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The Age of Beloveds
Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society
Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli
Duke University Press, 2005
The Age of Beloveds offers a rich introduction to early modern Ottoman culture through a study of its beautiful lyric love poetry. At the same time, it suggests provocative cross-cultural parallels in the sociology and spirituality of love in Europe—from Istanbul to London—during the long sixteenth century. Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli provide a generous sampling of translations of Ottoman poems, many of which have never appeared in English, along with informative and inspired close readings. The authors explain that the flourishing of Ottoman power and culture during the “Turkish Renaissance” manifested itself, to some degree, as an “age of beloveds,” in which young men became the focal points for the desire and attention of powerful officeholders and artists as well as the inspiration for a rich literature of love.

The authors show that the “age of beloveds” was not just an Ottoman, eastern European, or Islamic phenomenon. It extended into western Europe as well, pervading the cultures of Venice, Florence, Rome, and London during the same period. Andrews and Kalpakli contend that in an age dominated by absolute rulers and troubled by war, cultural change, and religious upheaval, the attachments of dependent courtiers and the longings of anxious commoners aroused an intense interest in love and the beloved. The Age of Beloveds reveals new commonalities in the cultural history of two worlds long seen as radically different.


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Arguments Against the Christian Religion in Amsterdam by Saul Levi Morteira, Spinoza's Rabbi
Gregory Kaplan
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
This is the first book to offer a translation into English-as well as a critical study-of a Spanish treatise written around 1650 by Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira, whose most renowned congregant was Baruch Spinoza. Aimed at encouraging the practice of halachic Judaism among the Amsterdam-based descendants of conversos, Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity, the book stages a dialogue between two conversos that ultimately leads to a vision of a Jewish homeland-an outcome that Morteira thought was only possible through his program for rejudaisation.

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Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400-1600
Pamela O. Long
Oregon State University Press, 2011

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Autobiography and Letters of a Spanish Nun
María Vela y Cueto
Iter Press, 2016

When María Vela y Cueto (1561–1617) declared that God had personally ordered her to take only the Eucharist as food and to restore primitive dress and public penance in her aristocratic convent, the entire religious community, according to her confessor, “rose up in wrath.” Yet, when Vela died, her peers joined with the populace to declare her a saint. In her autobiography and personal letters, Vela speaks candidly of the obstacles, perils, and rewards of re-negotiating piety in a convent where devotion to God was no longer expressed through rigorous asceticism. Vela’s experience, told in her own words, reveals her shrewd understanding of the persuasive power of a woman’s body.


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Being a Jesuit in Renaissance Italy
Biographical Writing in the Early Global Age
Camilla Russell
Harvard University Press, 2022

A new history illuminates the Society of Jesus in its first century from the perspective of those who knew it best: the early Jesuits themselves.

The Society of Jesus was established in 1540. In the century that followed, thousands sought to become Jesuits and pursue vocations in religious service, teaching, and missions. Drawing on scores of unpublished biographical documents housed at the Roman Jesuit Archive, Camilla Russell illuminates the lives of those who joined the Society, building together a religious and cultural presence that remains influential the world over.

Tracing Jesuit life from the Italian provinces to distant missions, Russell sheds new light on the impact and inner workings of the Society. The documentary record reveals a textual network among individual members, inspired by Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The early Jesuits took stock of both quotidian and spiritual experiences in their own records, which reflect a community where the worldly and divine overlapped. Echoing the Society’s foundational writings, members believed that each Jesuit’s personal strengths and inclinations offered a unique contribution to the whole—an attitude that helps explain the Society’s widespread appeal from its first days.

Focusing on the Jesuits’ own words, Being a Jesuit in Renaissance Italy offers a new lens on the history of spirituality, identity, and global exchange in the Renaissance. What emerges is a kind of genetic code—a thread connecting the key Jesuit works to the first generations of Jesuits and the Society of Jesus as it exists today.


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Came Men on Horses
The Conquistador Expeditions of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Oñate
Stan Hoig
University Press of Colorado, 2013
Guided by myths of golden cities and worldly rewards, policy makers, conquistador leaders, and expeditionary aspirants alike came to the new world in the sixteenth century and left it a changed land. Came Men on Horses follows two conquistadors--Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Oñate--on their journey across the southwest.

Driven by their search for gold and silver, both Coronado and Oñate committed atrocious acts of violence against the Native Americans, and fell out of favor with the Spanish monarchy. Examining the legacy of these two conquistadors Hoig attempts to balance their brutal acts and selfish motivations with the historical significance and personal sacrifice of their expeditions. Rich human details and superb story-telling make Came Men on Horses a captivating narrative scholars and general readers alike will appreciate.


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Clément Marot's Epistles
Clément Marot
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2021
The first complete, versified English-language translation of the epistles of Renaissance poet Clément Marot.
Clément Marot (1496–1544), a royal poet in Renaissance France who ushered in new verse forms and renewed existing ones, stands as one of the most important literary voices of the first half of the sixteenth century. Clément Marot’s Epistles represents a first attempt to offer a sustained English-language translation and critical edition of what is widely considered his most personal, historically relevant, and crowning verse form. Aiming for integrality and poetic precision, the volume translates and sets to verse all seventy-four of Marot’s epistles, employing the same meter and rhyme scheme used by the poet in the original compositions. Likewise focused on capturing Marot’s poetic voice, thus maintaining idiomatic and literary integrity, the resulting translation is an attempt to relate the playfulness and pathos of Marot’s verse, rendering it accessible to an anglophone public.
Beyond the more traditional verse epistles included in the primary base text, Marot’s authorized complete works from 1538, the volume also offers translations of the introductory prose epistles penned by Marot for his Adolescence clémentine of 1532 and the 1538 edition (Lyon, Dolet), as well as the coq-à-l’âne and other versified satirical epistles, the “artificial epistle” retelling of a popular medieval romance, and more. A robust critical apparatus includes ample footnotes, an extensive introduction, illustrations, a bibliography, a chronological table, and a concordance with the principal modern French-language editions of Marot’s epistles.

The book should appeal to English-speaking historians and literary scholars alike, as well as to poetry lovers, who will appreciate a new acquaintance with this distinctive voice from poetry’s past.

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Creating Place in Early Modern European Architecture
Elizabeth Merrill
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
The importance of place—as a unique spatial identity—has been recognized since antiquity. Ancient references to the ‘genius loci’, or spirit of place, evoked not only the location of a distinct atmosphere or environment, but also the protection of this location, and implicitly, its making and construction. This volume examines the concept of place as it relates to architectural production and building knowledge in early modern Europe (1400-1800). The places explored in the book’s ten essays take various forms, from an individual dwelling to a cohesive urban development to an extensive political territory. Within the scope of each study, the authors draw on primary source documents and original research to demonstrate the distinctive features of a given architectural place, and how these are related to a geographic location, social circumstances, and the contributions of individual practitioners. The essays underscore the distinct techniques, practices and organizational structures by which physical places were made in the early modern period.

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The Dark Thread
From Tragical Histories to Gothic Tales
John D. Lyons
University of Delaware Press, 2011
In The Dark Thread, scholars examine a set of important and perennial narrative motifs centered on violence within the family as they have appeared in French, English, Spanish, and American literatures. Over fourteen essays, contributors highlight the connections between works from early modernity and subsequent texts from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, in which incidents such as murder, cannibalism, poisoning, the burial of the living, the failed burial of the dead, and subsequent apparitions of ghosts that haunt the household unite “high” and “low” cultural traditions. This book questions the traditional separation between the highly honored genre of tragedy and the less respected and generally less well-known genres of histoires tragiques, gothic tales and novels, and horror stories.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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The Dynamics of Learning in Early Modern Italy
Arts and Medicine at the University of Bologna
David A. Lines
Harvard University Press, 2023

A pathbreaking history of early modern education argues that Europe’s oldest university, often seen as a bastion of traditionalism, was in fact a vibrant site of intellectual innovation and cultural exchange.

The University of Bologna was among the premier universities in medieval Europe and an international magnet for students of law. However, a long-standing historiographical tradition holds that Bologna—and Italian university education more broadly—foundered in the early modern period. On this view, Bologna’s curriculum ossified and its prestige crumbled, due at least in part to political and religious pressure from Rome. Meanwhile, new ways of thinking flourished instead in humanist academies, scientific societies, and northern European universities.

David Lines offers a powerful counternarrative. While Bologna did decline as a center for the study of law, he argues, the arts and medicine at the university rose to new heights from 1400 to 1750. Archival records show that the curriculum underwent constant revision to incorporate contemporary research and theories, developed by the likes of René Descartes and Isaac Newton. From the humanities to philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, teaching became more systematic and less tied to canonical texts and authors. Theology, meanwhile, achieved increasing prominence across the university. Although this religious turn reflected the priorities and values of the Catholic Reformation, it did not halt the creation of new scientific chairs or the discussion of new theories and discoveries. To the contrary, science and theology formed a new alliance at Bologna.

The University of Bologna remained a lively hub of cultural exchange in the early modern period, animated by connections not only to local colleges, academies, and libraries, but also to scholars, institutions, and ideas throughout Europe.


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Dystopias of Infamy
Insult and Collective Identity in Early Modern Spain
Javier Irigoyen-García
Bucknell University Press, 2022
Insults, scorn, and verbal abuse—frequently deployed to affirm the social identity of the insulter—are destined to fail when that language is appropriated and embraced by the maligned group. In such circumstances, slander may instead empower and reinforce the collective identity of those perceived to be a threat to an idealized society. In this innovative study, Irigoyen-Garcia examines how the discourse and practices of insult and infamy shaped the cultural imagination, anxieties, and fantasies of early modern Spain. Drawing on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary works, archival research, religious and political literature, and iconographic documents, Dystopias of Infamy traces how the production of insults haunts the imaginary of power, provoking latent anxieties about individual and collective resistance to subjectification. Of particular note is Cervantes’s tendency to parody regulatory fantasies about infamy throughout his work, lampooning repressive law for its paradoxical potential to instigate the very defiance it fears.

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Early Modern Studies after the Digital Turn
Edited by Laura Estill, Diane K. Jakacki, Michael Ullyot
Iter Press, 2016
The essays collected in this volume address the digital humanities’ core tensions: fast and slow; surficial and nuanced; quantitative and qualitative. Scholars design algorithms and projects to process, aggregate, encode, and regularize historical texts and artifacts in order to position them for new and further interpretations. Every essay in this book is concerned with the human-machine dynamic, as it bears on early modern research objects and methods. The interpretive work in these pages and in the online projects discussed orients us toward the extensible future of early modern scholarship after the digital turn.

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Early Modern Women Journal v14.2
Bernadette Andrea
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2020

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Early Modern Écologies
Beyond English Ecocriticism
Pauline Goul
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
Early Modern Écologies is the first collective volume to offer perspectives on the relationship between contemporary ecological thought and early modern French literature. If Descartes spoke of humans as being "masters and possessors of Nature" in the seventeenth century, the writers taken up in this volume arguably demonstrated a more complex and urgent understanding of the human relationship to our shared planet. Opening up a rich archive of literary and non-literary texts produced by Montaigne and his contemporaries, this volume foregrounds not how ecocriticism renews our understanding of a literary corpus, but rather how that corpus causes us to re-think or to nuance contemporary eco-theory. The sparsely bilingual title (an acute accent on écologies) denotes the primary task at hand: to pluralize (i.e. de-Anglophone-ize) the Environmental Humanities. Featuring established and emerging scholars from Europe and the United States, Early Modern Écologies opens up new dialogues between eco-theorists such as Timothy Morton, Gilles Deleuze, and Bruno Latour and Montaigne, Ronsard, Du Bartas, and Olivier de Serres.

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The Eco-Self in Early Modern English Literature
Elizabeth Gruber
Amsterdam University Press, 2023
The Eco-Self in Early Modern English Literature tracks an important shift in early modern conceptions of selfhood, arguing that the period hosted the birth of a new subset of the human, the eco-self, which melds a deeply introspective turn with an abiding sense of humans’ embedment in the world. A confluence of cultural factors produced the relevant changes. Of paramount significance was the rapid spread of literacy in England and across Europe: reading transformed the relationship between self and world, retooled moral reasoning, and even altered human anatomy. This book pursues the salutary possibilities, including the ecological benefits, of this redesigned self by advancing fresh readings of texts by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Webster, and Margaret Cavendish. The eco-self offers certain refinements to ecological theory by renewing appreciation for the rational, deliberative functions that distinguish humans from other species.

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England's Asian Renaissance
Su Fang Ng
University of Delaware Press, 2022
England's Asian Renaissance explores how Asian knowledges, narratives, and customs inflected early modern English literature. Just as Asian imports changed England's tastes and enriched the English language, Eastern themes, characters, and motifs helped shape the country's culture and contributed to its national identity. Questioning long-standing dichotomies between East and West and embracing a capacious understanding of translatio as geographic movement, linquistic transformation, and cultural grafting, the collection gives pride of place to convergence, approximation, and hybridity, thus underscoring the radical mobility of early modern culture. In so doing, England's Asian Renaissance also moves away from entrenched narratives of Western cultural sovereignty to think anew England's debts to Asia.

Published by the University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Lists in Medieval and Early Modern Literature
Edited by Eva von Contzen and James Simpson
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
Bestiaries. Lapidaries. Lunaries. Inventories and household vocabularies. Lists are everywhere in medieval and early modern texts––evidence of the need to manage and order knowledge and experience. Yet until now, listing as a formal practice has received scant scholarly attention. In Enlistment, foremost medievalists and early modernists from both the Anglo-American and German traditions investigate the humble list as a platform for better understanding how and why lists captivated period audiences. From epic catalogues of trees in Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser to genealogies and the names of the divine, the lists in question come from a variety of periods, languages, and genres. Throughout, contributors demonstrate how lists have the curious capacity to challenge our categories of thinking and ordering of the world. The lists we encounter in medieval and early modern literature can thus be seen as seismographs of cultural knowledge and also as testing grounds for defining the ineffable, or unfathomable, or that which would be dangerous if otherwise expressed.

Contributors: Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Ingo Berensmeyer, Eva von Contzen, Alex Davis, Andrew James Johnston, Wolfram R. Keller, Alexis Kellner Becker, Kathryn Mogk Wagner, Martha Rust, James Simpson

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Expedition of Hernando de Soto West of the Mississippi, 1541–1543
Proceedings of the de Soto Symposia, 1988 and 1990
Gloria Young
University of Arkansas Press, 1999

Back by popular demand and new in paperback, this spirited collection of nearly twenty papers celebrates the 450th anniversary of Hernando de Soto’s epic expedition across the Southeast and West.

Originally presented at two symposia conducted by the University Museum at the University of Arkansas, the collection offers an array of viewpoints and diverse approaches to de Soto scholarship. Archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, museum curators, and folklorists all contribute to this lively debate on the Spanish explorer and his travels.

The book focuses on research that challenges traditional interpretation of de Soto’s entrada and travel route, particularly after the expedition crossed the Mississippi River. David H. Dye hypothesizes a route across the river and the alluvial plain by linking the narrative accounts with geography and archaeological knowledge. Phyllis A. Morse asserts that the Parkin site is the location of the capital of Casqui, one of the polities visited by de Soto. Charles M. Hudson repostulates his version of the expedition route, which in 1988 severely challenged the De Soto Commission theory of 1939. Ann M. Early redraws the trail in the uplands of the Ouachita Mountains And Frank E. Schambach tests the possibility that the expedition wandered through Caddoan territory in east Texas after de Soto’s death.

Several chapters examine the Native Americans whom de Soto and his expedition encountered in their journey; other contributions provide a fresh look at the chronicles of the expedition that have survived. What emerges is a redrawn map of de Soto’s exploration—and a deeper understanding of the impact of European contact on the New World.


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Figurations of France
Literary Nation-Building in Times of Crisis (1550-1650)
Marcus Keller
University of Delaware Press, 2011

In Figurations of France: Literary Nation-Building in Times of Crisis (1550-1650), Marcus Keller explores the often indirect and subtle ways in which key texts of early modern French literature, from Joachim Du Bellay’s Défense et illustration de la langue française to Corneille’s Le Cid, contribute to the fiction of France as a nation. Through his fresh take on these and other classics, he shows that they not only create the French as an imaginary community but also provide venues for an incisive critique of the political and cultural construct that underpins the modern nation-state.

Current theories of nationhood, in particular the concepts of the nation form and fictive ethnicity (Étienne Balibar), inform the close readings of Du Bellay’s Défense, Ronsard’s Discours, d’Aubigné’s Tragiques, Montaigne’s Essays, Malherbe’s odes, and Corneille’s Le Cid and Horace. They reveal the imaginary power and unifying force of early modern figurations of France that come to bear in this heteregoneous corpus of French literature, with texts ranging from manifesto and epic poem to essay and tragedy. Situating each author and text in their particular historical context, the study suggests that the literary invention of France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is as abundant as it is conceptually innovative: Du Bellay, for example, develops an idea of France by portraying the French language as a pruned and grafted tree while d’Aubigné proposes to think of the French as a nuclear but fatherless family. Blood functions as a highly charged metaphor of nationhood in all texts.

Opening up new perspectives on these canonical works, the focus on literary nation-building also puts them into unexpected and thought-provoking relationships to each other. Figurations of France deliberately crosses the fictive boundary between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries and argues that, in terms of imaginary nation-building, the contours that delineate the early modern period and separate it from what we call the modern era quickly begin to dissolve. Ultimately, the book makes the case for early modern literature as a creative and critical discourse, able to nourish and nuance our thinking about the nation as the postmodern nation-state is increasingly called into question by the economical, political, and cultural effects of globalization.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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The First Asians in the Americas
A Transpacific History
Diego Javier Luis
Harvard University Press, 2023

The definitive account of transpacific Asian movement through the Spanish empire—from Manila to Acapulco and beyond—and its implications for the history of race and colonization in the Americas.

Between 1565 and 1815, the so-called Manila galleons enjoyed a near-complete monopoly on transpacific trade between Spain’s Asian and American colonies. Sailing from the Philippines to Mexico and back, these Spanish trading ships also facilitated the earliest migrations and displacements of Asian peoples to the Americas. Hailing from Gujarat, Nagasaki, and many places in between, both free and enslaved Asians boarded the galleons and made the treacherous transpacific journey each year. Once in Mexico, they became “chinos” within the New Spanish caste system.

Diego Javier Luis chronicles this first sustained wave of Asian mobility to the early Americas. Uncovering how and why Asian peoples crossed the Pacific, he sheds new light on the daily lives of those who disembarked at Acapulco. There, the term “chino” officially racialized diverse ethnolinguistic populations into a single caste, vulnerable to New Spanish policies of colonial control. Yet Asians resisted these strictures, often by forging new connections across ethnic groups. Social adaptation and cultural convergence, Luis argues, defined Asian experiences in the Spanish Americas from the colonial invasions of the sixteenth century to the first cries for Mexican independence in the nineteenth.

The First Asians in the Americas speaks to an important era in the construction of race, vividly unfolding what it meant to be “chino” in the early modern Spanish empire. In so doing, it demonstrates the significance of colonial Latin America to Asian diasporic history and reveals the fundamental role of transpacific connections to the development of colonial societies in the Americas.


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First Impressions
Sefer Hasidim and Early Modern Hebrew Printing
Joseph A. Skloot
Brandeis University Press, 2023
Uncovers the history of creative adaptation and transformation through a close analysis of the creation of the Sefer Hasidim book.
In 1538, a partnership of Jewish silk makers in the city of Bologna published a book entitled Sefer Hasidim, a compendium of rituals, stories, and religious instruction that primarily originated in medieval Franco-Germany. How these men, of Italian and Spanish descent, came to produce a book that would come to shape Ashkenazic culture, and Jewish culture more broadly, over the next four centuries is the basis of this kaleidoscopic study of the history of Hebrew printing in the sixteenth century.
During these early years of printing, the classic works of ancient and medieval Hebrew and Jewish literature became widely available to Jewish (and non-Jewish) readers for the first time. Printing, though, was not merely the duplication and distribution of pre-existing manuscripts, it was the creative adaptation and transformation of those manuscripts by printers. Ranging from Catholic Bologna to Protestant Basel to the Jewish heartland of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Joseph A. Skloot uncovers the history of that creativity by examining the first two print editions of Sefer Hasidim. Along the way, he demonstrates how volumes that were long thought to be eternal and unchanging were in fact artifacts of historical agency and contingency, created by and for human beings.

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Florence in the Forgotten Centuries, 1527-1800
A History of Florence and the Florentines in the Age of the Grand Dukes
Eric Cochrane
University of Chicago Press, 1976
The city of Florence has long been admired as the home of the brilliant artistic and literary achievement of the early Renaissance. But most histories of Florence go no further than the first decades of the sixteenth century. They thus give the impression that Florentine culture suddenly died with the generation of Leonardo, Machiavelli, and Andrea del Sarto.

Eric Cochrane shows that the Florentines maintained their creativity long after they had lost their position as the cultural leaders of Europe. When their political philosophy and historiography ran dry, they turned to the practical problems of civil administration. When their artists finally yielded to outside influence, they turned to music and the natural sciences. Even during the darkest days of the great economic depression of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, they succeeded in preserving—almost alone in Europe—the blessings of external peace and domestic tranquility.

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The Frisian Popular Militias between 1480 and 1560
Hans Mol
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
In the late Middle Ages and early modern times, able-bodied men between sixteen and sixty years of age were called upon all over Europe to participate in raids, sieges and battles, for the defense of home and hearth. Because these men are regarded as amateurs, military historiography has paid little attention to their efforts. This book aims to change that by studying the mobilization, organization and weaponry of popular levies for a time when war was frequently waged between states in the making. Central to the book is the composition and development of the rural and urban militias in Friesland, dissected in a comparative Northwest European perspective, along with an examination of why the self-defense of the Frisians ultimately failed in their efforts to preserve their political autonomy. The main source is an extensive series of muster lists from 1552 that have survived for six cities and fourteen rural districts.

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The Fruit of Liberty
Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550
Nicholas Scott Baker
Harvard University Press, 2013

In the middle decades of the sixteenth century, the republican city-state of Florence--birthplace of the Renaissance--failed. In its place the Medici family created a principality, becoming first dukes of Florence and then grand dukes of Tuscany. The Fruit of Liberty examines how this transition occurred from the perspective of the Florentine patricians who had dominated and controlled the republic. The book analyzes the long, slow social and cultural transformations that predated, accompanied, and facilitated the institutional shift from republic to principality, from citizen to subject.

More than a chronological narrative, this analysis covers a wide range of contributing factors to this transition, from attitudes toward office holding, clothing, and the patronage of artists and architects to notions of self, family, and gender. Using a wide variety of sources including private letters, diaries, and art works, Nicholas Baker explores how the language, images, and values of the republic were reconceptualized to aid the shift from citizen to subject. He argues that the creation of Medici principality did not occur by a radical break with the past but with the adoption and adaptation of the political culture of Renaissance republicanism.


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Games and Theatre in Shakespeare's England
Tom Bishop
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
This collection of essays brings together theories of play and game with theatre and performance to produce new understandings of the history and design of early modern English drama. Through literary analysis and embodied practice, an international team of distinguished scholars examines a wide range of games—from dicing to bowling to roleplaying to videogames—to uncover their fascinating ramifications for the stage in Shakespeare’s era and our own. Foregrounding ludic elements challenges the traditional view of drama as principally mimesis, or imitation, revealing stageplays to be improvisational experiments and participatory explorations into the motive, means, and value of recreation. Delving into both canonical masterpieces and hidden gems, this innovative volume stakes a claim for play as the crucial link between games and early modern theatre, and for the early modern theatre as a critical site for unraveling the continued cultural significance and performative efficacy of gameplay today.

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Giambattista Marino
Thomas E. Mussio
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2019
This is the first complete translation in English of Giambattista Marino’s Adone, a poem of 20 cantos written in Italian and first published in 1623 in Paris. Although Marino’s work has been characterized as a mythological poem with the tragic tale of Venus and Adonis at its core and woven through with retellings of many Greek and Roman myths, it is clear that Marino strove to write more than an Italian version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The highly wrought descriptive passages that permeate the poem, the allusions to contemporary political figures and events, and the rich scientific, philosophical, and theological language of many passages reflect Marino’s particular poetic style, his broad interests, and his engagement with the political and intellectual scene of early seventeenth-century Europe. One of the goals of this translation is to provide a highly accessible version of the whole poem and to expand its readership to include not only students and scholars of the romance epic and the early modern period but also curious general readers. It is hoped that this modern, annotated translation will spur new research on Marino’s poem and bear new assessments of the poem’s relation to its sources, of its influence on later literature, and of its vital connection with key issues of Marino’s time, such as scientific advancement, discovery and exploration, and the power and influence of the Catholic Church.

Translated, with introduction and notes by Thomas E. Mussio.

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The Golden Dream
Seekers Of El Dorado
Robert Silverberg
Ohio University Press, 1996

One of the most persistent legends in the annals of New World exploration is that of the Land of Gold. This mythical site was located over vast areas of South America (and later, North America); the search for it drove some men mad with greed and, as often as not, to their untimely deaths.

In this history of quest and adventure, Robert Silverberg traces the fate of Old World explorers lured westward by the myth of El Dorado. From the German conquistadores licensed by the Spanish king to operate out of Venezuela, to the journeys of Gonzalo Pizarro in the Amazon basin, and to the nearly miraculous voyage of Francisco Orellana to the mouth of the Amazon River, encountering the warlike women who gave the river its name, violence and bloodshed accompanied the determined adventurers. Sir Walter Raleigh and a host of other explorers spent small fortunes and many lives trying to locate Manoa, a city that was rumored to be El Dorado—City of Gold. Celebrated science fiction author Robert Silverberg recreates these legendary quests in The Golden Dream: Seekers of El Dorado.


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The Great Siege of Malta
The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John
Bruce Ware Allen
University Press of New England, 2017
In the spring of 1565, a massive fleet of Ottoman ships descended on Malta, a small island centrally located between North Africa and Sicily, home and headquarters of the crusading Knights of St. John and their charismatic Grand Master, Jean de Valette. The Knights had been expelled from Rhodes by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, and now stood as the last bastion against a Muslim invasion of Sicily, southern Italy, and beyond. The siege force of Turks, Arabs, and Barbary corsairs from across the Muslim world outnumbered the defenders of Malta many times over, and its arrival began a long hot summer of bloody combat, often hand to hand, embroiling knights and mercenaries, civilians and slaves, in a desperate struggle for this pivotal point in the Mediterranean. Bruce Ware Allen's The Great Siege of Malta describes the siege’s geopolitical context, explains its strategies and tactics, and reveals how the all-too-human personalities of both Muslim and Christian leaders shaped the course of events. The siege of Malta was the Ottoman empire’s high-water mark in the war between the Christian West and the Muslim East for control of the Mediterranean. Drawing on copious research and new source material, Allen stirringly recreates the two factions’ heroism and chivalry, while simultaneously tracing the barbarism, severity, and indifference to suffering of sixteenth-century warfare. The Great Siege of Malta is a fresh, vivid retelling of one of the most famous battles of the early modern world—a battle whose echoes are still felt today.

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Mary Elizabeth Berry
Harvard University Press, 1982

Here is the first full-length biography in English of the most important political figure in premodern Japan.

Hideyoshi—peasant turned general, military genius, and imperial regent of Japan—is the subject of an immense legendary literature. He is best known for the conquest of Japan’s sixteenth-century warlords and the invasion of Korea. He is known, too, as an extravagant showman who rebuilt cities, erected a colossal statue of the Buddha, and entertained thousands of guests at tea parties. But his lasting contribution is as governor whose policies shaped the course of Japanese politics for almost three hundred years.

In Japan’s first experiment with federal rule, Hideyoshi successfully unified two hundred local domains under a central authority. Mary Elizabeth Berry explores the motives and forms of this new federalism which would survive in Japan until the mid-nineteenth century, as well as the philosophical question it raised: What is the proper role of government? This book reflects upon both the shifting political consciousness of the late sixteenth century and the legitimation rituals that were invoked to place change in a traditional context. It also reflects upon the architect of that change—a troubled parvenu who acted often with moderation and sometimes with explosive brutality.


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Historiae Britannicae Defensio / A Defence of the British History
John Prise
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015

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The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The eighth and final volume spans the thirty-ninth to fiftieth years of Akbar’s reign, detailing the conquest of Ahmadnagar, Prince Salim’s rebellion, and the emperor’s final days.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The seventh volume details the twenty-ninth to thirty-eighth years of Akbar’s reign, including accounts of the marriage of his son and heir Salim (Jahangir); conquests of Swat, Orissa, Kashmir, Sind, and the Saurashtra Peninsula; the pacification of Bengal; and the emperor’s visits to Kashmir, the Punjab, and Kabul.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The sixth volume details the twenty-third to twenty-eighth years of Akbar’s reign, including accounts of the quelling of rebellions in Bihar, Bengal, and Kabul, and final victory in Gujarat.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The fifth volume details the bellicose seventeenth to twenty-second years of Akbar’s reign, including accounts of the conquest of Gujarat, the capture of Rohtas fort from rebel Afghans, and the invasions of Patna and Bengal.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The fourth volume narrates the second eight years of Akbar’s reign, including an account of his visit to Ajmer, the arrival of an embassy from the Safavid court, and the beginning of the author’s brother Faizi’s career as court poet.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The third volume details the first eight years of Akbar’s reign, when he consolidated his power, quelled the rebellion of his guardian Bayram Khan, conquered Malwa, and married a Rajput princess.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians across the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The second volume details the turbulent reign of his father Humayun, his years in exile, his return to power, and his untimely death that brought Akbar to the throne as a youth.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


logo for Harvard University Press
The History of Akbar
Harvard University Press, 2014

The exemplar of Indo-Persian history, at once a biography of Emperor Akbar and a chronicle of sixteenth-century Mughal India.

Akbarnāma, or The History of Akbar, by Abu’l-Fazl (d. 1602), is one of the most important works of Indo-Persian history and a touchstone of prose artistry. Marking a high point in a long, rich tradition of Persian historical writing, it served as a model for historians throughout the Persianate world. The work is at once a biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) that includes descriptions of his political and martial feats and cultural achievements, and a chronicle of sixteenth-century India.

The first volume details the birth of Akbar, his illustrious genealogy, and in particular the lives and exploits of his grandfather, Babur, and his father, Humayun, who laid the foundations of the Mughal Empire.

The Persian text, presented in the Naskh script, is based on a careful reassessment of the primary sources.


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The Huguenot Experience of Persecution and Exile
Three Women’s Stories
Charlotte Arbaleste Duplessis-Mornay, Anne de Chaufepié, and Anne Marguerite Petit Du Noyer
Iter Press, 2019
This volume provides an English translation of firsthand testimonies by three early modern French women. It illustrates the Huguenot experience of persecution and exile during the bloodiest times in the history of Protestantism: the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the dragonnades, and the Huguenot exodus following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The selections given here feature these women’s experiences of escape, the effects of religious strife on their families, and their reliance on other women amid the terrors of war.

Edited by Colette H. Winn. Translated by Lauren King and Colette H. Winn
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, Vol. 68

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The Hustynja Chronicle
Oleksiy Tolochko
Harvard University Press, 2013

Written in the early seventeenth century, the Hustynja Chronicle represents the first attempt of early modern chroniclers to write a systematic history of Ukraine. The chronological sweep of the text is ambitious, describing the history of Kyivan Rus´ and Ukraine from biblical times until the Union of Brest in 1596. The text covers many critical periods in Ukrainian history, including pre-Mongol Rus´, the expansion of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the emergence of the Cossacks. Its unique style blends the older tradition of presenting information under yearly entries with a newer, more narrative style of chronicle modeled on the works of Polish chroniclers such as Stryjkowski and Bielski.

This publication marks the first time that the Hustynja Chronicle has appeared in a scholarly edition. One copy originally found in the Mharsk Monastery serves as the exemplar for the main text and is accompanied by notes representing variants from six other copies of the text. An introduction by Ukrainian historian Dr. Oleksiy Tolochko, in both the original Ukrainian and English translation, provides a detailed description and history of the chronicle. The Hustynja Chronicle is an essential source for scholars interested in medieval and early-modern Ukrainian history, philology, and chronicle writing.


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Imperial Geographies in Byzantine and Ottoman Space
Sahar Bazzaz
Harvard University Press, 2012
Imperial Geographies in Byzantine and Ottoman Space opens new and insightful vistas on the nexus between empire and geography. The volume redirects attention from the Atlantic to the space of the eastern Mediterranean shaped by two empires of remarkable duration and territorial extent, the Byzantine and the Ottoman. The essays offer a diachronic and comparative account that spans the medieval and early modern periods and reaches into the nineteenth century. Methodologically rich, the essays combine historical, literary, and theoretical perspectives. Through texts as diverse as court records and chancery manuals, imperial treatises and fictional works, travel literature and theatrical adaptations, the essays explore ways in which the production of geographical knowledge supported imperial authority or revealed its precarious mastery of geography.

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The Indian Militia and Description of the Indies
Captain Bernardo de Vargas Machuca, Edited with an introduction by Kris Lane
Duke University Press, 2008
Sometimes referred to as the first published manual of guerrilla warfare, Bernardo de Vargas Machuca’s Indian Militia and Description of the Indies is actually the first known manual of counterinsurgency, or anti-guerrilla warfare. Published in Madrid in 1599 by a Spanish-born soldier of fortune with long experience in the Americas, the book is a training manual for conquistadors. The Aztec and Inca Empires had long since fallen by 1599, but Vargas Machuca argued that many more Native American peoples remained to be conquered and converted to Roman Catholicism. What makes his often shrill and self-righteous treatise surprising is his consistent praise of indigenous resistance techniques and medicinal practices.

Containing advice on curing rattlesnake bites with amethysts and making saltpeter for gunpowder from concentrated human urine, The Indian Militia is a manual in four parts, the first of which outlines the ideal qualities of the militia commander. Addressing the organization and outfitting of conquest expeditions, Book Two includes extended discussions of arms and medicine. Book Three covers the proper behavior of soldiers, providing advice on marching through peaceful and bellicose territories, crossing rivers, bivouacking in foul weather, and carrying out night raids and ambushes. Book Four deals with peacemaking, town-founding, and the proper treatment of conquered peoples. Appended to these four sections is a brief geographical description of all of Spanish America, with special emphasis on the indigenous peoples of New Granada (roughly modern-day Colombia), followed by a short guide to the southern coasts and heavens. This first English-language edition of The Indian Militia includes an extensive introduction, a posthumous report on Vargas Machuca’s military service, and a selection from his unpublished attack on the writings of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas.


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The Inner Sea
Maritime Literary Culture in Early Modern Portugal
Josiah Blackmore
University of Chicago Press, 2022
An expansive consideration of how nautical themes influenced literature in early modern Portugal.
In this book, Josiah Blackmore considers how the sea and seafaring shaped literary creativity in early modern Portugal during the most active, consequential decades of European overseas expansion. Blackmore understands “literary” in a broad sense, including a diverse archive spanning genres and disciplines—epic and lyric poetry, historical chronicles, nautical documents, ship logs, shipwreck narratives, geographic descriptions, and reference to texts of other seafaring powers and literatures of the period—centering on the great Luís de Camões, arguably the sea poet par excellence of early modern Europe.
Blackmore shows that the sea and nautical travel for Camões and his contemporaries were not merely historical realities; they were also principles of cultural creativity that connected to larger debates in the widening field of the maritime humanities. For Blackmore, the sea, ships, and nautical travel unfold into a variety of symbolic dimensions, and the oceans across the globe that were traversed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries correspond to vast reaches within the literary self. The sea and seafaring were not merely themes in textual culture but were also principles that created individual and collective subjects according to oceanic modes of perception. Blackmore concludes with a discussion of depth and sinking in shipwreck narratives as metaphoric and discursive dimensions of the maritime subject, foreshadowing empire’s decline.

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Jesuit Letters From China, 1583-84
M. Howard Rienstra, EditorTranslated by M. Howard Rienstra
University of Minnesota Press, 1986

Jesuit Letters From China, 1583–84 was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The first eight letters from Jesuit missionaries on mainland China were written in 1583–84 and published in Europe in 1586. M Howard Rienstra's translated marks their first appearance in English. The letters chronicle the patient efforts of Michele Ruggieri and the famed Matteo Ricci to learn Chinese, to gain acceptance in Chinese society, and to explain Christianity to a highly sophisticated non-Christian culture. They also described the China of the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644), a country whose immense size and population had excited the imagination of Europeans for generations.

It was Francis Xavier's dream that this mighty kingdom and civilization be opened to the Christian gospel. His dream was at least tentatively fulfilled when Michele Ruggieri was granted residence first in Canton and then in Chao-ch'ing in 1583. Accompanied first by Francesco Pasio and later by Matteo Ricci, Ruggieri initiated the Christian mission in China. Their letters, published initially as an appendix to a volume of Jesuit letters from Japan, were abbreviated and censored by their European editor. In edited form, the letters appeared in 1586 in one French, on German, and three Italian editions.

The China of Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci had remained, however, both suspicious of, and closed to, foreigners - a fact which the original letters do not gloss over. Rienstra was carefully compared the abbreviated and censored versions of these letters in their originals, still preserved in the Jesuit archives in Rome. The letters in general indicate how tenuous the Jesuits' situation was and note candidly that only two baptisms had been performed on the mainland during their stay. These results stand in marked contracts to the reports from Japan of tens of thousands of baptisms and to the reports from Portuguese Macao, where Chinese converts were compelled to wear European cloths and to take European names.

Such Europeanization was thought to be inappropriate to a successful Christian mission in China. Though criticized at the time by their colleagues in Macao, Ruggieri, Pasio, and Ricci committed themselves to a program of cultural respect and accommodation. They learned both written and spoken Chinese, ingratiated themselves with the ruling classes by exhibiting their learning and courtesy, and appeared to have become Chinese themselves. When Matteo Ricci became Ruggieri's successor and his name became synonymous with the success of the Jesuit mission in China, it was to these methods that its success was owed. Unfortunately, the prevailing European ethnocentrism could not accept the concept of cultural accommodation. The editors thus censored the letters to convey the impression of a triumphant and culturally superior Christian mission in China.

Jesuit Letters From China is a publication of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.


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John Leland
De uiris illustribus / On Famous Men
John Leland
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2010

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Journey to the East
The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724
Liam Matthew Brockey
Harvard University Press, 2008

It was one of the great encounters of world history: highly educated European priests confronting Chinese culture for the first time in the modern era. This “journey to the East” is explored by Liam Brockey as he retraces the path of the Jesuit missionaries who sailed from Portugal to China, believing that, with little more than firm conviction and divine assistance, they could convert the Chinese to Christianity. Moving beyond the image of Jesuits as cultural emissaries, his book shows how these priests, in the first concerted European effort to engage with Chinese language and thought, translated Roman Catholicism into the Chinese cultural frame and eventually claimed two hundred thousand converts.

The first narrative history of the Jesuits’ mission from 1579 until the proscription of Christianity in China in 1724, this study is also the first to use extensive documentation of the enterprise found in Lisbon and Rome. The peril of travel in the premodern world, the danger of entering a foreign land alone and unarmed, and the challenge of understanding a radically different culture result in episodes of high drama set against such backdrops as the imperial court of Peking, the villages of Shanxi Province, and the bustling cities of the Yangzi Delta region. Further scenes show how the Jesuits claimed conversions and molded their Christian communities into outposts of Baroque Catholicism in the vastness of China. In the retelling, this story reaches across continents and centuries to reveal the deep political, cultural, scientific, linguistic, and religious complexities of a true early engagement between East and West.


front cover of The Librarian's Atlas
The Librarian's Atlas
The Shape of Knowledge in Early Modern Spain
Seth Kimmel
University of Chicago Press, 2024
A history of early modern libraries and the imperial desire for total knowledge.
Medieval scholars imagined the library as a microcosm of the world, but as novel early modern ways of managing information facilitated empire in both the New and Old Worlds, the world became a projection of the library. In The Librarian’s Atlas, Seth Kimmel offers a sweeping material history of how the desire to catalog books coincided in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the aspiration to control territory. Through a careful study of library culture in Spain and Morocco—close readings of catalogs, marginalia, indexes, commentaries, and maps—Kimmel reveals how the booklover’s dream of a comprehensive and well-organized library shaped an expanded sense of the world itself.

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The Longest Voyage
Circumnavigators in the Age of Discovery
Robert Silverberg
Ohio University Press, 1997

From the intense and brooding Magellan and the glamorous and dashing Sir Francis Drake; to Thomas Cavendish, who set off to plunder Spain’s American gold and the Dutch circumnavigators, whose numbers included pirates as well as explorers and merchants,  Robert Silverberg  captures the adventures and seafaring exploits of a bygone era.

Over the course of a century, European circumnavigators in small ships charted the coast of the New World and explored the Pacific Ocean. Characterized by fierce nationalism, competitiveness, and bloodshed, The Longest Voyage: Circumnavigators in the Age of Discovery  captures the drama, danger, and personalities in the colorful story of the first voyages around the world. These accounts begin with Magellan’s unprecedented 1519–22 circumnavigation, providing an immediate, exciting, and intimate glimpse into that historic venture. The story includes frequent threats of mutiny; the nearly unendurable extremes of heat, cold, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; the fear, tedium, and moments of despair; the discoveries of exotic new peoples and strange new lands; and, finally, Magellan’s own dramatic death during a fanatical attempt to convert native Philippine islanders to Christianity.

Capturing the total context of political climate and historical change that made the Age of Discovery one of excitement and drama, Silverberg brings a motley crew of early ocean explorers vividly to life.


front cover of The Margins of Late Medieval London, 1430–1540
The Margins of Late Medieval London, 1430–1540
Charlotte Berry
University of London Press, 2022
A powerful study of medieval London’s urban fringe.

The Margins of Late Medieval London seeks to unpack the complexity of urban life in the medieval age, offering a detailed and novel approach to understanding London beyond its grand institutions and social bodies. Using a combination of experimental digital, quantitative, and qualitative methodologies, the volume casts new light on urban life at the level of the neighborhood and considers the differences in economy, society, and sociability which existed in different areas of a vibrant premodern city. This book focuses on the dynamism and mobility that shaped city life, integrating the experiences of London’s poor and migrant communities and how they found their place within urban life. It describes how people found themselves marginalized in the city, and the strategies they would employ to mitigate that precarious position.

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Maritime Musicians and Performers on Early Modern English Voyages
The Lives of the Seafaring Middle Class
James Seth
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
Maritime Musicians and Performers on Early Modern English Voyages aims to tell the full story of early English shipboard performers, who have been historically absent from conversations about English navigation, maritime culture, and economic expansion. Often described reductively in voyaging accounts as having one function, in fact maritime performers served many communicative tasks. Their lives were not only complex, but often contradictory. Though not high-ranking officers, neither were they lower-ranking mariners or sailors. They were influenced by a range of competing cultural practices, having spent time playing on both land and sea, and their roles required them to mediate parties using music, dance, and theatre as powerful forms of nonverbal communication. Their performances transcended and breached boundaries of language, rank, race, religion, and nationality, thereby upsetting conventional practices, improving shipboard and international relations, and ensuring the success of their voyages.

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Missionary Men in the Early Modern World
German Jesuits and Pacific Journeys
Ulrike Strasser
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
How did gender shape the expanding Jesuit enterprise in the early modern world? What did it take to become a missionary man? And how did missionary masculinity align itself with the European colonial project? This book highlights the central importance of male affective ties and masculine mimesis in the formation of the Jesuit missions, as well as the significance of patriarchal dynamics. Focussing on previously neglected German figures, Strasser shows how stories of exemplary male behavior circulated across national boundaries, directing the hearts and feet of men throughout Europe towards Jesuit missions in faraway lands. The sixteenth-century Iberian exemplars of Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, disseminated in print and visual media, inspired late seventeenth-century Jesuits from German-speaking lands to bring Catholicism and European gender norms to the Spanish-controlled Pacific. As Strasser demonstrates, the age of global missions hinged on the reproduction of missionary manhood in print and real life.

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Mother Juana de la Cruz, 1481–1534
Visionary Sermons
Juana de la Cruz
Iter Press, 2016

Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534) is a unique figure in the history of the Catholic Church, thanks to her public visionary experiences during which she lost consciousness, while a deep voice, identifying itself as Christ, issued from her, narrating the feasts and pageants taking place in heaven. Juana’s so called “sermons,” collected in a manuscript called Libro del Conorte, form a fascinating window into Castilian religiosity in the early sixteenth century. There is much to reap from these sermons concerning Spanish Renaissance culture, theology, mysticism, gender roles, and interreligious interactions.


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Mughal Arcadia
Persian Literature in an Indian Court
Sunil Sharma
Harvard University Press, 2017

At its height in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Mughal Empire was one of the largest empires in Eurasia, with territory extending over most of the Indian subcontinent and much of present-day Afghanistan. As part of the Persianate world that spanned from the Bosphorus to the Bay of Bengal, Mughal rulers were legendary connoisseurs of the arts. Their patronage attracted poets, artists, and scholars from all parts of the eastern Islamic world. Persian was the language of the court, and poets from Safavid Iran played a significant role in the cultural life of the nobility. Mughal Arcadia explores the rise and decline of Persian court poetry in India and the invention of an enduring idea—found in poetry, prose, paintings, and architecture—of a literary paradise, a Persian garden located outside Iran, which was perfectly exemplified by the valley of Kashmir.

Poets and artists from Iran moved freely throughout the Mughal empire and encountered a variety of cultures and landscapes that inspired aesthetic experiments which continue to inspire the visual arts, poetry, films, and music in contemporary South Asia. Sunil Sharma takes readers on a dazzling literary journey over a vast geographic terrain and across two centuries, from the accession of the first emperor, Babur, to the throne of Hindustan to the reign of the sixth great Mughal, Aurangzeb, in order to illuminate the life of Persian poetry in India. Along the way, we are offered a rare glimpse into the social and cultural life of the Mughals.


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The Nahua
Language and Culture from the 16th Century to the Present
Galen Brokaw
University Press of Colorado, 2024
Revealing the resiliency of Nahua culture and language while highlighting the adaptations and changes they have undergone over the centuries, The Nahua demonstrates that Nahuatl remained a vibrant and central language well after European contact and into the twenty-first century, and its characteristic features can provide insight into nuanced aspects of Nahua culture and history.
During the colonial period, Nahuatl became a means of empowerment, oppression, and indoctrination. In modern times, Nahuatl continues to serve as an ideological lightning rod for both the Mexican government and Indigenous communities. Contributors to this volume focus on Nahua intellectual production from the sixteenth century to the present; contact and the negotiation of meaning; adaptations of Christian lore that show how representations of creation, hell, and the Passion of Christ reflected Nahua perceptions and understandings; Nahua cultural expressions, including poetry, healing rituals, and even running; language and geography; Nahuatl place-names; and the transformation of Nahuatl speakers from antiquity to the present.
Showcasing how Nahuatl’s cultural resilience permanently shaped the region’s social geography, The Nahua engages the field’s interest in the nonhomogenous character of the language, with regional and subregional dialects and pronunciations that reflect the history of pre-Columbian migrations and modern-era influences. Bridging the study of Nahuatl as a “historical” Indigenous language tradition with the study of modern-day speakers and their experiences, this work is of significance to students, scholars, and speakers of the languages as well as those studying colonial New Spain, Indigenous resilience, or Indigenous linguistics.

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Navigating Reformed Identity in the Rural Dutch Republic
Communities, Belief, and Piety
Kyle Dieleman
Amsterdam University Press, 2023
Through an examination of Dutch Reformed church records and theological texts, Kyle Dieleman explores the local dynamics of religious life in the early modern Dutch Republic. The book argues that within the religiously plural setting of the Dutch Republic church officials used a variety of means to establish a Reformed identity in their communities. As such, the book explores the topics of church orders, elders and deacons, intra-confessional and inter-confessional conflicts, and Sabbath observance as local means by which small, rural communities negotiated and experienced their religious lives. In exploring rural Dutch Reformed congregations, the book examines the complicated relationships between theology and practice and ‘lay’ and ‘elite’ religion and highlights challenges rural churches faced. As they faced these issues, Dieleman demonstrates that local congregations exercised agency within their lived religious experiences as they sought unique ways to navigate their own Reformed identity within their small, rural communities.

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Neither Hee Nor Any of His Companie Did Return Againe
Failed Colonies in the Caribbean and Latin America, 1492–1865
David MacDonald
Westholme Publishing, 2023
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries European powers vied for control of the land and resources in the Caribbean and Latin America. Colonies made Spain rich through gold, silver, and gems looted from the Native cultures, along with rare and exotic goods such as tobacco, sugar, and dyewood, and even humble products such as hides. In rapid turn, other European monarchies and merchants sent out colonizing expeditions to the region to exploit the resources of the New World, but creating permanent footholds was perilous. All European settlements founded in the New World faced a variety of challenges, including food supply, inconsistent support from Europe, leadership, ignorance of the area colonized, irrational expectations, religious discord, relations with Native peoples, and violent national rivalries. Colonies that succeeded and those that failed faced the same challenges, although in differing degrees and circumstances. The margin between survival and disaster was always small—there were few chances to succeed and the risk of failure was never far away. 
   In Neither Hee Nor Any of His Companie Did Return Againe: Failed Colonies in the Caribbean and Latin America, 1492–1865, historians David MacDonald and Raine Waters examine the European, and later American, failures to establish permanent settlements in the region. Beginning with Columbus’s ill-conceived ventures, the authors discuss the efforts, from German claims in Venezuela and Scottish attempts in Panama to defeated Confederates fleeing to Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere. For each colony, the primary source information is contextualized and evaluated. Along the way, the authors determine commonalities across these ill-fated colonies as well as underscore the fact that while Indigenous peoples of the region often vigorously resisted predatory European colonization, their numbers were decimated by relentless warfare, slave raids, and European diseases. As Indian populations declined, colonists imported African slaves in large numbers. The brutal treatment of slaves resulted in those who escaped creating their own settlements that existed in a state of endemic warfare with European colonists. An important contribution to Atlantic World studies, this volume reveals the fine line between colonies that thrived and those that failed.

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A New Science
The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason
Guy G. Stroumsa
Harvard University Press, 2010
We see the word “religion” everywhere, yet do we understand what it means, and is there a consistent worldwide understanding? Who discovered religion and in what context? In A New Science, Guy Stroumsa offers an innovative and powerful argument that the comparative study of religion finds its origin in early modern Europe. The world in which this new category emerged was marked by three major historical and intellectual phenomena: the rise of European empires, that gave birth to ethnological curiosity; the Reformation, which permanently altered Christianity; and the invention of philology, a discipline that transformed Western intellectual thought. Against this complex historical backdrop, Stroumsa guides us through the lives and writings of the men who came to define the word “religion.” As Stroumsa boldly argues, the modern study of religion, a new science, was made possible through a dialectical process between Catholic and Protestant scholars. Ancient Israelite religion, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeanism, Zoroastrianism, the sacred beliefs of the New World, and those of Greece, Rome, India, and China, composed the complex ground upon which “religion,” a most modern category, was discovered.

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Objects of Liberty
British Women Writers and Revolutionary Souvenirs
Pamela Buck
University of Delaware Press, 2024
Objects of Liberty explores the prevalence of souvenirs in British women’s writing during the French Revolution and Napoleonic era. It argues that women writers employed the material and memorial object of the souvenir to circulate revolutionary ideas and engage in the masculine realm of political debate. While souvenir collecting was a standard practice of privileged men on the eighteenth-century Grand Tour, women began to partake in this endeavor as political events in France heightened interest in travel to the Continent. Looking at travel accounts by Helen Maria Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine and Martha Wilmot, Charlotte Eaton, and Mary Shelley, this study reveals how they used souvenirs to affect political thought in Britain and contribute to conversations about individual and national identity. At a time when gendered beliefs precluded women from full citizenship, they used souvenirs to redefine themselves as legitimate political actors. Objects of Liberty is a story about the ways that women established political power and agency through material culture.


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Order, Materiality, and Urban Space in the Early Modern Kingdom of Sweden
Riitta Laitinen
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
Our corporeality and immersion in the material world make us inherently spatial beings, and the fact that we all share everyday experiences in the global physical environment means that community is also spatial by nature. This book explores the relationship between the seventeenth-century townspeople of Turku, Sweden, and their urban surroundings. Riitta Laitinen offers a novel account of civil and social order in this early modern town, highlighting the central importance of materiality and spatiality and breaking down the dichotomy of public versus private life that has dominated traditional studies of the time period.

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The Philosopher's Toothache
Embodied Stoicism in Early Modern English Drama
Donovan Sherman
Northwestern University Press, 2022
The Philosopher’s Toothache proposes that early modern Stoicism constituted a radical mode of performance. Stoicism—with its focus on bodily sensation, imagined spectatorship, and daily mental and physical exercise—exists as what the philosopher Pierre Hadot calls a “way of life,” a set of habits and practices. To be a Stoic is not to espouse doctrine but to act.

Informed by work in both classical philosophy and performance studies, Donovan Sherman argues that Stoicism infused the complex theatrical culture of early modern England. Plays written and performed during this period gave life to Stoic exercises that instructed audiences to cultivate their virtue, self-awareness, and creativity. By foregrounding Stoicism’s embodied nature, Sherman recovers a vital dimension too often lost in reductive portrayals of the Stoics by early modern writers and contemporary scholars alike. The Philosopher’s Toothache features readings of dramatic works by William Shakespeare, Cyril Tourneur, and John Marston alongside considerations of early modern adaptations of classical Stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius) and Neo-Stoics such as Justus Lipsius. These plays model Stoic virtues like unpredictability, indifference, vulnerability, and dependence—attributes often framed as negative but that can also rekindle a sense of responsible public action.

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The Pleasant Nights
Giovan Straparola
Iter Press, 2015

In Giovan Francesco Straparola’s The Pleasant Nights, a group of men and women gather together in a villa on the Venetian island of Murano during Carnival to sing songs, tell tales, and solve riddles. A sixteenth-century bestseller, The Pleasant Nights is today a fundamental text for European folk and fairy tale studies, for alongside triumphal and tragic love stories, comical tales of practical jokes, and accounts of witty retorts, Straparola (1480? – 1557?) placed some of the first fairy tales printed in Europe. Straparola’s eloquent female narrators and the fairy tales they recount became a model for a generation of French women writers in Parisian salons, who used the fairy tale to interrogate the gender norms of their day. This book presents the first new and complete English translation of Straparola’s tales and riddles to be published since the nineteenth century.


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Pope Paul III and the Cultural Politics of Reform
Bryan Cussen
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
When Paul III was elected in 1534, hopes arose across Christendom that this pope would at last reform and reunite the Church. During his fifteen-year reign, though, Paul's engagement with reform was complex and contentious. A work of cultural history, this book explores how cultural narratives of honour and tradition, including how honour played out in politics, significantly constrained Pope Paul and his chosen reformers in framing strategies for change. Indeed, the reformers' programme would have undermined the culture of honour and weakened Rome's capacity to ward off current threats of invasion. The study makes a provocative case that Paul called the Council of Trent to contain reform rather than promote it. Nevertheless, Paul and the Council did sow seeds of reform that eventually became central to the Counter-Reformation. This book thus sheds new light on a pope whose relationship to reform has long been regarded as an enigma.

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Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and the Gift Book Exchange
Valerie Schutte
Arc Humanities Press, 2021
This is the first book to offer a comparison of these two famous Tudor queens as princesses, suggesting that their early lives need to be more closely examined together. It offers a detailed case study of the four extant dedications that Elizabeth Tudor wrote to accompany manuscript translations that she gave to Henry VIII, his then wife, Katherine Parr, and to Elizabeth's brother Edward (VI of England) as New Year’s gifts from 1545 to 1548. Additionally, it seeks to compare Elizabeth with her sister Mary, beginning with pre-accession dedications given to each of them, exploring two of Mary's own translations, moving to their typical patterns of New Year's gift giving, and ending on the textual transmission of their translations that were later published in 1548. It argues that Elizabeth’s dedications to her family, while participating in the tradition of giving books, were unique and in the dedications she intended not only to represent her loyalty but also to stabilize her position within the royal family.

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The Pulpit and the Press in Reformation Italy
Emily Michelson
Harvard University Press, 2013

Italian preachers during the Reformation era found themselves in the trenches of a more desperate war than anything they had ever imagined. This war—the splintering of western Christendom into conflicting sects—was physically but also spiritually violent. In an era of tremendous religious convolution, fluidity, and danger, preachers of all kinds spoke from the pulpit daily, weekly, or seasonally to confront the hottest controversies of their time. Preachers also turned to the printing press in unprecedented numbers to spread their messages.

Emily Michelson challenges the stereotype that Protestants succeeded in converting Catholics through superior preaching and printing. Catholic preachers were not simply reactionary and uncreative mouthpieces of a monolithic church. Rather, they deftly and imaginatively grappled with the question of how to preserve the orthodoxy of their flock and maintain the authority of the Roman church while also confronting new, undeniable lay demands for inclusion and participation.

These sermons—almost unknown in English until now—tell a new story of the Reformation that credits preachers with keeping Italy Catholic when the region’s religious future seemed uncertain, and with fashioning the post-Reformation Catholicism that thrived into the modern era. By deploying the pulpit, pen, and printing press, preachers in Italy created a new religious culture that would survive in an unprecedented atmosphere of competition and religious choice.


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Race and Romance
Coloring the Past
Margo Hendricks
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2021
This study brings race and the literary tradition of romance into dialogue.

Race and Romance: Coloring the Past explores the literary and cultural genealogy of colorism, white passing, and white presenting in the romance genre. The scope of the study ranges from Heliodorus’ Aithiopika to the short novels of Aphra Behn, to the modern romance novel Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. This analysis engages with the troublesome racecraft of “passing” and the instability of racial identity and its formation from the premodern to the present. The study also looks at the significance of white settler colonialism to early modern romance narratives. A bridge between studies of early modern romance and scholarship on twenty-first-century romance novels, this book is well-suited for those interested in the romance genre.

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Retelling the Siege of Jerusalem in Early Modern England
Vanita Neelakanta
University of Delaware Press, 2019
This compelling book explores sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English retellings of the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the way they informed and were informed by religious and political developments. The siege featured prominently in many early modern English sermons, ballads, plays, histories, and pamphlets, functioning as a touchstone for writers who sought to locate their own national drama of civil and religious tumult within a larger biblical and post-biblical context. Reformed England identified with besieged Jerusalem, establishing an equivalency between the Protestant church and the ancient Jewish nation but exposing fears that a displeased God could destroy his beloved nation. As print culture grew, secular interpretations of the siege ran alongside once-dominant providentialist narratives and spoke to the political anxieties in England as it was beginning to fashion a conception of itself as a nation.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence
Alison Brown
Harvard University Press, 2010

In this first comprehensive study of the effect of Lucretius's De rerum natura on Florentine thought in the Renaissance, Alison Brown demonstrates how Lucretius was used by Florentine thinkers—earlier and more widely than has been supposed—to provide a radical critique of prevailing orthodoxies.

To answer the question of why ordinary Florentines were drawn to this recently discovered text, despite its threat to orthodox Christian belief, Brown tracks interest in it through three humanists—the most famous of whom was Machiavelli—all working not as philologists but as practical administrators and teachers in the Florentine chancery and university. Interpreting their direct use of Lucretius within the context of mercantile Florence, Brown highlights three dangerous themes that had particular appeal: Lucretius's attack on superstitious religion and an afterlife; his pre-Darwinian theory of evolution; and his atomism, with its theory of free will and the chance creation of the world.

The humanists' challenge to established beliefs encouraged the growth of a "Lucretian network" of younger, politically disaffected Florentines. Brown thus adds a missing dimension to our understanding of the "revolution" in sixteenth-century political thinking, as she enriches our definition of the Renaissance in a context of newly discovered worlds and new social networks.


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The Return of Martin Guerre
Natalie Zemon Davis
Harvard University Press, 1983

The clever peasant Arnaud du Tilh had almost persuaded the learned judges at the Parlement of Toulouse when, on a summer’s day in 1560, a man swaggered into the court on a wooden leg, denounced Arnaud, and reestablished his claim to the identity, property, and wife of Martin Guerre. The astonishing case captured the imagination of the continent. Told and retold over the centuries, the story of Martin Guerre became a legend, still remembered in the Pyrenean village where the impostor was executed more than 400 years ago.

Now a noted historian, who served as consultant for a new French film on Martin Guerre, has searched archives and lawbooks to add new dimensions to a tale already abundant in mysteries: we are led to ponder how a common man could become an impostor in the sixteenth century, why Bertrande de Rols, an honorable peasant woman, would accept such a man as her husband, and why lawyers, poets, and men of letters like Montaigne became so fascinated with the episode.

Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the lives of ordinary people, in a sparkling way that reveals the hidden attachments and sensibilities of nonliterate sixteenth-century villagers. Here we see men and women trying to fashion their identities within a world of traditional ideas about property and family and of changing ideas about religion. We learn what happens when common people get involved in the workings of the criminal courts in the ancien régime, and how judges struggle to decide who a man was in the days before fingerprints and photographs. We sense the secret affinity between the eloquent men of law and the honey-tongued village impostor, a rare identification across class lines.

Deftly written to please both the general public and specialists, The Return of Martin Guerre will interest those who want to know more about ordinary families and especially women of the past, and about the creation of literary legends. It is also a remarkable psychological narrative about where self-fashioning stops and lying begins.


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Revolt in the Netherlands
The Eighty Years War, 1568-1648
Anton van Der Lem
Reaktion Books, 2019
In 1568, the Seventeen Provinces in the Netherlands rebelled against the absolutist rule of the king of Spain. A confederation of duchies, counties, and lordships, the Provinces demanded the right of self-determination, the freedom of conscience and religion, and the right to be represented in government. Their long struggle for liberty and the subsequent rise of the Dutch Republic was a decisive episode in world history and an important step on the path to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And yet, it is a period in history we rarely discuss.

In his compelling retelling of the conflict, Anton van der Lem explores the main issues at stake on both sides of the struggle and why it took eighty years to achieve peace. He recounts in vivid detail the roles of the key protagonists, the decisive battles, and the war’s major turning points, from the Spanish governor’s Council of Blood to the Twelve Years Truce, while all the time unraveling the shifting political, religious, and military alliances that would entangle the foreign powers of France, Italy, and England. Featuring striking, rarely seen illustrations, this is a timely and balanced account of one of the most historically important conflicts of the early modern period.

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Rude and Barbarous Kingdom
Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth-Century English Voyagers
Edited by Lloyd E. Berry and Robert O. Crummey
University of Wisconsin Press, 1972

Lloyd E. Berry and Robert O. Crummey offer edited accounts of six English voyagers and their experiences in Muscovy Russia between 1553 and 1600. With modernized spelling and presentation, these accounts are accompanied by a glossary of Russian terms, introductions of their authors, and annotations that help put the travelers’ narratives into perspective.


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Samuel Johnson and Moral Discipline
Paul Kent Alkon
Northwestern University Press, 1967
Paul Kent Alkon’s Samuel Johnson and Moral Discipline provides reading of Johnson that emphasizes his moral discourse.  Shortly after its publication, Alkon’s book became first of all the standard reading of Johnson’s essays, contrasting them with the moral ideas Johnson discussed in his sermons, as moral writings, and second, as one of the first books on Johnson to explore the essayist’s focus on moral thinking as central to his writing.


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Selected Letters
Isabella d’Este
Iter Press, 2017

Isabella d’Este (1474–1539), daughter of the Este dukes of Ferrara and wife of Marchese Francesco II Gonzaga of Mantua, co-regent of the Gonzaga state, art collector, musician, diplomat, dynastic mother, traveler, reader, gardener, fashion innovator, and consummate politician, was also, as this volume attests, a prolific letter writer with a highly developed epistolary network. Presented here for the first time in any language is a representative selection from over 16,000 letters sent by Isabella to addressees across a wide social spectrum. Together, they paint a nuanced and colorful portrait of a brilliant and influential female protagonist of early modern European society.


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Shakespeare's Folktale Sources
Charlotte Artese
University of Delaware Press, 2015
Shakespeare’s Folktale Sources argues that seven plays—The Taming of the ShrewTitus AndronicusThe Merry Wives of WindsorThe Merchant of VeniceAll’s Well that Ends WellMeasure for Measure, and Cymbeline—derive one or more of their plots directly from folktales. In most cases, scholars have accepted one literary version of the folktale as a source. Recognizing that the same story has circulated orally and occurs in other medieval and early modern written versions allows for new readings of the plays. By acknowledging that a play’s source story circulated in multiple forms, we can see how the playwright was engaging his audience on common ground, retelling a story that may have been familiar to many of them, even the illiterate. We can also view the folktale play as a Shakespearean genre, defined by source as the chronicle histories are, that spans and traces the course of Shakespeare’s career. The fact that Shakespeare reworked folktales so frequently also changes the way we see the history of the literary folk- or fairy-tale, which is usually thought to bypass England and move from Italian novella collections to eighteenth-century French salons. Each chapter concludes with a bibliography listing versions of each folktale source as a resource for further research and teaching.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Spenser, Milton, and the Redemption of the Epic Hero
Christopher Bond
University of Delaware Press, 2011
This book studies the interplay of theology and poetics in the three great epics of early-modern England: the Faerie QueeneParadise Lost, and Paradise Regained. Bond examines the relationship between the poems’ primary heroes, Arthur and the Son, who are godlike, virtuous, and powerful, and the secondary heroes, Redcrosse and Adam, who are human, fallible, and weak. He looks back at the development of this pattern of dual heroism in classical, Medieval, and Italian Renaissance literature, investigates the ways in which Spenser and Milton adapted the model, and demonstrates how the Jesus of Paradise Regained can be seen as the culmination of this tradition. Challenging the opposition between “Calvinist,” “allegorical” Spenser and “Arminian,” “dramatic” Milton, this book offers a new account of their doctrinal and literary affinities within the European epic tradition. Arguing that Spenser influenced Milton in fundamental ways, Bond establishes a firmer structural and thematic link between the two authors, and shows how they transformed a strongly antifeminist genre by the addition of a crucial, although at times ambivalent, heroine. He also proposes solutions to some of the most difficult and controversial theological cruxes posed by these poems, in particular Spenser’s attitude to free will and Milton’s to the Trinity. By providing a deeper understanding of the religious agendas of these epics, this book encourages a rapprochement between scholarly approaches that are too narrowly concerned with either theology or poetics.

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Spenserian Moments
Gordon Teskey
Harvard University Press, 2019

From the distinguished literary scholar Gordon Teskey comes an essay collection that restores Spenser to his rightful prominence in Renaissance studies, opening up the epic of The Faerie Queene as a grand, improvisatory project on human nature, and arguing—controversially—that it is Spenser, not Milton, who is the more important and relevant poet for the modern world.

There is more adventure in The Faerie Queene than in any other major English poem. But the epic of Arthurian knights, ladies, and dragons in Faerie Land, beloved by C. S. Lewis, is often regarded as quaint and obscure, and few critics have analyzed the poem as an experiment in open thinking. In this remarkable collection, the renowned literary scholar Gordon Teskey examines the masterwork with care and imagination, explaining the theory of allegory—now and in Edmund Spenser’s Elizabethan age—and illuminating the poem’s improvisatory moments as it embarks upon fairy tale, myth, and enchantment.

Milton, often considered the greatest English poet after Shakespeare, called Spenser his “original.” But Teskey argues that while Milton’s rigid ideology in Paradise Lost has failed the test of time, Spenser’s allegory invites engagement on contemporary terms ranging from power, gender, violence, and virtue ethics, to mobility, the posthuman, and the future of the planet. The Faerie Queene was unfinished when Spenser died in his forties. It is the brilliant work of a poet of youthful energy and philosophical vision who opens up new questions instead of answering old ones. The epic’s grand finale, “The Mutabilitie Cantos,” delivers a vision of human life as dizzyingly turbulent and constantly changing, leaving a future open to everything.


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The Strange and Terrible Visions of Wilhelm Friess
The Paths of Prophecy in Reformation Europe
Jonathan Green
University of Michigan Press, 2014
Although nearly forgotten today, the prophetic writing of Wilhelm Friess was the most popular work of its kind in Germany in the second half of the sixteenth century. While the author “Wilhelm Friess” was a convenient fiction, his text had a long and remarkable history as it moved from the papal court in fourteenth-century Avignon, to Antwerp under Habsburg oppression, to Nuremberg as it was still reeling from Lutheran failures in the Schmalkaldic War, and then back to Antwerp at the outbreak of the Dutch revolt.

Dutch scholars have recognized that Frans Fraet was executed for printing a prognostication by Willem de Vriese, but this prognostication was thought to be lost. A few scholars of sixteenth-century German apocalypticism have briefly noted the prophecies of Wilhelm Friess but have not studied them in depth. The Strange and Terrible Visions of Wilhelm Friess is the first to connect de Vriese and Friess, as well as recognize the prophecy of Wilhelm Friess as an adaptation of a French version of theVademecum of Johannes de Rupescissa, making these pamphlets by far the most widespread source for Rupescissa’s apocalyptic thought in Reformation Germany. The book explains the connection between the first and second prophecies of Wilhelm Friess and discovers the Calvinist context of the second prophecy and its connection to Johann Fischart, one of the most important German writers of the time.

Jonathan Green provides a study of how textual history interacts with print history in early modern pamphlets and proposes a model of how early modern prophecies were created and transmitted. The Strange and Terrible Visions of Wilhelm Friess makes important contributions to the study of early modern German and Dutch literature, apocalypticism and confessionalization during the Reformation, and the history of printing in the sixteenth century.


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The Sugar Hacienda of the Marqueses Del Valle
Ward J. Barrett
University of Minnesota Press, 1970

The Sugar Hacienda of the Marqueses Del Valle was first published in 1970. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

This is a detailed history of a Mexican sugar plantation, the first such account to be published in English. The subject of the study is the Cortes plantation, which was established on the outskirts of Cuernavaca in about 1535 by Hernan Cortes, the conqueror of New Spain and the first Marques del Valle de Oaxaca. The plantation remained the property of his heirs and descendents until the twentieth century when, like most other sugar plantations in Morelos, it ceased production.

Professor Barrett bases his account largely on the records of the Cortes plantation, a remarkably continuous series of documents for an agricultural enterprise. He deals with the records in three principal ways: as representative of the history of the sugar industry in Mexico; as representative of the history, external relationships, structure, and management of Spanish colonial plantations; and as a chapter in the history of sugar technology. He presents a detailed picture of the entire operation of the plantation. He explains how water and land rights were acquired, the latter little by little, until a goodsized plantation was formed. He describes methods of irrigation, planting cycles, weeding and harvesting schedules, and, with the aid of charts and inventories, reconstructs the plan of the mill, describes its equipment, and traces the processing of the cane into sugar. Finally, he discusses the livestock and labor needed to run the plantation and mill—oxen and mules to plow, mules to carry the sugar to market, unskilled fieldworkers, both slave and hired, and highly skilled sugarmasters. The appendixes contain much useful supplementary material. The book is illustrated with drawings, maps, and reproductions of manuscripts.


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A Taste for the Foreign
Worldly Knowledge and Literary Pleasure in Early Modern French Fiction
Ellen R. Welch
University of Delaware Press, 2011

A Taste for the Foreign examines foreignness as a crucial aesthetic category for the development of prose fiction from Jacques Amyot’s 1547 translation of The Ethiopian Story to Antoine Galland’s early eighteenth-century version of The Thousand and One Nights. While fantastic storylines and elements of magic were increasingly shunned by a neo-classicist literary culture that valued verisimilitude above all else, writers and critics surmised that the depiction of exotic lands could offer a superior source for the novelty, variety, and marvelousness that constituted fiction’s appeal. In this sense, early modern fiction presents itself as privileged site for thinking through the literary and cultural stakes of exoticism, or the taste for the foreign. Long before the term exoticism came into common parlance in France, fiction writers thus demonstrated their understanding of the special kinds of aesthetic pleasure produced by evocations of foreignness, developing techniques to simulate those delights through imitations of the exotic. As early modern readers eagerly consumed travel narratives, maps, and international newsletters, novelists discovered ways to blur the distinction between true and imaginary representations of the foreign, tantalizing readers with an illusion of learning about the faraway lands that captured their imaginations.

This book analyzes the creative appropriations of those scientific or documentary forms of writing that claimed to inform the French public about exotic places. Concentrating on the most successful examples of some of the most important sub-genres of prose fiction in the long seventeenth century—heroic romances, shorter urban novels, fictional memoirs, and extraordinary voyages—the book examines how these types of fiction creatively appropriate the scientific or documentary forms of writing that claimed to inform the French public about exotic places.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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To Feast on Us as Their Prey
Cannibalism and the Early Modern Atlantic
Rachel B. Herrmann
University of Arkansas Press, 2019

Winner, 2020 Association for the Study of Food and Society Book Award, Edited Volume

Long before the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia, colony and its Starving Time of 1609–1610—one of the most famous cannibalism narratives in North American colonial history—cannibalism played an important role in shaping the human relationship to food, hunger, and moral outrage. Why did colonial invaders go out of their way to accuse women of cannibalism? What challenges did Spaniards face in trying to explain Eucharist rites to Native peoples? What roles did preconceived notions about non-Europeans play in inflating accounts of cannibalism in Christopher Columbus’s reports as they moved through Italian merchant circles?

Asking questions such as these and exploring what it meant to accuse someone of eating people as well as how cannibalism rumors facilitated slavery and the rise of empires, To Feast on Us as Their Prey posits that it is impossible to separate histories of cannibalism from the role food and hunger have played in the colonization efforts that shaped our modern world.


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Transformations of Memory and Forgetting in Sixteenth-Century France
Marguerite de Navarre, Pierre de Ronsard, Michel de Montaigne
Nicolas Russell
University of Delaware Press, 2011

This book proposes that in a number of French Renaissance texts, produced in varying contexts and genres, we observe a shift in thinking about memory and forgetting. Focusing on a corpus of texts by Marguerite de Navarre, Pierre de Ronsard, and Michel de Montaigne, it explores several parallel transformations of and challenges to traditional discourses on the human faculty of memory.

Throughout Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages, a number of influential authors described memory as a powerful tool used to engage important human concerns such as spirituality, knowledge, politics, and ethics. This tradition had great esteem for memory and made great efforts to cultivate it in their pedagogical programs. In the early sixteenth century, this attitude toward memory started to be widely questioned. The invention of the printing press and the early stages of the scientific revolution changed the intellectual landscape in ways that would make memory less important in intellectual endeavors. Sixteenth-century writers began to question the reliability and stability of memory. They became wary of this mental faculty, which they portrayed as stubbornly independent, mysterious, unruly, and uncontrollable–an attitude that became the norm in modern Western thought as is illustrated by the works of Descartes, Locke, Freud, Proust, Foucault, and Nora, for example.

Writing in this new intellectual landscape, Marguerite de Navarre, Ronsard, and Montaigne describe memory not as a powerful tool of the intellect but rather as an uncontrollable mental faculty that mirrored the uncertainty of human life. Their characterization of memory emerges from an engagement with a number of traditional ideas about memory. Notwithstanding the great many differences in concerns of these writers and in the nature of their texts, they react against or transform their classical and medieval models in similar ways. They focus on memory’s unruly side, the ways that memory functions independently of the will. They associate memory with the fluctuations of the body (the organic soul) rather than the stability of the mind (the intellectual soul). In their descriptions of memory, these authors both reflect and contribute to a modern understanding of and attitude towards this mental faculty.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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What Happened at the Council
John W. O'Malley
Harvard University Press, 2013

Winner of the John Gilmary Shea Prize

The Council of Trent (1545–1563), the Catholic Church’s attempt to put its house in order in response to the Protestant Reformation, has long been praised and blamed for things it never did. Now, in this first full one-volume history in modern times, John W. O’Malley brings to life the volatile issues that pushed several Holy Roman emperors, kings and queens of France, and five popes—and all of Europe with them—repeatedly to the brink of disaster.

During the council’s eighteen years, war and threat of war among the key players, as well as the Ottoman Turks’ onslaught against Christendom, turned the council into a perilous enterprise. Its leaders declined to make a pronouncement on war against infidels, but Trent’s most glaring and ironic silence was on the authority of the papacy itself. The popes, who reigned as Italian monarchs while serving as pastors, did everything in their power to keep papal reform out of the council’s hands—and their power was considerable. O’Malley shows how the council pursued its contentious parallel agenda of reforming the Church while simultaneously asserting Catholic doctrine.

Like What Happened at Vatican II, O’Malley’s Trent: What Happened at the Council strips mythology from historical truth while providing a clear, concise, and fascinating account of a pivotal episode in Church history. In celebration of the 450th anniversary of the council’s closing, it sets the record straight about the much misunderstood failures and achievements of this critical moment in European history.


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An Emotional History of Doubt
Alec Ryrie
Harvard University Press, 2019

“How has unbelief come to dominate so many Western societies? The usual account invokes the advance of science and rational knowledge. Ryrie’s alternative, in which emotions are the driving force, offers new and interesting insights into our past and present.”
—Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age

Why have societies that were once overwhelmingly Christian become so secular? We think we know the answer, pointing to science and reason as the twin culprits, but in this lively, startlingly original reconsideration, Alec Ryrie argues that people embraced unbelief much as they have always chosen their worldviews: through the heart more than the mind.

Looking back to the crisis of the Reformation and beyond, he shows how, long before philosophers started to make the case for atheism, powerful cultural currents were challenging traditional faith. As Protestant radicals eroded time-honored certainties and ushered in an age of anger and anxiety, some defended their faith by redefining it in terms of ethics, setting in motion secularizing forces that soon became transformational. Unbelievers tells a powerful emotional history of doubt with potent lessons for our own angry and anxious times.

“Well-researched and thought-provoking…Ryrie is definitely on to something right and important.”
Christianity Today

“A beautifully crafted history of early doubt…Unbelievers covers much ground in a short space with deep erudition and considerable wit.”
The Spectator

“Ryrie traces the root of religious skepticism to the anger, the anxiety, and the ‘desperate search for certainty’ that drove thinkers like…John Donne to grapple with church dogma.”
New Yorker


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The Unintended Reformation
How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society
Brad S. Gregory
Harvard University Press, 2015

In a work that is as much about the present as the past, Brad Gregory identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of the following five centuries. A hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs, an absence of any substantive common good, the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism—all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West.

Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to advance the realization of this vision, not disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West. Today, what we are left with are fragments: intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse; a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief; a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vision of religion; a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism; and the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.

The Unintended Reformation asks what propelled the West into this trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.


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Upriver Journeys
Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570–1850
Steven B. Miles
Harvard University Press

Tracing journeys of Cantonese migrants along the West River and its tributaries, this book describes the circulation of people through one of the world’s great river systems between the late sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Steven B. Miles examines the relationship between diaspora and empire in an upriver frontier, and the role of migration in sustaining families and lineages in the homeland of what would become a global diaspora. Based on archival research and multisite fieldwork, this innovative history of mobility explores a set of diasporic practices ranging from the manipulation of household registration requirements to the maintenance of split families.

Many of the institutions and practices that facilitated overseas migration were not adaptations of tradition to transnational modernity; rather, they emerged in the early modern era within the context of riverine migration. Likewise, the extension and consolidation of empire required not only unidirectional frontier settlement and sedentarization of indigenous populations. It was also responsible for the regular circulation between homeland and frontier of people who drove imperial expansion—even while turning imperial aims toward their own purposes of socioeconomic advancement.


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A Veil of Silence
Women and Sound in Renaissance Italy
Julia Rombough
Harvard University Press, 2024

An illuminating study of early modern efforts to regulate sound in women’s residential institutions, and how the noises of city life—both within and beyond their walls—defied such regulation.

Amid the Catholic reforms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the number of women and girls housed in nunneries, reformatories, and charity homes grew rapidly throughout the city of Florence. Julia Rombough follows the efforts of legal, medical, and ecclesiastical authorities to govern enclosed women, and uncovers the experiences of the women themselves as they negotiated strict sensory regulations. At a moment when quiet was deeply entangled with ideals of feminine purity, bodily health, and spiritual discipline, those in power worked constantly to silence their charges and protect them from the urban din beyond institutional walls.

Yet the sounds of a raucous metropolis found their way inside. The noise of merchants hawking their wares, sex workers laboring and socializing with clients, youth playing games, and coaches rumbling through the streets could not be contained. Moreover, enclosed women themselves contributed to the urban soundscape. While some embraced the pursuit of silence and lodged regular complaints about noise, others broke the rules by laughing, shouting, singing, and conversing. Rombough argues that ongoing tensions between legal regimes of silence and the inevitable racket of everyday interactions made women’s institutions a flashpoint in larger debates about gender, class, health, and the regulation of urban life in late Renaissance Italy.

Attuned to the vibrant sounds of life behind walls of stone and sanction, A Veil of Silence illuminates a revealing history of early modern debates over the power of the senses.


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Water and Cognition in Early Modern English Literature
Nicholas Helms
Amsterdam University Press

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Ways of Making and Knowing
The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge
Edited by Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook
Bard Graduate Center, 2017
Although craftspeople and artists often work with natural materials, the notion that making art can constitute a means of knowing nature is a novel one. This book, with contributions from historians of science, medicine, art, and material culture, shows that the histories of science and art are not simply histories of concepts or styles, but histories of the making and using of objects to understand the world. An examination of material practices makes it clear that the methods of the artisan represent a process of knowledge making that involves extensive experimentation and observation that parallel similar processes in the sciences. Ways of Making and Knowing offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary history of the ways in which human beings have sought out, discovered, and preserved their own knowledge of the world around them; it has only been through material and human interaction with (and manipulation of) nature that we have come to understand it.

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When Bishops Meet
An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II
John W. O'Malley
Harvard University Press, 2019

From one of our foremost church historians comes an overarching analysis of the three modern Catholic councils—an assessment of what Catholicism was and has become today.

Catholic councils are meetings of bishops. In this unprecedented comparison of the three most recent meetings, John O’Malley traverses more than 450 years of Catholic history and examines the councils’ most pressing and consistent concerns: questions of purpose, power, and relevance in a changing world. By offering new, sometimes radical, even troubling perspectives on these convocations, When Bishops Meet analyzes the evolution of the church itself.

The Catholic Church today is shaped by the historical arc starting from Trent in the sixteenth century to Vatican II. The roles of popes, the laity, theologians, and others have varied from the bishop-centered Trent, to Vatican I’s declaration of papal infallibility, to a new balance of power in the mid-twentieth century. At Trent, lay people had direct influence on proceedings. By Vatican II, their presence was token. At each gathering, fundamental issues recurred: the relationship between bishops and the papacy, the very purpose of a council, and doctrinal change. Can the teachings of the church, by definition a conservative institution, change over time?

Councils, being ecclesiastical as well as cultural institutions, have always reflected and profoundly influenced their times. Readers familiar with John O’Malley’s earlier work as well as those with no knowledge of councils will find this volume an indispensable guide for essential questions: Who is in charge of the church? What difference did the councils make, and will there be another?


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When Fathers Ruled
Family Life in Reformation Europe
Steven Ozment
Harvard University Press, 1983

Here is a lively study of marriage and the family during the Reformation, primarily in Gemany and Switzerland, that dispels the commonly held notion of fathers as tyrannical and families as loveless.

Did husbands and wives love one another in Reformation Europe? Did the home and family life matter to most people? In this wide-ranging work, Steven Ozment has gathered the answers of contemporaries to these questions. His subject is the patriarchal family in Germany and Switzerland, primarily among Protestants. But unlike modern scholars from Philippe Ariès to Lawrence Stone, Ozment finds the fathers of early modern Europe sympathetic and even admirable. They were not domineering or loveless men, nor were their homes the training ground for passive citizenry in an age of political absolutism. From prenatal care to graveside grief, they expressed deep love for their wives and children. Rather than a place where women and children were bullied by male chauvinists, the Protestant home was the center of a domestic reform movement against Renaissance antifeminism and was an attempt to resolve the crises of family life. Demanding proper marriages for all women, Martin Luther and his followers suppressed convents and cloisters as the chief institutions of womankind’s sexual repression, cultural deprivation, and male clerical domination. Consent, companionship, and mutual respect became the watchwords of marriage. And because they did, genuine divorce and remarriage became possible among Christians for the first time.

This graceful book restores humanity to the Reformation family and to family history.


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William Warner's Syrinx
or, A Sevenfold History
William Warner, edited with introduction and notes by Wallace A. Bacon
Northwestern University Press, 1950
William Warner’s Syrinx, or a Sevenfold History, may be the first English novel. Unlike others of the time, though, Warner wrote a realistic novel whose ancestors include the adventure stories of Alexandrine romance, and focus not on the tales of an aristocratic class but on the lives of middle-class individuals. Wallace A. Bacon’s critical edition brings Warner’s important novel—with its young protagonists being dragged through many adventures, tried and tested by Fortune, with their tales being brought to a close by auspicious gods—to life, preserving it and introducing it to new generations of readers. Bacon’s critical apparatus, including an extensive introduction, provides significant context for Warner’s work, assessing its key role in the history of the novel and in the history of early modern literature.

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Women as Translators in Early Modern England
Deborah Uman
University of Delaware Press, 2012

Women as Translators in Early Modern England offers a feminist theory of translation that considers both the practice and representation of translation in works penned by early modern women. It argues for the importance of such a theory in changing how we value women’s work. Because of England’s formal split from the Catholic Church and the concomitant elevation of the written vernacular, the early modern period presents a rich case study for such a theory. This era witnessed not only a keen interest in reviving the literary glories of the past, but also a growing commitment to humanist education, increasing literacy rates among women and laypeople, and emerging articulations of national sentiment. Moreover, the period saw a shift in views of authorship, in what it might mean for individuals to seek fame or profit through writing. Until relatively recently in early modern scholarship, women were understood as excluded from achieving authorial status for a number of reasons—their limited education, the belief that public writing was particularly scandalous for women, and the implicit rule that they should adhere to the holy trinity of “chastity, silence, and obedience.”

While this view has changed significantly, women writers are still understood, however grudgingly, as marginal to the literary culture of the time. Fewer women than men wrote, they wrote less, and their “choice” of genres seems somewhat impoverished; add to this the debate over translation as a potential vehicle of literary expression and we can see why early modern women’s writings are still undervalued. This book looks at how female translators represent themselves and their work, revealing a general pattern in which translation reflects the limitations women faced as writers while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to transcend these limitations. Indeed, translation gave women the chance to assume an authorial role, a role that by legal and cultural standards should have been denied to them, a role that gave them ownership of their words and the chance to achieve profit, fame, status and influence.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.


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Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court
Power, Risk, and Opportunity
Fabian Persson
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
What was it possible for a woman to achieve at an early modern court? By analysing the experiences of a wide range of women at the court of Sweden, this book demonstrates the opportunities open to women who served at, and interacted with, the court; the complexities of women's agency in a court society; and, ultimately, the precariousness of power. In doing so, it provides an institutional context to women's lives at court, charting the full extent of the rewards that they might obtain, alongside the social and institutional constrictions that they faced. Its longue durée approach, moreover, clarifies how certain periods, such as that of the queens regnant, brought new possibilities. Based on an extensive array of Swedish and international primary sources, including correspondence, financial records and diplomatic reports, it also takes into account the materialities used to create hierarchies and ceremonies, such as physical structures and spaces within the court. Comprehensive in its scope, the book is divided into three parts, which focus respectively on outsiders at court, insiders, and members of the royal family.

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Women, Entertainment, and Precursors of the French Salon, 1532-1615
Julie Campbell
Amsterdam University Press, 2023
This study of ludic literary society in sixteenth-century France addresses Italianate practices of philosophical and literary sociability as they took root there. It asserts that entertainment activities of women-led circles illustrate the richly complex precursors of the seventeenth-century salons. Notions from the philosophy of play, such as those developed by Johan Huizinga, Eugen Fink, and Roger Caillois, who argue that play is critically intertwined with the development of society, provide a theoretical path across these periods of women’s engagement in literary culture. The barrister Estienne Pasquier, whose voluminous network of literary and legal connections permitted him entry into the society of such women, acts as an eyewitness to sixteenth-century circles. Ultimately, we see that the ludic activities in such society produced powerful influences that extended beyond the confines of the groups in question to shape ideas, attitudes, and activities—such as those of the salon cultural norms to come.

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Women Warriors in Early Modern Spain
A Tribute to Barbara Mujica
Susan L. Fischer
University of Delaware Press, 2019
Although scholars often depict early modern Spanish women as victims, history and fiction of the period are filled with examples of women who defended their God-given right to make their own decisions and to define their own identities. The essays in Women Warriors in Early Modern Spain examine many such examples, demonstrating how women battled the status quo, defended certain causes, challenged authority, and broke barriers. Such women did not necessarily engage in masculine pursuits, but often used cultural production and engaged in social subversion to exercise resistance in the home, in the convent, on stage, or at their writing desks.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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The Young Descartes
Nobility, Rumor, and War
Harold J. Cook
University of Chicago Press, 2018
René Descartes is best known as the man who coined the phrase “I think, therefore I am.”  But though he is remembered most as a thinker, Descartes, the man, was no disembodied mind, theorizing at great remove from the worldly affairs and concerns of his time. Far from it. As a young nobleman, Descartes was a soldier and courtier who took part in some of the greatest events of his generation—a man who would not seem out of place in the pages of The Three Musketeers.

In The Young Descartes, Harold J. Cook tells the story of a man who did not set out to become an author or philosopher—Descartes began publishing only after the age of forty. Rather, for years he traveled throughout Europe in diplomacy and at war. He was present at the opening events of the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe and Northern Italy, and was also later involved in struggles within France. Enduring exile, scandals, and courtly intrigue, on his journeys Descartes associated with many of the most innovative free thinkers and poets of his day, as well as great noblemen, noblewomen, and charismatic religious reformers. In his personal life, he expressed love for men as well as women and was accused of libertinism by his adversaries.

These early years on the move, in touch with powerful people and great events, and his experiences with military engineering and philosophical materialism all shaped the thinker and philosopher Descartes became in exile, where he would begin to write and publish, with purpose. But though it is these writings that made ultimately made him famous, The Young Descartes shows that this story of his early life and the tumultuous times that molded him is sure to spark a reappraisal of his philosophy and legacy.

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