As even the most casual observer of the British historical scene must know, the 'agricultural revolution' has proved both elusive and highly contentious. French 'immobilism', on the other hand, has become something of a commonplace, although explanations for this supposed failure are less consensual. Philip Hoffman's very welcome new book has two overriding merits.
In the last twenty years or so there have been great transformations in the historiography of modern South Asia. It would not be too crude an exaggeration to say that no western historian of much intellectual ambition engaged with the subject from James Mill in the early nineteenth century until after the second world war, while Indian historians were little known outside the subcontinent.
For at least the first half of the twentieth century, Scottish history could be said to have stopped in 1707. The history of the Scottish nation was the history of Bruce, Wallace and the Douglases; of knights in armour, cross-border warfare and corrupt priests.
By official decree, Brazil celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2000: the modern history of the country dating from April, 1500, when a fleet commanded by Pedro Alvares Cabral anchored at Porto Seguro on the north-east coast of Bahia.
The flight of Jews out of Nazi Germany has been the subject of much attention. Virtually every country that witnessed the entry of Jews in the 1930s has had its experiences discussed in at least one book.(1) Britain is no exception.
The arrival of this new synthesis provides an occasion for Elizabethan military historians to reflect how far this field has come in the past twenty years, as has the whole field of early modern military history.
Courts and Conflict in Twelfth-Century Tuscany is the first English version, slightly revised, of a study that was previously published in an Italian translation (Legge, Practiche e Conflitti [Rome: Viella libreria editrice, 2000]).
Caroline M. Barron’s book on London traces the history England’s largest medieval city, including its governmental structure, relations with the crown, its economy and guilds and its physical environment.
In the 1990s medieval historians were very preoccupied with border studies. No sooner had the dust settled on the collapse of the Berlin Wall than medievalists were taking advantage of no frills air travel to jet off and discuss borders, frontiers and marches.
For medievalists, the long-awaited appearance of Gerald Harriss’s volume in the New Oxford History of England constitutes a major publishing event. In this superb study a leading academic historian, K. B. McFarlane’s successor at Magdalen, offers an authoritative summing-up of a period which saw medieval England transformed.