemaic period of Ancient Egypt, a series of canals were used to facilitate trade through Egypt, however, over the course of the next thousand years they gradually fell into disrepair or were destroyed in military conflicts.The Suez Canal had a dramatic impact on world trade, allowing goods to be shipped across the globe in record time. In 1888, an international convention made the canal available for use by ships from any country.

2 March 1859

The Great Slave Auction, the largest such auction in United States history, starts.

The Great Slave Auction in March 1859 is regarded as the largest sale of enslaved people before the American Civil War. To satisfy significant debts, absentee owner and Philadelphian Pierce Mease Butler, authorized the sale of approximately 436 men, women, children, and infants to be sold over the course of two days at the Ten Broeck Race Course, two miles outside of Savannah, Georgia.

he Butlers of South Carolina and Philadelphia were owners of slave plantations located on the Sea Islands of Georgia. The patriarch of the family, Major Pierce Butler, owned hundreds of slaves who labored over rice and cotton crops, thus amassing him the family’s wealth. Butler was one of the wealthiest and most powerful slave owners in the United States. Upon his death, his biggest dilemma was which heir to leave his wealth. Estranged from his son, Major Butler left his estate to his two grandsons, Pierce M. Butler and John A. Butler.

Pierce M. Butler was everything his grandfather detested in men. Pierce was devoid of business sense and degenerate in his personal habits. Butler frequently engaged in risky business speculations, which resulted in financial loss in the Crash of 1857, and his elaborate spending. However, it would be his incorrigible gambling that landed him in the most trouble. Butler had accrued a considerable amount of gambling debt over the years. To satisfy his financial obligations, the management of Butler’s estate was transferred to trustees. At first, the trustees sold Butler’s Philadelphia mansion for $30,000 as well as other properties; unfortunately, it was not enough to satisfy creditors. The only commodities of value that remained were the slaves he owned on his Georgia plantations.