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Centralisation

Peter Burke

5 March 1981
State and Society in Europe 1550-1650 
by Victor Kiernan.
Blackwell, 309 pp., £12, December 1980, 0 226 47080 6
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... Every student and every teacher knows the importance of the ‘seminal article’, which packs into a few pages more ideas than many books. In the field of European history, one such article was ‘Foreign Mercenaries and Absolute Monarchy’, published in 1957 by Victor Kiernan. Professor Kiernan has many historical interests, and he moved on to The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History (1966), and The Lords of Human Kind (1969), a discussion of 19th-century European attitudes to the rest of the world ...
6 November 1980
Politics in Renaissance Venice 
by Robert Finlay.
Benn, 336 pp., £13.95, June 1980, 0 510 00085 1
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... While the Athenians, Spartans and Romans did not survive for more than six hundred years, this Republic has lasted for more than a thousand, because it was founded by Christians and given the most excellent laws in the name of Christ.’ So wrote the 16th-century Venetian diarist, Marin Sanudo, about his native city. Venetians believed that their republican regime had the secret of eternal life, and they persuaded others to believe this too ...

Fallen Idols

David A. Bell

23 July 1992
The Fabrication of Louis XIV 
by Peter Burke.
Yale, 242 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 300 05153 0
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... harder than their English counterparts to win lasting admiration. The efforts of Louis XIV, which Peter Burke chronicles in his new book, were truly staggering, even by the standards of Early Modern monarchy. Images of the King were commissioned, Burke recounts, in ...

Medieval Dreams

Peter Burke

4 June 1981
Time, Work and Culture in the Middle Ages 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Chicago, 384 pp., £13.50, January 1981, 0 226 47080 6
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... did not fit into traditional pigeon-holes must be up to no good. The same idea seems to underlie Peter Abelard’s bold attempt, discussed by Le Goff in another essay, to assimilate university teachers to knights, describing arguments as weapons and disputations as battles or tournaments. He was trying to legitimate his own profession and incidentally to ...

Flattery

Peter Burke

16 September 1982
Le Roi-Machine: Spectacle et Politique au Temps de Louis XIV 
by Jean-Marie Apostolidès.
Les Editions de Minuit, 164 pp., £4.50
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Le Portrait du Roi 
by Louis Marin.
Les Editions de Minuit, 300 pp., £5.60
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... What was Racine’s strategy here? It is perhaps a pity that Marin did not follow the lead of Peter France and discuss the tension in Racine (or Boileau) between loyalty and independence, the strategies of criticism or self-defence as well as the strategies of praise. Such an approach would free him from the danger of reductionism. There remains the ...

Good History

Christopher Hill

5 March 1981
After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... science, crammed with all the riches of the past and of the future.’ And so we move on to Peter Burke, whose book ‘is written for, as well as about, both sociologists and historians’. He defines sociology as ‘the study of human society, with the emphasis on generalising about its structure. History may be defined as the study of human ...
7 November 1991
The Golden Age of Painting in Spain 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 330 pp., £39.95, January 1991, 0 300 04760 6
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Spanish Paintings of the 15th through 19th Centuries 
by Jonathan Brown and Richard Mann.
National Gallery of Art, Washington/Cambridge, 165 pp., £50, April 1991, 0 521 40107 0
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... I Judge that Spain is a pious mother to foreigners and a very cruel stepmother to her own native sons,’ complained the 17th-century painter Jusepe de Ribera, a Valencian who spent most of his career working in Naples. This variation on the theme of the prophet without honour in his own country will doubtless strike a chord for many writers and artists today, from Australia to Brazil ...

Aliens

Peter Burke

18 March 1982
The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought 
by John Friedman.
Harvard, 268 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 58652 2
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Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain 
by William Christian.
Princeton, 349 pp., £16.80, September 1981, 9780691053264
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... India and parts of Ethiopia teem with marvels,’ wrote Pliny in his Natural History. ‘The Gymnosophists stay standing from sunrise to sunset, gazing at the sun with eyes unmoving, and continue all day long standing first on one foot and then on the other in the glowing sand. Megasthenes states that … there is a tribe of human beings with dogs’ heads, who wear a covering of wild beasts’ skins, whose speech is barking … Ktesias describes a tribe of men called Sciopods (Umbrella-Feet), because in the hotter weather they lie on their backs on the ground and protect themselves with the shadow of their feet ...
2 April 1981
The First Moderns: The Architects of the Eighteenth Century 
by Joseph Rykwert.
M.I.T., 585 pp., £27.50, September 1980, 0 262 18090 1
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... To omit architecture from cultural history would be absurd, but to integrate architecture, with its peculiar blend of abstraction, fantasy and technology, into a general history of culture is considerably more difficult than integrating images and texts. Where they are not obvious, utilitarian or problem-solving, the intentions of architects are remarkably hard to pin down ...
18 April 1985
The Thirty Years’ War 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Routledge, 340 pp., £20, January 1985, 0 7100 9788 3
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... is a strong one, including as it does Bonney on France, Elliott on Spain, Evans on Central Europe, Petersen on Denmark, Roberts on Sweden, and so on. These contributions, which amount to about 40 per cent of the whole, are signed, but they are fitted so neatly into the grand design that the result is a book and not just a collection of essays by various ...
7 July 1988
Galileo: Heretic 
by Pietro Redondi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £17.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9007 4
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... One of the most intriguing features of the dramatic clash between Galileo and the Holy Office of the Inquisition is its apparently endless capacity to generate new hypotheses about the aims of the protagonists and even the minor figures in the cast. What was Galileo himself trying to do? Was he simply a disinterested investigator of nature, a man of science who found himself involved in theological controversy, more or less by accident? Was he a committed Copernican, as fanatical in his own way as his ecclesiastical opponents? Or was he a devout Catholic with his own ideas about the direction in which the Church should move? What were the aims of the Inquisitors? Were they disinterested investigators of deviators from orthodoxy, whoever these turned out to be, or were they trying to trap Galileo? If the latter, was anyone encouraging them from behind the scenes? What was the role of the Pope in all this – the pro-intellectual Urban VIII, in whose time Galileo was condemned, and the anti-intellectual Paul V, in whose time he received his first warning? What was the role of the Jesuit cardinal Roberto Bellarmino? It seems fairly clear that in 1616 Galileo was enjoined not to hold the proposition that the Sun is in the centre of the universe, that in 1633 he was tried by the Roman Inquisition on a charge of ‘vehement suspicion of heresy’, and that he was condemned to indefinite imprisonment, later commuted to house arrest in his Tuscan villa ...
19 March 1981
People’s History and Socialist Theory 
edited by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 417 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 7100 0765 5
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British Labour History 
by E.H. Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.50, January 1981, 0 297 77785 8
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... could not bring himself to mention the actual occupation of so undignified a member of society. As Peter Burke points out in a friendly but sceptical contribution to People’s History and Socialist Theory, under such circumstances ‘people’s history’ was a contradiction in terms. We are a long way from Tacitus, upon whom time has taken its revenge ...
19 November 1981
Masters of the Reformation: The Emergence of a New Intellectual Life in Europe 
by Heiko Augustinus Oberman, translated by Dennis Martin.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £22.50, June 1981, 0 521 23098 5
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Montaigne 
by Peter Burke.
Oxford, 96 pp., £5.50, October 1981, 9780192875235
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... as modern as he looks’. In the 74 pages of his contribution to the ‘Past Masters’ series, Peter Burke has to select and condense. He writes clearly on the main topics: scepticism, religion, politics and so on. There is much good sense in this little book, which strives to be fair to opposing views. There are some errors: the prologue to Raimund ...

The Exotic West

Peter Burke

6 February 1986
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci 
by Jonathan Spence.
Faber, 350 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 571 13239 1
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Chine et Christianisme: Action et Réaction 
by Jacques Gernet.
Gallimard, 342 pp., frs 154, May 1982, 2 07 026366 5
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... The Ink Garden. The engravings – four exotic Western flowers in a Chinese garden – portray St Peter in the Waves; the road to Emmaus; the men of Sodom; and the Virgin and Child. The memory images comprise two warriors fighting; a Muslim woman from the west of China; a farmer, sickle in hand; and a maidservant who, like the Virgin, carries a child. The ...

Façades

Peter Burke

19 November 1981
The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History 
by Richard Goldthwaite.
Johns Hopkins, 459 pp., £16.50, April 1981, 0 8018 2342 0
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Public Life in Renaissance Florence 
by Richard Trexler.
Academic Press, 591 pp., £29.80, March 1981, 0 12 699550 8
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Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice 
by Edward Muir.
Princeton, 356 pp., £10.80, August 1981, 0 691 05325 1
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Venice: The Greatness and the Fall 
by John Julius Norwich.
Allen Lane, 400 pp., £12, September 1981, 0 7139 1409 2
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Ruskin and Venice 
edited by Jeanne Clegg.
Junction, 233 pp., £10.50, September 1981, 0 86245 019 5
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The Stones of Venice 
by John Ruskin and Jan Morris.
Faber, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 571 11815 1
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... as in its faults. It is generally accurate on points of detail, despite the confusion between two Peter Martyrs and the erroneous assumption that there was only one Compagnia della Calza – there were, in fact, scores of these noble dramatic societies. Lord Norwich writes a vigorous and fluent prose. He is unafraid of moral judgments and even personification ...

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