European Ethnicity in Pearl College | World Anvil

European

Damn you, Francis Bacon.

As seen in
Motion-activated lights hummed into life down the dim library corrider as Julia led Ainslie through yet another door, this time down two steps and to the left. Ainslie duly recorded the turn on the back of her day's lecture notes and dearly wished that her scribblings would start to resemble a map sooner rather than later. Julia turned to say something and stopped dead when she saw the paper.   "What is that?"   Ainslie was taken aback by the sharpness of Julia's tone. "Uh, a little map so--"   Julia slapped the notes out of Ainslie's hands and stomped on them, digging in and twisting her sandal's pointed heel to rip the paper to shreds. Ainslie gawked.   "You can't do things like that here," Julia hissed. "Haven't you been paying attention?"   Julia glanced around, like she was afraid of being overheard. They were stood in the middle of a section proclaiming itself to be "The History of Magic, 18th century European." Julia was too elegant and contained to do anything like shudder, but Ainslie got the distinct feeling that she wanted to.   "I'm only going to tell you this one more time, Ainslie," Julia said. "But the more you try to understand Magic, the more she fucks you up."
 

History of Magic

The Age of "Enlightenment"

  Magic was quite pleased with the inhabitants of Terra through what the Europeans call the Middle Ages. Widespread belief in Catholicism and Judaism, in particular, encouraged the practice of magic by both highly specialized members of the clergy and regular people who managed to stay off that clergy's radar.   This all changed with the Renaissance and its philosophies of logic, reason, and--above all--empiricism. Practitioners in all fields, including magic, began experimenting in systematic ways and recording their results, seeking underlying laws of nature. It's rare for a methodological advance to result in a discipline's destruction, but that's exactly what happened to European magic. Magic was, we assume, deeply, deeply displeased by humans' attempts to quantify and systematize her workings. The result was Magic's wholesale withdrawal from Europe, known as The Long Nap. This was utterly disastrous for the field, as previous reliable potions became no better than water (and many much worse), elemental magic lost its potency, and even divine (and diabolic) rituals failed to achieve their objectives. Mundane Europeans, particularly the scientists, laughed the entire idea of magic off as a bad joke, one that had only lasted this long because of the stranglehold religion had on both culture and the state.   It wasn't until Baoying Liang founded Pearl College in the United States that Europeans (including, of course, those who colonized the Americas) accepted that studying magic was even possible. By that point European magic had shrunk dramatically. From a formerly well-known, if never exactly mainstream, profession it sank into a hidden world, populated mostly by those whose families or religious orders had magical histories. Fear of accidentally kicking off another Long Nap undergirds much of the contemporary magical world, leading to practices such as The Potpourri Hypothesis.

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

"European" is a broad term covering those who live on the planet of Earth and continent of Europe in the Terra plane. A plethora of languages and dialects shelter under its umbrella, but during this period the most prominent were French, English, and German. Scholars also still wrote in Latin and, relatively newly interested in their own roots, read Classical Greek.

Shared customary codes and values

Empiricism, logic, rationalism, and all things observation-and-trial were the central value of European scientists and occultists during the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment. If mundane nature followed clear, observable laws then surely magical nature must do the same. Surely.

Art & Architecture

The Europeans built classical palaces for their academies, with tall domed roofs to let in the light, wide open rooms for debate, and sturdy tables for lab experiments. They hung art of all shapes and sizes on the wall like hunters displaying their prey as trophies. The mundane academies still stand today, mostly as grand museums and the great universities of the continent.   The buildings were so beautiful. It's almost a shame there wasn't any magic left to conjure in them.

Historical figures

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)   Bacon preceded the so-called Age of Enlightenment, but his treatise Novum Organum formed a crucial foundation for scientists and occultists during this time. He advocated for both empiricism and inductive reasoning, which came to be called "the scientific method." His ideas were transformative for European understanding of mundane nature and utterly disastrous for European magic.
Robert Daniel Jones (1653-1709)   Jones was a mediocre English wizard whose name should have faded into obscurity but is instead infamous for ushering in The Long Nap. Jones had been appointed Royal Wizard to the court of King William III and Queen Mary II in England upon their deposing of King James II in 1688. Very few court officials carried over from the Catholic James' regime into William and Mary's; letters from the period suggest that the new Protestant monarchs had few connections to England's magical practitioners, who had generally been Catholic or Satanist. That same disinterest in magic hardened into outright disdain when Jones proved impotent against the fires that burned down the Palace of Whitehall. William and Mary officially dissolved the post of Royal Wizard, which was never to be reinstated.
Leon Stilzer (1793-1871)   Stilzer's successful transmutation of straw into gold in 1818 is traditionally taken as the end of The Long Nap. Stilzer was--or sincerely believed himself to be, which was likely a key factor--a descendant of Rumpelstiltskin, Famous in Rhyme. Rather than make his fortune in the magical world, however, Stilzer used his gold as capital to set himself up in trade. Had he been better at it, the sources of his funds might have come into question. As he was a famously incompetent financial manager, however, his use of magic went unnoticed until brought forward by the family in the Modern Era.


Cover image: Louis XIV Visiting the Royal Academy of Sciences by S├ębastien Leclerc I