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Townspeople and Nation: English Urban Experiences, 1540-1640
The century bounded by the Henrician Reformation and the Civil Wars marked an important stage in the development of urban institutions, culture, and society in England. At the outset of this period, England was still very much an agrarian society; by its end, it was well on the way to becoming an urban one as well. The complexity and subtlety of those...
The century bounded by the Henrician Reformation and the Civil Wars marked an important stage in the development of urban institutions, culture, and society in England. At the outset of this period, England was still very much an agrarian society; by its end, it was well on the way to becoming an urban one as well. The complexity and subtlety of those developments become especially vivid when we experience them through the lives of more or less ordinary townspeople, which Tittler allows us to do here.These biographical studies not only have much to tell us about the time and milieu, but also provide an array of interesting and varied characters: Henry Manship, the historian of his native Yarmouth; Henry Hardware, who removed “the giant, the naked boys and the devil in feathers” from Chester’s Midsummer Show; Robert Swaddon the swindler and John Pulman the “thief-taker” of London; Joyce Jeffries, the spinster money-lender of Hereford; John Brown, the speculator in dissolved monastic lands in Boston; John Pitt, the overseer of guildhall construction in Blandford Forum; John and Joan Cooke, the Mayor and Mayoress of Gloucester, the subjects of a most revealing posthumous portrait; and Sir Thomas White of London, the philanthropist and “merchant hero.” Tittler introduces these studies with a comprehensive but succinct description of English towns and cities of the time.
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