This book is a detailed history of the economic, educational and religious life of three contrasting communities, Chippenham, Orwell and Willingham in Cambridgeshire from 1525 to 1700. The three villages had very difference economic settings, in which the pattern of landholding changed over this period and the general and particular reasons for the changes that took place. The study also covers the educational opportunities open to the villagers, and examines religious affairs, the effect on peasant communities of the Reformation and the disturbance in the devotional life of the ordinary villager, which often culminated in dissent and disruption under the Commonwealth. Dr Spufford has penetrated into the social life of the English village at all levels, and with fascinating detail has created a whole social universe around her villagers or a 'picture in the round' view. The book will be invaluable to economic, social, and ecclesiastical historians of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as historians of Britain generally, and those with a special interest in Cambridgeshire.
'This is a seminal book.' Christopher Hill, Literature and Society 'A book which often comes close to attaining the ideal of an historical controlled experiment, in which the theories of the textbooks are carefully tested against historical experience. The first section ... should become required reading for all social and economic historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ... I suspect that everyone who reads this book will learn something valuable from it, whatever his particular interests.' Roger Schofield 'The demographic sections of this book are instructive, the economic and social interesting and informative, and the educational ones revelatory, but most readers will probably be drawn more to the ecclesiastical and religious ones.' Eric Kerridge, Journal of Ecclesiastical History