Tired of reading books about kings and queens, the rich and famous? Fed up with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn? The lives of ordinary people are just as tragic, difficult, triumphant and revelationary. How your ancestors survived the traumas and difficulties that life threw at them is surely more interesting. The diseases, doctors and treatments, their toil, their brushes with authority and justice, their rights and freedoms, their food and cooking, their clothes and washing, shopping, entertainment and every other aspect of their lives must be compared with our lives today.
A troll through the 100 or so books mentioned in the Christmas edition of BBC History magazine would tell you otherwise – no social history whatsoever – unless you are black. From Byron to Chaucer from Richard III to Hitler, the books of 2020 are all about the people who are NOT in your family tree!
For a totally different take on history we are exploring the lives of ordinary people. Using documents and the surviving buildings we are telling their stories – what offences they committed, how the courts dealt with them, how their houses were destroyed and moved, how they were paid, how they worked, teenage pregnancy, what the doctor could do for them, what taxes they paid, how those in need were treated, how they cooked and ate, how they tried to improve their conditions, how their children were treated, what the church meant to them, what they were paid for catching vermin…. and the thousand other affects on how they lived.
There can be no doubt that the ordinary people have been oppressed at least since the Norman conquest by their masters and the political system, how they fought for improvements is an enlightening story for us today
Why not join us to find out more. If you are not hooked on history already, you may be soon. Be warned – the excitement of research is addictive!