Evelyn Welch's Shopping in the Renaissance. Consumer Cultures in Italy 1400–1600 is a fascinating study which turns a common social practice into a compelling subject of research. The author's ability to employ different historical approaches at the same time confirms that cultural, social, economic and art history can enhance each other.
On the opening page of her new book Privacy and Solitude in the Middle Ages, Diana Webb identifies its driving interests: first, 'in what medieval people regarded as reason or justification for retreating, permanently or temporarily, from the wider society, and secondly in their awareness of their dwelling spaces'.
In the introductory chapter to her engaging book, Ruth Watts remarks on the 'dissonance' between women and science and the seeming paucity of scholarly literature on the subject. Upon deeper investigation, however, Watts soon discovers that she is mistaken.
The History of George Akropolites describes an exceptional period in Byzantine history, between the loss of Constantinople to the forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the reconquest of the city by Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261.
Europe after Rome: A New Cultural History 500-1000 should be read completely by all early medievalists, who will then endeavour to assign relevant portions on student reading lists (an example is given near the end of this review) while urging the best and most interested students to read the whole thing.
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.
Euan Cameron, former Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Newcastle, now Henry Luce III Professor of Reformation Church History at Union Theological Seminary in New York, has written a fascinating and, in many ways, remarkable study.
For an outsider contemplating historiography on the early middle ages, it is a tribute to the subject’s vitality that a book of over nine-hundred pages of text should claim to be less than a definitive statement and aims ‘only to provide the raw material for a better synthesis to do so in the future’. The rather appealing modesty is misplaced.
How does one find information about an author, an anonymous text, or a genre of writing from a particular region in the middle ages? Where does one search for writers of saints’ lives, authors of diaries or letters, historians, and chroniclers?
This book is the result of a bold and innovative research project funded between 1999 and 2002 by the then Arts and Humanities Research Board, with further funds provided subsequently by a number of scholarly institutions. The preface further acknowledges the support of a glittering array of scholars, not least Geoffrey Parker who read through the entire draft.