Worlds within Worlds: The Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century Steve Rappaport

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  • Worlds within Worlds: The Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century London. by SteveRappaportReview by: S. J. WattsThe Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer, 1990), pp. 274-276Published by: The Sixteenth Century JournalStable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 20:14

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  • 274 The Sixteenth Century Journal

    II in France, Mary was queen consort there for a year (the book jacket says 13 years) before returning to her birthplace as a widow in 1561.

    There she alienated the Reformed clergy by her religion and morals; married twice more, unhappily each time; bore a son who became James VI on her deposition by the nobility in 1567; fled to England, and in 1568 inexplicably delivered herself into the hands of her cousin Elizabeth I (to whose throne she had a claim as a legitimate descendent of Henry VII), a captivity ended only by her execution in 1587, at the age of 44.

    This is not a biography, but it deals rather with selected aspects and episodes of Mary's life in France, Scotland and England, including one chapter on her library. The Reformation in Scotland, perhaps surprisingly, gets only scattered references, but a whole section is given to Counter-Reformation prospects. Readers who come to this book with no historical knowledge may find themselves overwhelmed: this is a very tightly written book of impressive scholarship, punctuated by more than 900 footnotes, and at the end, ten pages of bibliography.

    We see how the many-faceted Mary loved hunting, dancing, and card-playing; was lachrymose, cultured (even to the extent of leading a minor literary revival); politically expedient even at the expense of Catholicism; yet at times lacking commonsense and showing no great expertise as a plotter. 'Any real danger to Elizabeth's position seems to have vanished after 1569, but Mary's imprisonment for complex reasons served Elizabeth's purposes in her dealings with forces in all three kingdoms. It would appear also that Mary had no chance of acceptance back into Scotland after 1570. Her love-life there had been so chaotic and irregular that on her execution only politically opportunist Catholics hailed her as a martyr, suggesting she was more sinned against than sinning.

    Mary was nonetheless an involuntary participant in a whole chain of events that ultimately led to the English-Scottish union under her son in 1603. Michael Lynch suggests we will fail to understand Mary unless we see in her a Stewart and a Valois queen rather than an English pretender or a Guise. Even viewed in that light Mary is still something of an enigmatic figure about whom this book throws up some percipient questions. Perhaps not all of them are answerable. James D. Douglas .... ......... Singapore Bible College

    Worlds Within Worlds: The Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century London. Steve Rappaport. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989. 449 pp. $54.50

    In 1977, Frank F. Foster (The Politics of Stability: A Portrait of the Rulers in Elizabethan London) convincingly demonstrated that the key to the apparent stability of London during the half century when it grew from 90,000 inhabitants (1558) to 250,000 (1605) lay in the fact that its community of rulers - 26 aldermen, 212 common councilmen and a handful of bureaucrats - all shared an ideology of governance which had emerged in the high middle ages. They believed that the whole of the citizen body should be ruled as if it were a harmonious, hierarchically arranged community. The only people who would dissent from this ideology were morally depraved non-citizens who should be brutalized or driven out of the city: everybody else conformed. Though a high proportion of London's sixteenth century

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  • Book Reviews XXI / 2 275

    rulers were not born in the city (a point which Rappaport makes as well), it was in London rather than in any rural country seat that members of the ruling oligarchy found the center of their identity and lives. Men (never of course women) were coopted into the city's ruling elite. Those chosen through the media of managed elections at the ward level were picked because of their wealth, status and London connections, and more importantly, because they had already demonstrated that they fully accepted the ruling oligarchy's corporate ideals. In all this the rulers of sixteenth century London, as portrayed by Foster, were not much different from the rulers of sixteenth century continental cities such as Nuremberg as portrayed by Gerald Strauss.

    Steve Rappaport had deliberately rejected this approach and instead sees ideology as a mere superstructure, a reflection of, rather than a cause of sixteenth century London's stability. He also takes severely to task historians such as Paul Slack, Peter Clark, A. L. Beier, W. G. Hoskins, and others who perhaps subconsciously tainted by yesteryear's concern about social justice have categorized early modern London without and within the walls as a seething cauldron of discontents born of gross inequalities of wealth and power and of the ossified privileges held by the oligarchical community of rulers in the central city. Rappaport's own subconscious guiding presuppositions would appear to be based on the not entirely mythical experience of nineteenth and twentieth-century America, seen as the land of opportunity for those migrants who survived the initial rigors of life in the new land. So too, sixteenth-century London (within the walls: the 100,000 people living in 1600 in out parishes which lay beyond the jurisdiction of the City's rulers are excluded from his study) is made to appear to be a city of opportunity and of upward social mobility. According to Rappaport's calculations, the odds were seven to one that a man who survived the rigors of seven years as an apprentice in a London company (and thus became a freeman and citizen) as well as his years as journeyman wage laborer would eventually become a householder with his own shop. Similarly, according to Rappaport, the odds were three to one that a hardworking, long-lived, and presumably compliant survivor would in time be allowed to enter the ranks of his company as a full liveryman. Yet Rappaport's figures also show that three out of five young men who began their career as apprentices never finished out their seven year term, either because of early death, or of flight from the rigors of London life.

    Rappaport's book is based upon many years of research in the primary records generated by sixteenth century London's livery companies, twelve of which dominated the commanding heights of the economy and political power in the City within the walls. His data base centers on the careers of 1000 men, 530 of whom became citizens of London and members of livery companies in the early 1550s. One of his initial concerns is to demonstrate that citizenship was a commonly achieved goal. We are told that by mid-century "approximately three-quarters of London's men were freemen"; citizenship was thus no longer the prerogative of a privileged majority (p. 49). By men, he means males over the age of 26; by and large women were excluded from the privileges of citizenship. Obviously none of the adult males in the population of 100,000 living in the built up area outside the jurisdiction of the ruling oligarchy would become citizens. By way of contrast, Foster suggested that by the early 1630s, perhaps 40 percent of London's population were freemen or their dependents.

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  • 276 The Sixteenth Century Journal

    In one of his more interesting chapters accompanied by several useful tables, Rappaport discusses the standards of living of late sixteenth century Londoners. By choosing his figures carefully (this after all is a study of cleometrics), he is able to demonstrate that real income levels deteriorated far less during the inflationary years after c.1550 than was previously thought. Even during the crisis years 1594-97, sensible Londoners were able to substitute cheaper foods for their normal diet without loss of calories. Wives and children who presumably earlier had been sitting around idle went out to work, and thus were able to maintain the equilibrium of household economies.

    Readers of this journal might expect from the title of this book Worlds Within Worlds, to learn something about the role of religious confraternities in city life in the years before the Reformation, and of the role played by the parish after that cluster of events. In this they will be dissapointed. Instead they will find that this is a book written almost solely from the point of view of the great livery companies and of the company men who were successful in their quest for upward social mobility.

    S. J. Watts ...... Brown University

    Huldrych Zwingli et le Zwinglianisme: Essai de Synthese Historique et Theolgique mis a Jour d'Apres les Recherches Recentes. J. V. Pollet. Paris: Libraire Philosophique, J. Vrin, 1988. 444 pp. 210 F. Pollet is well qualified for producing this important work. His early interest

    in Zwingli dates back to 1951 in a work which appeared in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique and is reprinted as the first section of this volume. In 1962 Pollet's continued research and interest was published in Zwingli e la Reforme en Swisse. Pollet's background in Latin and Catholic theology, his grasp of humanism and his extensive research has given him an advantageous foundation for the study of the many facets of the Reformation and particularly the key figure, Zwingli. The more Pollet has delved into the early Reformation and Zwingli's role in it, the more he came to realize there are many gaps that need to be filled in. With Ernest G. Ruesch, Pollet agrees that much needs to be done in the study of Zwingli before scholars have the same insights and perspectives that benefit and surround the current study of Calvin and Luther. Not only is there a paucity in the study of the development of Zwingli's theological evolution, but there are also a number of inaccurate conceptions that have appeared in print. In this book, Pollet has begun to rectify the situation by evaluating Zwinglian research and views, citing as many as 378 authors; and in the process, stating his own position with clarity and confidence as he agrees or disagrees with the corpus of Zwinglian research. The result is a comprehensive volume that serves as a source and reference work as well as a historiographical summary that is now essential for all Zwinglian studies.

    Pollet accepts the fine work of Oskar Farner as found in his definitive life of Zwingli; thus in this book by Pollet, only a chronological table of the main events in Zwingli's life is given. The emphasis is upon the evolution, role, place of Zwingli in the Reformation and to that end, Pollet marshals the research of scholars to not only present a comprehensive view of the opinions but also to winnow out the chaff so that the solid kernels of truth are preserved. Key influences upon Zwingli

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    Article Contentsp. 274p. 275p. 276

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer, 1990), pp. 151-355Front Matter [pp. ]Telling the Story: G. R. Elton and the Tudor Age [pp. 151-169]War and the Commonwealth in Mid-Tudor England [pp. 170-192]"These Griping Greefes and Pinching Pangs": Attitudes to Childbirth in Thomas Bentley's The Monument of Matrones (1582) [pp. 193-203]How to Detect a Clandestine Minority: The Example of the Waldenses [pp. 205-216]Hebrew Bible Translation and the Fear of Judaization [pp. 217-233]Warfare with the Spirit's Sword: The Christian Knight Window at Gouda [pp. 235-257]Erratum: "Thomas Muntzer's Vincidation and Refutation: A Language for the Common People?" [pp. 258]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 259-260]Review: untitled [pp. 261-263]Review: untitled [pp. 263]Review: untitled [pp. 264-266]Review: untitled [pp. 266]Review: untitled [pp. 267-268]Review: untitled [pp. 269]Review: untitled [pp. 269-271]Review: untitled [pp. 271-272]Review: untitled [pp. 272-273]Review: untitled [pp. 273-274]Review: untitled [pp. 274-276]Review: untitled [pp. 276-277]Review: untitled [pp. 277-278]Review: untitled [pp. 278-279]Review: untitled [pp. 279-281]Review: untitled [pp. 281-282]Review: untitled [pp. 282-283]Review: untitled [pp. 283-284]Review: untitled [pp. 284-286]Review: untitled [pp. 286]Review: untitled [pp. 286-288]Review: untitled [pp. 288]Review: untitled [pp. 288-290]Review: untitled [pp. 290-291]Review: untitled [pp. 291-292]Review: untitled [pp. 292-293]Review: untitled [pp. 293-294]Review: untitled [pp. 295]Review: untitled [pp. 296-297]Review: untitled [pp. 297-298]Review: untitled [pp. 298-299]Review: untitled [pp. 299-300]Review: untitled [pp. 300-302]Review: untitled [pp. 302-303]Review: untitled [pp. 303-304]Review: untitled [pp. 304-305]Review: untitled [pp. 305-306]Review: untitled [pp. 307]Review: untitled [pp. 308-309]Review: untitled [pp. 309-310]Review: untitled [pp. 310-311]Review: untitled [pp. 312-313]Review: untitled [pp. 313-314]Review: untitled [pp. 314-315]Review: untitled [pp. 315-316]Review: untitled [pp. 317-318]Review: untitled [pp. 318-319]Review: untitled [pp. 319-320]Review: untitled [pp. 320-321]Review: untitled [pp. 321-323]Review: untitled [pp. 323-324]Review: untitled [pp. 324-325]Review: untitled [pp. 325-326]Review: untitled [pp. 326-328]Review: untitled [pp. 328-329]Review: untitled [pp. 329-330]Review: untitled [pp. 330-331]Review: untitled [pp. 331-332]Review: untitled [pp. 33...