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Eamon Duffy's, The Stripping of the Altars and Voices of Morebath come to mind.Both focus on life in England, Altars is the history of the English reformantion and it's aftermath, Morebath is about life in an English village before during and after the reformation.
Such simplistic nonsense de-humanizes the people of the medieval period, removing their agency and making them nothing more than ciphers or pawns of Big Men and Wicked Events. This means he views the whole of the period as only a dark interlude before the glorious rebirth of the early modern era, a long period in which nothing important changed and nothing happened. If there's one thing I cannot abide it's a book that claims to be a history that is only a reaffirmation of someone's biases. I'm about halfway through A World Lit Only by Fire now, and while I have to agree there are some startling inaccuracies, I'm enjoying the Reformation section.
Manchester pulls together a lot of basic information on the humanist movement in pre-Reformation Germany, a fascinating philosophical movement that is under-appreciated.
Manchester clearly approaches the period not with an abiding interest or love, such as one sees in the works of R. This utterly ignores much of the scholarship of the past half century regarding the vital developments, the political, social and intellectual shifts and critical events (such as the Black Death) of the medieval period without which the early modern era could not have been what it was.
Compounding the problem are some horrible errors of fact and interpretation.
I would also be interested in the same sort of treatment of Russia during this same period.
Volume II of A History of Private Life edited by Georges Duby is pretty interesting, and full of great information about how people lived.Anyway, he's a great writer and that made me open to reading this book, that and it's really short. I'd never known much about the humanists or Luther or how the Reformation developed.But whenever he attempts broad descriptions of life in any period it feels really shaky. Human behavior is infinitely variable, it's how prevalent a type of behavior is that really counts.He talks about the "mindlessness" of the people of the medieval period (tell that to Abelard or Aquinas or any number of chroniclers, theologians and academics). ) Apparently peasants didn't have surnames (not true, or at least so simple). Usually I am one of those people who needs to experience something to judge it, but recently I have been finding that reviews by qualified individuals are enough to direct me in other directions.My favorite was "the medieval man's lack of self ego" (page 21). I am a scholar of Giraldus Cambrensis and the man had a huge ego. I was also plannin gon reading this book, but now I'll move to the next option.People put off by the dry nature of more scholarly accounts might want to read this first for a memorable "who's who" of the Renaissance period.A general familiarity with important people and events helps make the scholarly works more accessible and interesting.He does have a thesis, which is that people didn't really have private lives in ancient times and gradually developed them as civilization progressed.I've just added Johan Huizinga's The Autumn of the Middle Ages to my library, but haven't had a chance to start reading it yet.Somewhere among the articles about amphibians and Damon & Pythias was an entry on the Dark Ages, with a description of a terrible lapse of civilization.Manchester doesn't go much beyond this before he gets to his real work narrating the exciting developments of the Renaissance.