Imagine you could see the smiles of the people mentioned in Samuel Pepys’s diary, hear the shouts of market traders, and touch their wares. How would you find your way around? Where would you stay? What would you wear? Where might you be suspected of witchcraft? Where would you be welcome? This is an up-close-and-personal look at Britain between the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 and the end of the century. The last witch is sentenced to death just two years before Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, the bedrock of modern science, is published. Religion still has a severe grip on society and yet some—including the king—flout every moral convention they can find. There are great fires in London and Edinburgh; the plague disappears; a global trading empire develops.Over these four dynamic decades, the last vestiges of medievalism are swept away and replaced by a tremendous cultural flowering. Why are half the people you meet under the age of twenty-one? What is considered rude? And why is dueling so popular? Mortimer delves into the nuances of daily life to paint a vibrant and detailed picture of society at the dawn of the modern world as only he can.
About the Author
Dr. Ian Mortimer has been described by the London Times as "the most remarkable medieval historian of our time." He is the author of The Time Traveler's Guide to Restoration Britain and Outcasts of Time, both available from Pegasus Books. He was awarded the Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society and is a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Please visit his website at www.ianmortimer.com. He lives in England.
Mortimer has magicked us back to a historical period starting approximately 350 years ago. History comes in many shapes and forms, moved and crafted by the availability of knowledge, by ideology, and shifting modes of inquiry, by angles of approach, by a desire for distance or intimacy. Mortimer is of the latter camp; not the first in the history of history, but a peerless purveyor of its ilk.
Displaying an impressive range and depth of knowledge as well as a writerly instinct for dramatic presentation, Mortimer continues his you-are-there approach to English history. Mortimer deeply immerses the reader in this world, imparting an amazing first-hand feel for what living in the era was like. This is a sure bet for history lovers and readers with a penchant for unusual travelogues.
Social historian Mortimer is on to a good thing. His previous, similarly structured books, The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England and The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England, charmed readers, and this latest will do the same. Readers will finish this third in a delightful series of bottom-up histories hoping Mortimer has his sights set on Georgian England.
An accessible book, entertaining and learned, for professional historians and general readers alike.