Monthly Archives: October 2016

In Memorandum Zvi Razi

By the Editorial Team Past & Present was sorry to learn of the recent death of the esteemed medievalist Professor Zvi Razi. Zvi, whose field was the English peasantry in the later medieval period, worked at Tel-Aviv University for over four decades. He rose to especial prominence with the publication of his monograph Life, Marriage and Death in a Medieval Parish : Economy, Society and Demography in Halesowen 1270-1400 in 1980. Life, Marriage and Death in a Medieval Parish was described by Paul Slack, who singled out his “exhaustive” scholarship and “novel and sophisticated methodology”, as making “a large and fundamental contribution to our knowledge of medieval English demography”. Zvi’s involvement in the debates surrounding the nature of medieval peasant society extended from time-to-time to the pages of Past & Present. In his memory, and in honour of the contribution that he made to our understanding of past societies, we have made the three substantive articles that he published with us between 1979 and 1993 free to access between now and the 31st December 2016: “The Toronto School’s Reconstitution of Medieval Peasant Society: A Critical View”, Past & Present (1979) 85 (1): 141-157 (Review Article) “Family, Land and the Village […]

Introducing “The Social History of the Archive”

By Liesbeth Corens (Supplement co-editor) A new supplement has been published: a collection of essays called The Social History of the Archive: Record-Keeping in Early Modern Europe. It is one of two volumes arising from a conference held at the British Academy in April 2014. This painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger adorns the cover of the volume. We did not just choose it because it is pretty, but also because it captures so much of what we are trying to achieve in this volume. For instance, the confusion about the title of the piece is very telling. Most commonly known as The Village Lawyer, it also goes under the name of The Payment of the Tithe, The Tax Collector’s Office, The Notary’s Office, and The Lawyer of Bad Cases: five names for one painting. The confusion over the title is symptomatic of the diverse nature of records and paperwork. In the centuries that separate us from the time of Brueghel’s painting, the various administrative and legal occupations may have diversified, crystallised, and professionalised, but we should not lose sight of the broader interconnecting thread of information management. This entangled set of meanings and broad remit of record-keeping is what we seek […]

Writing “Gender, Ungodly Parents and a Witch Family in Seventeenth-Century Germany”

By Alison Rowlands “Gender, Ungodly Parents and a Witch Family in Seventeenth-Century Germany”, my article in the August 2016 issue of Past & Present, centres on a case of witchcraft from the Germany city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The case began when an 11-year-old epileptic boy called Hans Adam Knöspel claimed that his mother, Anna Maria, had taken him to a witches’ dance. Hans Adam’s allegations triggered a witch-trial in 1689, which ended with the boy being separated from his family and sent to live in the city hospital, his mother being banished, and his father (cartwright Georg Adam Knöspel) having to give up his citizenship and leave the city with the rest of the family. In the hospital Hans Adam was subjected to an intense pastoral effort by the city’s clerics to save his soul and to teach him to be a good Christian; this involved the boy in a formal ceremony of renouncing the devil in the city’s main church of St James in 1690. The article was fascinating and challenging for me to write, not least because of the voluminous documentation relating to the case. The post-1500 legal records held in the Rothenburg town archive are […]

“The Pilgrimage of Grace Reconsidered”: Cliff Davies in Memorandum

By the Editorial Team Past & Present was saddened to hear over the weekend of the death at the age of eighty of Cliff Davies, Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College Oxford. A pre-eminent early modernist who authored Peace, Print and Protestantism 1450-1558 (1976), Cliff spent most of his adult life teaching at Wadham and as Keeper of the College Archives became the go-to expert on the College’s history. He served as the University of Oxford Faculty of History’s Director of Graduate Studies during the 1990s, a period when the number of graduate students at the institution increased substantially. He will be very much missed. In his memory the Past & Present are pleased to announce that his 1968 article for the journal, “The Pilgrimage of Grace Reconsidered”, shall be free to access from now until the end of 2016. Cliff (C.S.L.) Davies, early modernist, 1936-2016  

Understanding Material Loss: The Importance of Absence

by Kate Smith (Conference Organiser) Past & Present is generously funding a conference on ‘Understanding Material Loss Across Time and Space’, which will take place at the University of Birmingham in February 2017 (registration is now open until 31st January 2017). Confirmed keynotes for the conference include, Prof. Pamela H. Smith, Dr. Simon Werrett, Prof. Maya Jasanoff, Prof. Jonathan Lamb, Prof. Anthony Bale and Dr. Astrid Swenson. In this blog post, the conference organizer Kate Smith reflects on how and why the conference emerged. As with many conferences and research projects engaged with understanding the past, Understanding Material Loss principally emerged from events and processes at work in the present. With the financial crisis of 2008, the large-scale displacement and migration of peoples, fears around water, food and energy resource scarcity, as well as increasingly urgent discussions about climate change and the Anthropocene, the contemporary moment seems to be filled with loss. Yet despite growing concerns over loss in the present, our understanding of how and when loss has been recognized as such, how humans have responded to it in the past and how such responses have shaped historic processes, remains opaque. In response Understanding Material Loss will bring together […]