A social history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.


This volume--a collection of essays dedicated to one of this century's most distinguished medieval historians, David Herlihy--introduces the general reader to the new social history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The essays address three themes: sex and the family, power and patronage in local history, and society in town and countryside. The authors use current research to illustrate how Herlihy's ideas continue to shape work about the lives of powerful and ordinary people in this long and important period of Western history.
Portraits of Medieval and Renaissance Living opens with Herlihy's final summary of his views on family history, followed by a reminiscence by his most important collaborator, Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. The first group of essays takes us inside specific familial settings, using recent methods in anthropological, legal, and women's studies to uncover new dimensions of medieval and Renaissance family life. A second group of studies focuses on the question of authority in medieval society and advances new theses about politics and society in Florence and other local settings. The final group of authors considers the special circumstances of town and countryside in Italy, England, and Spain and draws insightful generalizations across territorial and national boundaries.
Like Herlihy's own work, these essays present innovative and challenging hypotheses about significant problems in the history of medieval and Renaissance Europe. Important new material on Florence, family history, religion, the Inquisition, and taxation is presented for the first time, but the essays are not simply technical exercises focused on small or isolated pieces of research. Thus the volume will go beyond the interest of specialists in medieval and Renaissance social history and will attract a wide audience of students and scholars.
Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., is Professor of History, Brandeis University. Steven Epstein is Professor of History, University of Colorado.