The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730

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This book investigates the changing historical culture in England between the beginning of the sixteenth century and the early eighteenth century. Based on a wide variety of manuscript and printed sources from local and central repositories, it focuses on the social framework within which historical knowledge was generated, modified, and preserved, rather than on historiography or historical method. Woolf begins his study by examining the ways in which early modern people acclimatized themselves to accelerating changes in their physical, social, religious, and economic environments. A developing, if uneasy, accommodation to change went hand in hand with shifting attitudes to the acceptability of novelty and innovation. The family was the central social unit throughout most of this time, and Woolf examines views of ancestry and heredity with a particular emphasis on the circulation of genealogical knowledge and its status relative to other forms of knowledge about the past. The third part