“Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good,” [Craig Koslovsky] says. The night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks. “Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night.”
That changed in the wake of the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, now respectable people became accustomed to exploiting the hours of darkness. This trend migrated to the social sphere too, but only for those who could afford to live by candlelight.
With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes. In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed. London didn’t join their ranks until 1684 but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe’s major towns and cities were lit at night. Night became fashionable and spending hours lying in bed was considered a waste of time.