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The Rise and Fall of Merry Englandexplores the religious and secular rituals which marked the passage of the year in late medieval and early modern England, and tells the story of how they altered over time in response to political, religious, and social changes. Ronald Hutton examines a number of important and controversial issues, such as the character and pace of the English Reformation, the nature of the early Stuart 'Reformation of Manners', the context of writers like Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick, the origins of the science of folklore, the relevance of cultural divisions to the English Civil War, the impact of the English Revolution, and the viability of economic explanations for social change. Never before has such a comprehensive study of the subject been undertaken, and it has been made possible by using categories of source material, notably local financial records, in a quantity never attempted hitherto. This is highly readable and entertaining book which, in both research and interpretation, breaks several frontiers.
Oxford University Press
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