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Excepting the Aristocratical

Ian Gilmour, 23 March 1995

Marriage, Debt and the Estates System: English Landownership 1650-1950 
by John Habakkuk.
Oxford, 786 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820398 5
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... wisdom to laymen. From about the middle of the 17th century to the end of the 19th, as Sir John Habakkuk, who thinks more kindly of the legal profession than Hogg and Godwin, shows in his massive and compelling account of English land-ownership over three hundred years, the most common of the ‘entails created’ by the lawyers was the strict ...

Light on a rich country

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 June 1982

The Population History of England 1541-1871: A Reconstruction 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Schofield.
Edward Arnold, 779 pp., £45, October 1981, 0 7131 6264 3
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... not dictated by the needs and resources of a local economy. Some thirteen years ago I watched Sir John Habakkuk at a conference sketch out on the board how a drop in the average age of marriage in 1740 of two years, maintained throughout the rest of the century, would explain the whole expansion of 18th-century population in England: but everyone agreed ...


Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 19 August 2010

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... on Germany in 1990, Trevor-Roper faced her down and tore her arguments to pieces. The historian John Habakkuk was an editor of Economic History Review in 1952 when Trevor-Roper’s onslaught against R.H. Tawney landed on his desk. He mused: ‘I find it difficult to decide whether T-R is a fundamentally nice person in the grip of a prose style in which ...

Where’s Esther?

Robert Alter: The Dead Sea Scrolls, 12 September 2013

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography 
by John Collins.
Princeton, 272 pp., £16.95, October 2012, 978 0 691 14367 5
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The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea 
by Joan Taylor.
Oxford, 418 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 19 955448 5
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... text of the Book of Isaiah, a sectarian manual of discipline and a commentary on the prophet Habakkuk. During the next few years, excavations were conducted in adjacent caves. In the end, some nine hundred manuscripts were unearthed in various states of legibility or decomposition, together with an abundance of discrete fragments. It is estimated that ...

The Last War of Religion

David Armitage, 9 June 1994

The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832: Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 404 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 521 44510 8
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The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. I 
edited by Bernard Bailyn.
Library of America, 1214 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 940450 42 9
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... of Europe, notably Britain, the American Revolution may still be unfinished. Looking back in 1818, John Adams asked a fundamental question: ‘But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people; a change in their religious ...

Rancorous Old Sod

Colin Burrow: Homage to Geoffrey Hill, 20 February 2014

Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 973 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 19 960589 7
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... circles around Donatello, counterpointing the ‘half-crazed/Asceticism’ of his sculpture of Habakkuk with moments from Florentine history. The death of William Lawes during the siege of Chester in 1645 is the centre around which Clavics eccentrically cranks, allowing Lawes’s name to prompt meditations on the death of laws (lower-case) and the atrophy ...

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