Thursday, January 10, 2013

German Villages in Crisis: Rural Life in Hesse-Kassel and the Thirty Years' War, 1580-1720

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was one of the greatest catastrophes ever to befall the German countryside. This book is a detailed study of how the people of the countryside experienced that war. It examines the village, the central social and cultural institution of the countryside, from several vantage points. Drawing on fiscal records, official correspondence, ecclesiastical and court records, and material objects from the village in the Werra region of Hesse, John Theibault creates a nuanced view of what both the village and the war meant to the people who experienced them. The village is revealed as the site of competing interests - interests which responded to, and were transformed by, the challenge of war. The situation of villages emerging from the war was as much a product of how they were before the war as it was a consequence of the war itself. Hence the time span of this study, 1580 to 1720.