Figures in the Landscape: Rural Society in England, 1500–1700, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Figures in the Landscape

Rural Society in England, 1500–1700, 1st Edition

By Margaret Spufford


376 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788041
pub: 2000-07-07
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How did the ’peasantry’ of early modern England react to the Reformation and to subsequent changes in their churches? Were they involved in founding dissenting churches? Could they even read? And if so, what was available for them? This volume brings together a key set of papers on such subjects by one of the foremost recent English social historians. Margaret Spufford has been a pioneer, in the particular social ’landscape’ of early modern England, of the techniques of ’total history’, and her work has helped shift the historical understanding of seventeenth-century commoners away from merely economic models and toward a perspective in which religious, cultural, educational and geographical factors are also seen as integral parts of the environment of the past.


'… it is beyond doubt that the work of Margaret Spufford has greatly furthered our understanding of life in rural early modern England…. It is essential to any historian or student interested in the ordinary people in early modern England and the ordinary communities they inhabited…' Reviews in History '… displays the impressive depth and range of Spufford's research, reprinting work of real importance to ecclesiastical historians.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Table of Contents

Contents: Sources for People: The scope of the enquiry; The scribes of villagers’ wills in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and their influence; The limitations of the probate inventory; The significance of the Cambridgeshire hearth tax; Landscape with Figures: A Cambridge community: Chippenham from settlement to enclosure; Isaac Archer’s Chippenham and Chippenham Hall: a postscript; Who made a will in village society; Families, will witnesses, and economic structure in the Fens and on the Chalk: sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Willingham and Chippenham; The pedlar and the historian: seventeenth-century communications; Schooling, Literacy and Print for Poor People: First steps in literacy: the reading and writing experiences of the humblest seventeenth-century spiritual autobiographers; Women teaching reading to poor children in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; The People and their Religion: The Dissenting churches in Cambridgeshire from 1660 to 1700; Puritanism and social control; Can we count the ’Godly’ and the ’Conformable’ in the seventeenth century?; The importance of the Lord’s Supper to the seventeenth-century dissenters; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General