"A Law-Abiding and Litigious Society", Christopher Brooks. The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, John Morrill ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996.
I bought the Oxford Illustrated History and I wanted to read this article first because I will be going to Law School, and I am interested in law, and also I thought I might like to incorporate that somehow into Caterina's character, like maybe her husband is a JP but she has to do all of the work because he's too sick or something. Anyway, this article was divided into three parts (somewhat like Gaul). The first part I thought was the most interesting, since it talked a little bit about the practice of law in Tudor and Stuart times, how one became a lawyer, and what the different types of law were in England. The other two parts talked about what kind of lawsuits were most commonly brought before the courts, and how the types changed over time. It talked about law during the Commonwealth, and how there were more lawsuits during times of social discord or upheaval than during stable periods. These parts would have been more interesting or informative if there had been actual examples. Oh well. I guess I will have to do more research...
"The Changing Landscape". Tom Webster.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, John Morrill ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996.
This article was about (unsurprisingly) how the landscape of England changed during the period in question. Webster covers a lot of different areas -- agriculture, enclosure, industry, economy, urban development -- extensiveley, but not in-depth. I got the feeling that each subsection of this paper could at least have been a chapter in a book about this subject, if not an entire book by itself. I'm not saying I would read an entire book on this subject, but I guess if my curiosity had really been aroused by one of the sections in this papers I could have gone out and found a book about the same subject.
Webster outlines the different types of agriculture and animal husbandry which were current in the period fairly clearly -- I definitely understood what he was talking about when he referred back to these terms in later parts of the essay. I only had one wish for this section -- he mentioned a peculiar reverse-S shape which was apparently common in fields in this period, but there were no pictures of it and I really had trouble picturing what he meant.
His section on enclosure was a lot more disappointing. I've never really been clear on what enclosure is and what its implications are, even though it's frequently mentioned as a major catalyst of change or upheaval in England. I hoped that this essay would clear up my confusions, but after a promising introductory paragraph, I just got even more confused than before. Webster went to a lot of trouble to explain different types of enclosure, but then I didn't feel that he really made it clear which types of enclosure were affecting which parts of England in which ways.
He gives some time to the Fens, a part of England I didn't really know about at all until someone mentioned it at the Ithra over the Easter weekend. It was interesting to read about the efforts that were made to reclaim this land from the sea, and his description of how the customs and ways of life of the people there were changed by the reclamation efforts was almost poignant.
Webster enumerates the various sorts of agriculture and industry which sprung up in various regions, and gives possible reasons for regional specialization. I found this section quite interesting as well -- I think it's important to know what kinds of commodities are available to a culture in order to better understand it. The last few sections were about urban centres -- county towns, market towns, and of course London, which was actually three separate centres at the time. These parts again were quite interesting -- I hope to read more about urban life and culture in subsequent sections of this book. I guess I should probably be hoping to read more about rural life and culture as well, since Caterina lives in the country.
Oh well, this article was interesting enough, if a little textbook-y (I have to try and get in practice for all of the reading I will have to do starting in the fall). Nothing really piqued my interest enough to make me want to run out and read more on the topic, though, so it only gets one and a half pints.