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In March 1997 the Society for Renaissance Studies and Gresham College together organised a conference to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Gresham College’s foundation. The papers delivered at that conference and assembled in this book examine why Gresham College was established, and how its purposes and activities dovetailed with the socio-cultural life of Elizabethan and Stuart London. The first group of papers considers the social and mercantile career of Sir Thomas Gresham within the commercial centre of Elizabethan London; why he wished to establish Gresham College; and what functions he may have intended it to serve. The second group sets the academic activities of the College and its professors within the broader context of contemporary intellectual life. Papers in this group consider in what ways early Gresham professors contributed in particular to developments in the more practical disciplines such as geometry and astronomy.