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At the heart of this book is a surprisingly straightforward methodology: an examination of responses given by witnesses in church court cases to two questions designed to probe their reliability: what were they 'worth'? (that is, the value of their moveable goods with all their debts paid); and how did they maintain themselves?
For the majority of ordinary people in early modern England, the moral and the economic were closely aligned. Alongside material changes and a growing market ideology, traditional ideas about religion, duty, and community continued to influence economic relationships and practices well into the 18th century.
It is a rare thing for a reviewer to read a book which on its own terms, in its content and argument, leaves nothing open to serious criticism. Professor Diarmaid Ferriter’s Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s is one such book.