For the rural societies of Germany the early sixteenth century was a time of massive upheavals. In this probing study of village life, based upon rich manuscript sources from the old County of Hohenlohe, Thomas Robisheaux seeks to understand how petty German princes, Lutheran pastors, and villagers struggled to create order out of their confusing world. The Hohenlohe region experienced all of the turmoil associated with the sixteenth century, including a peasant near-rising in 1600, the brutal effects of the wage-price scissors, chronic shortages of land, famines, impoverishment, and the destructive cycles of war. By using concepts borrowed from anthropology, Professor Robisheaux looks for the way social hierarchy and discipline countered the disruptive changes of the age. The years between 1550 and 1620 saw new sources of stability and order created in the family; through systematized customs of inheritance; through market relationships; and in the practice of state power within the village.
"Thomas Robisheaux provides a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on what has until very recently been a rather neglected period of German history--that between the the Peace of Augsburg and the Thirty Years' War. His meticulously researched and gracefully written book examines rural life in the small patrimonial estate of Hohenlohe in southwest Germany from roughly 1500 to 1680, with special emphasis on the period 1550 to 1620. Using an enviable variety of sources, Robisheaux both tests the theories of other historians regarding peasants and other rural groups and develops his own. The author uses a good blend of statistics, narrative, and analysis, and includes a chapter-by-chapter bibliographic essay rather than a standard bibliography." Merry E. Wiesner, The Sixteenth Century Journal