Magazine article History Today

Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries

Magazine article History Today

Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries

Article excerpt

The Spanish Inquisition by Joseph Perez (Profile Books, 16.99 [pounds sterling]) details the 350 years of terror inflicted by the Spanish Inquisition. Established by Papal Bull in 1478, its first targets were the Jews, then humanists and Lutherans. The author, a distinguished Spanish professor of history, sets out the activities, rationale and punishments favoured by the Inquisition in sometimes graphic detail, and estimates the number of victims burned at the stake as nearly 32,000. He considers the impact of the Inquisition on Spanish cultural life and compares its role as an instrument of social control with that of the KGB in Stalin's USSR.

Home and Homelessness in the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds (University of Notre Dame Press $40) edited by Nicholas Howe serves as a set of case studies for exploring the ways in which people experienced home and homelessness between the eighth and sixteenth centuries.

Mark Monmonier's Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercetor Projection (University of Chicago Press 17.50 [pounds sterling]) offers an account of the controversies surrounding Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator's legacy. Mariners benefited most from Mercator's projection, which allowed for easy navigation of the high seas with thumb lines (clear-cut routes with a constant compass bearing) for true direction. But the projection's popularity among nineteenth century sailors led to its overuse for wall maps, world atlases, and geopolitical propaganda.

Walsingham: Elizabeth's Spymaster by Alan Haynes (Sutton Publishing, 20 [pounds sterling]), the first book on Walsingham for more than a hundred years, aims to restore a great Elizabethan to his rightful place in history and paint a vivid and unsettling picture of his age.

The heavily illustrated Sir Francis Drake, by historian of cartography and exploration Peter Whitfield, in the British Library's Historic Lives series (12.95 [pounds sterling]), seeks to reconcile the heroic legend with the facts of his life.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare by the distinguished Shakespearean scholar Stephen Greenblatt (Jonathan Cape, 20 [pounds sterling]), rediscovers the man and his world, it is a fascinating social history of Elizabethan and early Jacobean England and describes the raucous, bawdy and tumultuous life of Bankside; the subterfuge and fervour of devout Catholics forced into hiding; the everyday concerns and aspirations of the countryman and the political machinations and fears of the Court.

Including accounts of crimes, criminals and punishments--and what people thought about them--Murder in Early Modern England by Vanessa McMahon (Hambledon & London, 19.95 [pounds sterling]) looks at the incidence and meaning of murder in seventeenth-century England.

Thinking of the Laity in Late Tudor England (University of Notre Dame Press $40 cloth) by Peter Iver Kaufman explains why proposals for expanding lay prerogatives failed to shape the Elizabethan religious settlement from the 1560s through to the 1580s.

Most previous studies of Royalist high command in the Civil Wars have concentrated upon a handful of individuals such as the King himself and Prince Rupert. Cavalier Generals: King Charles I and His Commanders in the English CMI War 1642-1646 by John Barratt (Pen and Sword, 19.99 [pounds sterling]) re-examines these key figures, and also explores the careers and characters of some of the lesser known, but equally able, Royalist officers. …

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