Early Modern Italy: A Social History is a fascinating survey of society in Italy from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century – from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.
The early modern period was an exciting phase in the history of Italy, with the emergence of great artists, sculptors and architects and the flowering of culture generally. However, during this period Italy was not one coherent political unit, but was divided into many different states. Such divisions affected the population economically, socially and linguistically, but this social history considers patterns across these divisions, and contrasts within states.
Early Modern Italy covers the whole of the Italian peninsula from the Venetian Republic, Milan and Florence to Rome, Naples and the rural Italy of Calabria and Campagna. It spans a multitude of themes, including:
the effects of geography on population and social developments
the relationship between urban and rural Italy
land systems, agriculture and rural communities
urban society from professionals and artisans to pedlars and prostitutes
the family and the household
the church and religious life
Early Modern Italy is crucial to the understanding of the diversity, conflicts and incompatibilities from the past that still affect the stability and fragility of united Italy today.
Christopher F. Black is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Glasgow. He is author of Italian Confraternities in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989).