It is refreshing to be told by William Hagen that 'refractoriness and insubordination proved to be Prussian virtues'.(p. 645) This statement would not be surprising about nineteenth-century Prussian working-class culture, but it is about early modern nobles and peasants.
I do not know whether the Italian title of this book (Vita di casa) is an allusion to Mario Praz and his autobiography La casa della vita (Milan, 1958), but it would be fitting. In that book Mario Praz guides the reader through his Roman house and tells his life during the tour.
History on this scale is a daunting task, not just for the breadth of scholarship it requires but also because it lays before the author the powerful temptations of platitude and over-generalization. Geoffrey Hosking, as he has amply shown elsewhere, is a historian who can draw a big picture without losing his curiosity, his feel for detail, or his capacity for concise but penetrating summary.
In a famous essay on the tenacity of the Burckhardtian conception of the Renaissance, Johan Huizinga wrote that '[A]t the sound of the word ‘Renaissance’ the dreamer of past beauty sees purple and gold.' After reading Carole Collier Frick’s engrossing, multi-layered book, Huizinga’s romantic dreamers will have to become far more nuanced in their visual imaginings of the past.
Although the Electorate of Saxony was one of the most influential Protestant territories in the Holy Roman Empire, it has received little attention from English scholars.
The book I have before me feels rather expensive, well-made, a hardback with a striking dust jacket bearing an enlarged portion of an historic print. Inside, the paper is silky smooth, the ink dark and clean, the layout elegant with generous outer margins. The illustrations too are clean and clear, dropped into the text.
Since the 1970s historians have been redressing the longstanding omission of women from virtually all types of history. We now know much more about women’s experiences in the past, both in their own right and as contributors to larger historical events, than had previously been the case.
In recent decades, the fields of women's and gender studies have rapidly expanded. In trying to understand women's roles in past societies, historians have paid particular attention to issues surrounding marriage, family, and the household.
Early-modern Europe (here covering the years from 1492 to 1750) was constantly beset by plagues of all kinds. Scarcely a year passed in western Europe until the 1720s without an outbreak of ‘pestilence’, and scarcely a decade without a major epidemic that killed ten, twenty, or even forty per cent of the community. Expansion brought with it new dangers.
The feverish speculation in tulip bulbs which reached a peak in February 1637, together with the crash that followed, is one of the more notorious episodes in 17th-century Dutch history.