Master Values of Town Life

  • David Gary Shaw
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In social history, actors without ideas are empty, just as ideas without actors are blind. This chapter tries to construct some of the cultural assumptions of the later medieval town in order to fill up some of its actors and give sight to its ideas.This attempt to examine part of the cultural habitus, to extract the common mind from nonlocal sources, requires only a little justification, for while we can never be sure without examination that ‘elite’ ideas have a direct and large impact on popular notions, historians have for a long time made important use of such materials. The social self demands it, for this is the concrete acknowledgment that consciousness matters, that people have ideas upon which they draw when making their decisions. This does not mean that there are not considerable difficulties in trying to determine what the sources tell us and how far we repeat the goals of the dominant in repeating their texts. But from Sylvia Thrupp through Rodney Hilton and Philippa Maddern to Fifteenth-Century Attitudes and Marjorie McIntosh’s Controlling Misbehavior in England, medieval historians have helped to display the mind of the matter in ways that allow us to see better what it all meant.1


Fifteenth Century Religious Trust Malicious Peer Canterbury Tale Medieval Historian 


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© David Gary Shaw 2005

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  • David Gary Shaw

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