The English Parish Church through the Centuries is an interesting example of how digital media can be used to improve and enhance our understanding of the past.
This is a book which could very easily slip under the radar of most historians. Even had they noticed the title, and had their curiosity piqued by the sub-title, after checking the academic discipline of the author (Julian Rivers is Professor of Jurisprudence at Bristol University) many might well have decided that this book was probably of no professional interest to them.
To a political historian, little is more important than politics (in the broad sense, as in the case of this book, incorporating religious division and the Reformation), and a book about a parliament is pre-eminently political.
The idea of an age of absolutism has lately fallen out of fashion, for several reasons. The word absolutism was coined only in the 19th century and the concept of a generic absolutist model can easily obscure significant differences between various monarchical states.
The History of Parliament is widely recognised as a monumental scholarly achievement. Since its origins in the dreams of Josiah Wedgwood in the early part of the 20th century, and then its establishment as a charitable trust in 1940 (with government funding from 1951), it has produced a voluminous output.
Professor Dyer’s A Country Merchant represents the development of several emerging themes in late medieval and early modern history: for one, the increasing recognition of the long 15th century, and especially the period roughly framed by the reign of Henry VII, as an important ‘Age of Transition’, most eloquently highlighted in his own book of that title.(1)
This collection of essays forms an excellent Festschrift for Professor John Hatcher, whose eclectic range of research is displayed by the volume’s division into three parts: the first explores the medieval demographic system; the second charts the changing relationship between lords and peasants; and the third highlights the fortunes of trade and industry after the Black Death.
Marjorie McIntosh is one of the foremost social and cultural historians of her generation, and has done much to advance the cause of later medieval and early modern English history. Her Controlling Misbehavior in England, 1370-1600 (1) was a pathbreaking study, and she has also published extensively on women’s work in late medieval and early modern England.
Socialising the child explores the role of the household and school in socialising the children of the gentry and the middle ranks of urban society between 1400 and 1600, outlining how childhood was imagined by writers and educators, and how it was presented to child and adult readers in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The ‘great divide’ between the medieval and the early modern is nowhere more apparent than in ‘the history of the book’ – a field of study in which it has been particularly damaging to our understanding of the processes by which books and other texts were manufactured and distributed in the 15th and 16th centuries.