Until recently the study of the past was almost exclusively concerned with the history of the ruling class. The history of the people who were ruled was either ignored or seen through the medium of documents produced by and for the state and the establishment. Grassroots history - history from below - is not simply the history of movements, revolts and struggle, but is more fundamentally concerned with the lives and aspirations of the common people - rich and poor alike - in the different periods of the past. In this volume of specially commissioned essays some of the pioneers of grassroots history and their successors examine approaches to the subject in the context of specific periods and events. Topics discussed range from why it was that serious political thinkers of the 17th century, including some of the most radical, could not see that the poor were real people, a review of the lives of the Caribbean pirates and an exposition of the atavistic ambitions of the Scottish Covenanters, to the problems in uncovering the truth about ordinary people in the past. This collection aims to provide a contribution to the understanding of the history of men and women in Europe between the 17th century and the present.
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