In Pursuit of Civility Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England Keith Thomas

Publication date:
12 Jun 2018
Yale University Press
480 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 pp. col. illus.

Civility in a changing world

The renowned historian Keith Thomas has written a peerless study of the place of civility in the shaping of English society between the early sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries. Dramatic changes in court fashion and manners took place, but equally important was the emergence of an urban trading and manufacturing class with new values and standards of behavior. Traditional notions of class, gender, social custom, and “Englishness” would all be affected by the upheavals of the period. Civility emerged in contrast to barbarism, as England took its first steps towards global domination. Displaying a true master’s grasp of the period, Thomas offers a compelling and wide-ranging analysis of the connections between changing notions of civility, the justification of colonial expansion, and the invention of race.

Sir Keith Thomas is honorary fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and a historian of early modern Britain. His classic works include Religion and the Decline of Magic and Man and the Natural World.