The “public sphere” as Habermas envisioned it developed fully in the eighteenth century, but it built on earlier formal and informal groups of people who gathered together to talk, argue, and debate. In the cities of the Italian Renaissance, humanists thought of themselves as belonging to the “Republic of Letters,” a phrase they invented that came to mean those who engaged in learned exchange of all types, both oral and written. The most formal of these were learned academies and societies, originally devoted to studying the classics, but by the end of the sixteenth century often with the broader goals of encouraging learned conversation on many topics. Many academies were short-lived private gatherings, but several gained royal patronage and grew into national academies, usually with a very limited number of members. The Académie Française, for example, which focused on French language and culture, was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII and still exists today. During the seventeenth century, academies specifi cally devoted to the study of nature and science were founded in Rome, Florence, Paris, London, and elsewhere. The Royal Society of London (founded 1660) collected specimens for study, supported experiments using new types of instruments such as the air pump and the barometer, and published reports. The Academy of Science in Berlin, founded in 1700 by the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) for the Electress Sophie Charlotte, supported astronomical and other types of scientifi c study. In the middle of the eighteenth century, some new learned societies saw their mission as (in the words of the Royal Dublin Society, founded in 1731) “promoting husbandry, manufactures, and other useful arts.” They wanted to apply learning to practical problems and make knowledge available to a broader public, so they published their fi ndings in the vernacular, not Latin. Learned societies, fi rst in Italy and then elsewhere, put together permanent collections of natural objects: what we would today call museums of natural history but were then usually termed “chambers of wonders” or “cabinets of curiosities.” These contained strange things found locally – unusual specimens of plants, animals born with birth defects (preserved in jars or mounted and stuffed), fossils, beautiful geological formations such as geodes – and objects brought in from European voyages around the world. Collections were initially private, but many were gradually opened to the public; as Robert Hooke (1635–1703), the fi rst curator of the collection of the Royal Society in London, commented, viewing a collection offered visitors opportunity to “peruse, and turn over, and spell, and read the Book of Nature.” As museums do today, the founders of these collections sought wealthy patrons who could provide permanent buildings and the resources to obtain still more objects; Peter the Great amassed a huge collection, specializing in archeological fi nds from Siberia and central Russia. Along with the “wonders of nature,” collections included art and artifacts from Europe’s past and from different parts of the world, jumbling together human-produced and natural objects in an effort to awe and astonish. Visitors discussed what they had seen or wrote about it in letters and essays. Some collections issued printed catalogs, so that even those who could not afford to visit could know the wonders they contained. Wealthy young men, especially from England, visited collections as part of their “Grand Tour” of the cultural and intellectual centers of Europe, designed to give them polish and sophistication. The members of one learned society, the Academy of Linceans (that is, of the lynx), whose most famous member was the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, decided to make a pictorial record of all of nature. They traveled all over Europe, making drawings of materials in collections. Many of these collections became the foundation of later national museums, and by the last half of the eighteenth century a few of these began organizing their holdings in ways that emphasized the order rather than the exuberance of nature. Learned societies and museums were only some of the places where discussion fl ourished in European cities. The Society of Freemasons, a fraternal voluntary association whose exact origins are disputed, established lodges fi rst in England and then on the continent, where members gathered to discuss politics as well as science and learning. In Edinburgh, discussion groups met at the universities, in private homes, and in the city’s many taverns – one estimate is six hundred drinking establishments in a town of only forty thousand people. Individuals in Paris established clubs called musées in the late eighteenth century, in which people paid a fee to hear lectures, watch or perform scientifi c experiments, and participate in discussions on a range of issues. Several of these had hundreds of members; fees were too high for artisans or workers, but lawyers, offi cials, shop-owners, and even a few middle-class women joined. Societies and clubs devoted to “progress” and the “useful trades,” and lodges of Freemasons, sprang up in European colonial cities like Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro as well, whose members were in frequent contact with European thinkers. At about the time that national scientifi c academies were being founded, elite women in Paris created a more informal and private institution that would allow them greater access to the “Republic of Letters” – the salon. Salons were gatherings of men and women for formal and informal discussion of topics decided upon by the women who ran them, held in the drawing rooms ( salons in French) of their own homes. The salonnière , or salon hostess, selected the guests, determined whether the conversation on any particular night would be serious or light, and decided whether additional activities such as singing, poetry readings or dramatic productions would be part of the evening’s offerings. She took what she did seriously, preparing herself by reading and practicing letter-writing and conversational skills. Salonnières did not have any offi cial public or academic role, but the approval of certain salon hostesses was often an unoffi cial requirement for a man to gain election to the Académie Française, the highest honor for a French intellectual or writer. (No woman was elected to the Académie Française until 1979, and there were only a handful of women in any European national academy; the fi rst woman was elected as a full member to the British Royal Society in 1935.) Writers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) warned that salons were “feminizing” French culture and weakening the country’s military and work ethic. In the later eighteenth century, salons became important institutions in the development and dissemination of philosophical ideas associated with the Enlightenment. They were places where wealthy nobles, professionals, and members of the clergy who were interested in new ideas or cultural forms met less-well-off writers and artists. English and German women also created salons on the French model; those in Germany were one of the few places where Christians and Jews could mix. Members of learned societies and others interested in literature and learning discussed their ideas orally or in letters, and by the late seventeenth century circulated them in printed journals, such as Pierre Bayle’s News from the Republic of Letters (1684). The English journals The Tatler (1709–11) and The Spectator (1711–12), edited by the playwright Richard Steele and the poet Joseph Addison, had circulations in the tens of thousands, which meant they were read by far more people than just a small elite. They included essays by their editors, commentary on theatrical productions, and a skillful mixture of society news and social criticism. Readers were encouraged to respond, and their letters were printed, so that the circle of authors as well as readers expanded. Similar literary journals appeared later in the eighteenth century in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. In many European states journals and books that included material too critical of the church or the government were often censored or banned, but such efforts were not very effective at limiting the spread of ideas. Philosophical and political works in many languages were published in tolerant Amsterdam or in Switzerland, and then smuggled to eager readers, while works that criticized or satirized political fi gures and religious authorities were easily available with a word to the right bookseller. Along with journals, newspapers were an important element in the circulation of ideas. A regular postal service allowed printed publications to be delivered on a set schedule, and the fi rst printed newspaper appeared in Germany in 1605. Newspapers soon appeared in other central and western European countries, and by the eighteenth century there were a few daily newspapers in larger cities, and weekly or twice-weekly papers elsewhere. They were generally sold by subscription, and initially contained little or no advertising, as businesses did not see the point of paying to market their products. Coffeehouses, taverns, wine-shops, and cafés did see the point of providing newspapers for their patrons to read, so that a single subscription was often read by many people, provoking animated discussion. Rulers recognized that the press could be a powerful force; they required publishers to get a license, fed information about laws and government activities to them, and routinely censored unfl attering news. Besides their local newspapers, educated people often read and discussed international French-language newspapers printed in the Netherlands.