The Gentry in England and Wales, 1500-1700
"This book sets out to study the behaviour and influence of one of the most important social groups in early modern England and Wales: the gentry. Although their power and wealth has been the subject of lively historiographical debate for the last fifty years there has been no sustained attempt to integrate and evaluate the available evidence on this section of the elite. Lawrence Stone's magisterial The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 (published in 1965) offered a full analysis of the titled nobility of those non-nobles most closely tied to the aristocracy by blood and wealth. The present book moves further down the social scale, considering those whom contemporaries sometimes called the 'lesser nobility', the landed classes without claim to title, and those below them who struggled to establish a right to be called 'gentlemen'." "It is possible to attempt some quantitative analysis of the size of the gentry group, and even of its aggregate wealth and landholding - issues to which the 'rise of the gentry' debate accorded much attention. But the present volume adopts instead an ethnographic approach in order to understand what it was to be a 'gentleman' in early modern England; what contemporaries believed to be the essence of gentility; and what mode of life had to be adopted in order to justify claims to status and power. Wealth and political influence are given full attention, but so are attitudes to family and lineage, to education, learning and social behaviour, and also, since the period 1500-1700 was one of religious upheaval, to belief and relations with the church. Case studies and artefacts are used as essential 'texts' to explicate social values and action."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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