Lives Uncovered: A Sourcebook of Early Modern Europe

Edited by Nicholas Terpstra

© 2019

Curated by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Terpstra, Lives Uncovered is a captivating collection of early modern primary sources organized around the human life cycle. The collection begins with a short essay titled "How to Read a Primary Source," which helps readers recognize different kinds of primary sources and introduces the idea of critical reading. A second brief essay, "Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period," details the organization of the volume and explains each stage in the life cycle within its historical context.

Over 150 readings examine men and women from different social classes and different religious and racial groups, addressing topics that include sex and sexuality, food and drink, poverty, crime and punishment, religious tension and coexistence, and migration and emigration. Using a creative range of sources such as letters, wills, laws, diaries, fiction, and poems, Terpstra gives readers a comprehensive picture of everyday life in early modern Europe and in other parts of the globe that Europeans were beginning to settle and colonize.

Each of the life-cycle chapters includes a combination of longer readings, shorter readings, and images. Every reading begins with a short introduction that sets the context of the primary source, while review questions complement the main themes of the readings. Over 30 illustrations serve as non-textual primary sources. An index is also provided.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 30
  • Dimensions: 7.9in x 0.8in x 10.0in
Product Formats

SaveUP TO

Book Formats

SKU# HE000554

  • PUBLISHED JUL 2019
    From: $59.95
    ISBN 9781442607323
  • PUBLISHED JUL 2019

    From: $97.50

    Regular Price: $130.00

    ISBN 9781487594510
  • PUBLISHED JUL 2019

    From: $35.96

    Regular Price: $47.95

Quick Overview

Gathering insightful primary documents into one place, Nicholas Terpstra supplies readers with first-hand accounts of the everyday lives of early modern Europeans.

Lives Uncovered: A Sourcebook of Early Modern Europe

Edited by Nicholas Terpstra

© 2019

Curated by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Terpstra, Lives Uncovered is a captivating collection of early modern primary sources organized around the human life cycle. The collection begins with a short essay titled "How to Read a Primary Source," which helps readers recognize different kinds of primary sources and introduces the idea of critical reading. A second brief essay, "Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period," details the organization of the volume and explains each stage in the life cycle within its historical context.

Over 150 readings examine men and women from different social classes and different religious and racial groups, addressing topics that include sex and sexuality, food and drink, poverty, crime and punishment, religious tension and coexistence, and migration and emigration. Using a creative range of sources such as letters, wills, laws, diaries, fiction, and poems, Terpstra gives readers a comprehensive picture of everyday life in early modern Europe and in other parts of the globe that Europeans were beginning to settle and colonize.

Each of the life-cycle chapters includes a combination of longer readings, shorter readings, and images. Every reading begins with a short introduction that sets the context of the primary source, while review questions complement the main themes of the readings. Over 30 illustrations serve as non-textual primary sources. An index is also provided.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 30
  • Dimensions: 7.9in x 0.8in x 10.0in
  • Reviews

    "Lives Uncovered is a treasure chest of fascinating sources on life in early modern Europe and North Africa. Jews, Christians, and Muslims tell us their thoughts and actions, and bring us close to the amazing possibilities of the past."


    Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University

    "This wonderful primary-source collection offers visual and written evidence of the lives of men, women, and children from before the cradle to beyond the grave. It will enrich any course in the Renaissance, Reformation, or early modern Europe, providing students with firsthand encounters with people of the past, whose concerns and challenges were at once similar and yet very different from their own."


    Merry Wiesner-Hanks, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    "Opening the window wide onto the beliefs and attitudes of early modern people, this volume covers a dizzying array of subjects, including the human body, illness and medicine, sexuality and gender, conception and pregnancy, work and poverty, prejudice and slavery, murder, punishment, and death. This volume excites me as an instructor, and I’m sure it will excite my students."


    Gary K. Waite, Department of History, University of New Brunswick
  • Author Information

    Nicholas Terpstra is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Toronto.
  • Table of contents

    List of Figures
    Acknowledgements

    1. How to Read a Primary Source

    2. Lives Uncovered: Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period

    3. Body and Spirit, Sickness and Health
    3.1. The Cosmic Human (1531)
    3.2. The Human Animal (1561)
    3.3. You are what you eat, or you eat what you are? (1656)
    3.4. Cooking Comfort Foods (1570)
    3.5. A Balanced Diet (1587)
    3.6. New Food: Tomato (1692)
    3.7. Depression as a Spiritual Imbalance (1643)
    3.8. Combatting Inner Demons (1653)
    3.9. Self-Medicating with Alcohol (1682)
    3.10. A New Addiction: Coffee
    3.11. A New Vice: Tobacco (1605)

    4. Conception, Contraception, and Birth
    4.1. A Woman’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1671)
    4.2. A Man’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1612)
    4.3. Menstruation
    4.4. How to Have a Healthy Childbirth (1513)
    4.5. Boys and Girls in the Womb (1587; 1671)
    4.6. One Sex or Two? Women and Men as Mirrors of Each Other
    4.7. How to Prevent Miscarriage (1656; 1671)
    4.8. Diary of a Dutch Midwife (1693-1702)
    4.9. Diary of a Florentine Father (1404–31)
    4.10. Diary of an English Mother (1648–68)
    4.11. Penalties for Abortion and Infanticide (1555)
    4.12. Miscarriage and Abortion (1671)
    4.13. Trials for Infanticide (1677; 1679)
    4.14. Trying to Understand Birth Defects (1575)
    4.15. The Business of Wetnursing (1420s)
    4.16. Wetnursing Carnival Songs
    4.17. Breastfeeding is Good, and Mother’s Milk is Best (1622)
    4.18. A Jewish Circumcision

    5. Childhood and Adolescence
    5.1. What Boys and Girls Need to Learn
    5.2. Bad Dreams and Bedwetting (1653)
    5.3. Training of a Renaissance Feminist (1488)
    5.4. A Man’s Idea of a School for Girls (1671)
    5.5. A Woman’s Idea of a School for Girls (1694)
    5.6. A Feminist Instructs Her Brothers (1485)
    5.7. Raising Muslim and Jewish Children in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)
    5.8. Writing Home: An Obedient Son (1578)
    5.9. Writing Home: A Wily Son (1629-36)
    5.10. Youth Rules the Night
    5.11. Life of a University Student (1550s)

    6. Working Life
    6.1. Instructions for the Ideal Servant: An Employer’s View (1681)
    6.2. Learning a Trade on the Job
    6.3. The Apprentice’s Overseer
    6.4. Peasant Protest and Rebellion (1502; 1525)
    6.5. Workers and Employers at Odds
    6.6. Women in/and the Guilds: Gold Spinners in Germany
    6.7. Apprenticeship Contract for a Daughter (France 1610)
    6.8. Apprenticeship Contract for a Female Orphan
    6.9. Protecting Local Industry (1687)
    6.10. The Rural Woman’s Guide to Hard Work (1550)

    7. Marriage: Making and Ending It
    7.1. A Contested Marriage in Court: Richard Tymond vs.Margarey Shepard (1487)
    7.2. A Contested Marriage in Court: Alice Parker vs. Richard Tenwinter (1488)
    7.3. Marrying Your Own
    7.4. A Man Describes the Perfect Wife (1583)
    7.5. Domestic Assault
    7.6. Marrying to Breed (1654)
    7.7. Italian Marriage Negotiations
    7.8. German Marriage Negotiations (1533)
    7.9. English Marriage Negotiations (1680–81)
    7.10. Marriage Night Conversation
    7.11. Fertility Curses and Cures
    7.12. French Marriage Negotiations: Contract for a Second Marriage (1540)
    7.13. A Woman’s Critique of Married Life (1600)
    7.14. “Happy the Woman Without a Man”
    7.15. A Man’s Critique of Married Life (1682)
    7.16. Calculating Adultery
    7.17. Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Spain (1438; 1474)
    7.18. A Woman’s Response to Bigamy: Recovering Independence (1539)
    7.19. Impotence and Divorce (1635)
    7.20. Muslim Marriage Ceremonies in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest’s View
    7.21. Marriage Without Rituals: The Quaker Option
    7.22. A Woman Reflects on Marriage

    8. Sex, Gender, and Prostitution
    8.1. A Morisca Prostitute in Valencia (1491)
    8.2. A Catalogue of London Prostitutes (1691)
    8.3. City Government Establishing a Brothel (1460)
    8.4. Same-Sex Relations and Cross-Dressing (1477)
    8.5. Warning Parents about Same-Sex Relations among Girls
    8.6. A Transvestite Prostitute (1395)
    8.7. Prosecuting a Priest for Same-Sex Relations (1651)
    8.8. Socially Acceptable – and Unacceptable – Same-Sex Relations among Men
    8.9. Sex and the Convent
    8.10. Prosecuting Rape (1675)

    9. Poverty and Poor Relief
    9.1. Rural Poverty in France (1484)
    9.2. Poor Consumers Protesting Adulterated Food (1484; 1494)
    9.3. Unworthy Poor and Worthy Rich (1524)
    9.4. Chasing the Deadbeat Dad (1696)
    9.5. Civic Help = Self Help (1526)
    9.6. The Common Chest and the Common Good (1522)
    9.7. Women in the Economy of Makeshifts (17th Century)
    9.8. Urban Poverty in France (1530s)
    9.9. Sheltering and “Improving” Orphans and Abandoned Children (1686)
    9.10. The Challenge of Keeping an Orphanage Open
    9.11. Better Schools for “Better” Children (1683–84)
    9.12. Getting the Poor Out of Sight

    10. Crime and Punishment
    10.1. Selling Murder and Mayhem (1661)
    10.2. Punishing Women who Brawl (1690)
    10.3. Deception, Social Climbing . . . and Death (1697)
    10.4. Frustrated Lovers Separated by Convent Walls (1585)
    10.5. Close Call: A Near-Execution for Sodomy (1667)
    10.6. Preparing for Execution
    10.7. The Execution of Two Nobles (1568)
    10.8. The Theatre of Execution in Rome (1581)
    10.9. Ritual Execution of an Alleged Rapist and Robber in Venice (1513)
    10.10. A Burning for Heresy
    10.11. The Galleys in Marseilles
    10.12. Appointment of an Executioner: Charles Sanson in Paris
    10.13. Diary of an Executioner: Franz Schmidt of Nuremburg
    10.14. Public Penance and Punishment in Spain – Heresy and Inquisition (1486)
    10.15. Confessions on the Scaffold (1700)

    11. Holy and Unholy: Mystics, Nuns, and Witches
    11.1. Men Enclosing Women Behind Convent Walls (1654)
    11.2. Nuns in the Reformation (1547)
    11.3. Trials of an Educated Nun (1682)
    11.4. Nuns Possessed in Loudon (1643)
    11.5. Nuns and Demons: Possession or Pretension? (1643)
    11.6. Authorizing the Witch-Hunt (1484)
    11.7. Why Become a Witch? (1486)
    11.8. Husband and Wife Witch Team
    11.9. Judgment on the Witch Walpurga Hausmannin (1587)
    11.10. Witchcraft as a Problem for Political Leaders (1580)
    11.11. A Miller Faces the Inquisition (1584-86)

    12. Living Apart Together: Jews, Muslims, and Christians
    12.1. Expelling the Jews from Spain: The Official Order (1492)
    12.2. Going into Exile: Iberian Jews around the Mediterranean (1495)
    12.3. A Jewish Ghetto in Southern France
    12.4. How to be a Practicing Muslim in a Catholic Country
    12.5. Living Undercover (1504)
    12.6. You are what you wear – or are you? (1567)
    12.7. Conversion: A Jew in Italy Converts to Christianity (1569)
    12.8. Doubting Conversion: The Spanish Inquisition Investigates a Morisco (1622)
    12.9. A Jewish Woman in Germany
    12.10. Targeting Refugees: The Dutch Threat to London (1593)
    12.11. Observing the Ottomans in Istanbul (1562)
    12.12. In Awe and Fear of “The Great Turk” (1601)
    12.13. Allowing the Jews to Return to England (1649)
    12.14. Toleration – or Conversion?
    12.15. The Jewish Community in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)

    13. Other Worlds: Migration and Emigration
    13.1. Black and White Enslaved Peoples in Africa (1600)
    13.2. Into India: Making Unfamiliar Worlds Familiar (1497)
    13.3. Into America: Unfamiliar Worlds and Peoples (1497)
    13.4. Tense Encounters: Early Portuguese Travelers in China
    13.5. Protesting Exploitation of Indigenous People (1552)
    13.6. An Immigrant Writes Home (1574)
    13.7. Encouraging Migration from New England to Jamaica (1656)
    13.8. A Portuguese Missionary’s First Impressions of Japan
    13.9. A Young Black Nobleman in the British Empire

    14. Danger, Disease, and Death
    14.1. Death on the Road: The Dangers of Travel (1550s)
    14.2. How to Survive into Old Age (1683)
    14.3. Death of a Jewish Rabbi (1509)
    14.4. Fighting Plague (1541)
    14.5. Stealing Bodies From the Grave (1554)
    14.6. Visitors from beyond Death (1572)
    14.7. Muslim and Jewish Rituals around Death and Burial in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)

  • Read An Excerpt

    1 How to Read a Primary Source

    This section helps students recognize different kinds of primary sources—diaries, letters, laws, poems, and so on—and think about how these sources are written for different purposes and audiences. It introduces the idea of reading with a few critical questions in mind: who wrote a piece, what it is, why it was written, who it was written to or for, when it was written, and what it says. Students learn what kinds of information to expect from different kinds of sources and how to read those sources critically.

    Every time we write a note, a message, a list, or an essay we have someone in mind that we are writing to. It may be hundreds or thousands of friends on social media, or a couple of teachers or professors for an essay, or an employer for a report, or a single person for a private card or letter. We may even write to ourselves, with a quickly scrawled shopping list, or a note reminding us of things we need to do today, or a diary of what we actually did. Sometimes we write to persuade our reader, sometimes to record our likes or dislikes, and sometimes to express private things we don’t want or expect anyone else to read. Our writing may be “official” or personal; it may be public or private; it may be something we want the world to remember or something we want everyone to forget.

    We change the tone of what we write depending on who we are writing to, when we are writing, and what we are writing for. With public writing, we know that readers will get a sense of who we are through what we write, so we think more about the impact of what we write: What do we want to tell our readers? What details have to be included? If some group that we are part of appoints us to write something on behalf of the group—a petition, a set of rules, minutes of a meeting, or a report on an event—then we may be less personal and more formal in what we write. We may think more about reporting fairly and clearly, and may even have to include some views of the group that we don’t personally share. When we write privately, that seldom happens—we are free to write what we think and feel. But do we always do that? What we share with a parent or grandparent will be different from what we share with someone we love—or someone we hate. We may hide some things we don’t want them to know, or exaggerate other things if we want to please or impress them. Whether we write publicly or privately, we know that those who read us will get some sense of who we are.

    People living in Europe in the early modern period, roughly 1500–1700, wrote for much the same purposes and in much the same way. They argued, boasted, and bragged. They recorded details carefully or made them up entirely. They wrote what they believed to be true or what they knew to be false. They wrote letters, diaries, rules, proposals, newspaper reports, stories, and poems. Reading what they wrote opens a window into what they thought about—what worried them or excited them or amazed them about each other and about their world. These are the people whose daily lives made up the history we study. A letter from a woman in Peru to her brother in Spain trying to convince him to take the long voyage to join her. A midwife giving advice on how to conceive a boy or girl and how to have a healthy pregnancy. A young student on his way to university who has to think quickly to avoid getting beaten up and robbed. A lawyer giving instructions to judges on how to prosecute a witch. A mother telling her son who he must marry, or a son telling his mother why he married the girl he loved instead. A dying father leaving instructions on how he wants his children to be raised, or a guardian making promises on how he will care for an orphan.

    Reading these letters, wills, and diaries narrows the distance between early modern people and ourselves, because we see that sometimes they expressed hopes and fears that we can easily identify with. Sometimes it does the opposite, as when we read medical advice about how to keep our bodies cool by eating chicken or hot by choosing cabbage. We have to read carefully so that we don’t misunderstand things that seem very close to our own experience or misinterpret things that seem very different.
    If we read with a few questions in mind, we can get more out of reading documents written a few hundred years ago:

    • Who was writing it?
    • Who was reading it?
    • Why was it written?
    • When was it written?
    • What does it say?

    As we play with these questions, and go back and forth from one to the other, we will find that each casts a bit of light on the others. What may seem like simple words on a page can take on different meaning if they are written by a woman or a man, if they are written for a child or an adult, if they are written to persuade the reader to do something, or if they are written to report on what others have done. And while today we avoid plagiarism, many early moderns embraced it—some of the authors here borrowed freely from other authors, and sometimes from other languages, often without acknowledgment. This makes critical reading all the more complicated and all the more necessary.

    Some sources offer advice, set down rules, or advocate a course of action; since they prescribe actions, we often call these prescriptive. Medical treatises, laws, sermons, and advice literature all count as prescriptive examples. Other sources offer accounts of events that have taken place; since they describe actions, we often call these descriptive. Court records, letters, diaries, and chronicles are examples of descriptive writings. But not all documents fall neatly into these two categories: A mother writing a letter to her son will move back and forth from description to prescription as she gives news about a sibling and advice about a cold. A doctor writing a medical treatise may offer advice about childbirth that combines dictates from the respected Islamic authority Avicenna with eye-witness experiences of a local midwife. And even within these categories, we have to read critically with an eye and ear to who is writing and why. A court reporter’s transcript of an interrogation may not overtly show how an illiterate peasant defendant is awed or cowed by the learned magistrates posing their questions. The voice of the accused was filtered initially through the learned judicial system and is filtered again in our modern translations. When we read that transcript in modern English, we have to work to pick up the subtle differences between questions asked in formal French, German, or Spanish (or Latin) and answers given in the simple vernacular or local dialect of 500 years ago. And on it goes: Pamphlets and chronicles that reported news from the period almost never presented facts objectively, but instead had propagandistic purposes. The more questions we ask about these passages, the closer we come to understanding their different levels of meaning.

    The more levels of meaning we recognize, the better we understand how these sources uncover lives that were often quite different from—or surprisingly similar to—our own. What foods we eat and why; how we fall in love and whether we marry; what reactions we may have to those from other cultures, cities, or social classes, and how our views and values will then shape whether we help, punish, embrace, or flee the other—all of these experiences are also found in the sources here. Reading them challenges us to see with the eyes of those who wrote them and to understand their world from the inside: Why did so many people fear witches? How did men understand women, and vice versa? What was fair, or just, or good? Looking at these issues as they looked at them helps us understand the societies they built. Each document fits into a larger picture or view of the world.

    That view of the world extended beyond sight and the other four senses. It extended beyond birth and death. Early modern people had a strong sense of the universe as a place powered by forces and spirits. They believed in a God who created and sustained this universe, who knew them, and who held them accountable both for what they did and for what they let their neighbours do. The readings here aim to open windows onto Christian, Jewish, and Muslim experiences, and to show how much of daily life was shaped by a strong sense that all actions by individuals, families, and societies would either please or anger God.

    Who, what, when, where, and why. One question informs another, and as you go back and forth between them you may find that a document says the opposite of what you first thought. Don’t be frustrated—take this as a challenge and maybe even a mystery. The more carefully you train your ear with these questions, the more clearly you will hear the voices of those behind these letters, diaries, laws, and treatises, and the better you will understand the world that they made.