Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720

God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720

Brodie Waddell
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720
    Book Description:

    The English economy underwent profound changes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, yet the worldly affairs of ordinary people continued to be shaped as much by traditional ideals and moral codes as by material conditions. This book explores the economic implications of many of the era's key concepts, including Christian stewardship, divine providence, patriarchal power, paternal duty, local community, and collective identity. Brodie Waddell draws on a wide range of contemporary sources - from ballads and pamphlets to pauper petitions and guild regulations - to show that such ideas pervaded every aspect of social and economic relations during this crucial period. Previous discussions of English economic life have tended to ignore or dismiss the influence of cultural factors. By contrast, Waddell argues that popular beliefs about divine will, social duty and communal bonds remained the frame through which most people viewed vital 'earthly' concerns such as food marketing, labour relations, trade policy, poor relief, and many others. This innovative study, demonstrating both the vibrancy and the diversity of the 'moral economies' of the later Stuart period, represents a significant contribution to our understanding of early modern society. It will be essential reading for all early modern British economic and cultural historians. Brodie Waddell is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He has published on preaching, local government, the landscape and other aspects of early modern society.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-038-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Conventions
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    The ‘solidness’ of what John Bunyan called ‘types, shadows and metaphors’ is too rarely contemplated by scholars attempting to understand the history of economic life.¹ This is especially true of historians studying the early modern period, a time when everyone, irrespective of status or locale, was surrounded by moralised representations of work, markets, wealth, and other worldly affairs. These images and ideas circulated in a variety of forms, including daily conversation, written correspondence, cheap printed works, religious instruction, state proclamation, or any number of equally widespread ‘texts’.² But whatever their shape, they framed the way in which men and women...

  8. 1 God’s Will: Judgement, Providence, and the Prayers of the Poor
    (pp. 25-84)

    For faithful Christians, there could be no doubt that God was a sovereign whose dominion encompassed both this world and the next. The dire fate that awaited dying sinners was well known, but it was also clear that he might intervene directly or indirectly in human affairs. God overthrew popish tyrants, foiled assassins, smote murderers, and burned great cities to the ground.¹ And this vengeful, interventionist deity also had a role to play in dealings that modern commentators might regard as purely economic. God ordained society’s vast inequalities in wealth, rewarded the industrious poor and the charitable rich, punished ruthless...

  9. 2 Oeconomical Duties: Patriarchy, Paternalism, and Petitioning
    (pp. 85-148)

    No institution had as many functions in early modern society as the household. It was, of course, the birthplace and nursery for each new generation. It competed with the school, the church, and the alehouse as a site of learning, worshipping, and socialising. And it served as a metaphor for a variety of other social relationships, political hierarchies, religious beliefs, and ecclesiastical systems. Hence, given its central place in the social and cultural landscape, it would be impossible to overlook the influence of the household on English economic life. In both practice and theory, the later Stuart economy depended on...

  10. 3 Communal Bonds: Solidarity, Alterity, and Collective Action
    (pp. 149-226)

    Belonging to a community – whether local, political, occupational or religious – was a vital part of ‘making-shift’ in early modern England. To be a ‘neighbour’ or ‘citizen’, rather than a ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, had a profound effect on one’s economic situation. Likewise, gaining settlement in a parish or earning admission to a trade brought with it a range of important rights and privileges, whereas being officially branded as a ‘vagrant’ or ‘intruder’ could have dire consequences. All these economic communities were, in a sense, ‘imagined’, but they nonetheless had a potent influence on the dynamics of production and exchange.¹...

  11. Conclusion: Rethinking Economic Culture
    (pp. 227-232)

    This book is intended to contribute to the process of reconfiguring the way we think about early modern economic relations. As I have shown, the most popular of our current methods are deeply flawed and the conclusions that they have produced are often unsustainable. Much of the existing historiography has failed to adequately acknowledge the importance of cultural norms. Specifically, profound problems have arisen from methodologies that assume the primacy of material concerns in economic relations and the tendency of previous scholars to reduce the history of this issue to a conflict between ‘the moral economy’ and ‘the market economy’....

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-262)
  13. Index
    (pp. 263-274)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-277)