MO3040 From cradle to grave: living and dying in early modern England, c.1500-1800
Lecturer Professor R A Houston (St Katharine's Lodge, Room 0.06)
Credits 30
Availability Semester 1, 2019-20
Class Hour view timetable


This module explores life and death in England during a period of profound social, political, economic, religious and legal change. Topics which may be covered include family and community, social relations and local government, poverty and its relief, courtship and marriage, young and old, male and female, population and its determinants, the body and health, and death. Using printed or online primary source material and secondary reading will enable students critically to summarize and evaluate scholarly arguments, assess the nature and value of historical debate, and gain insights into the long-lost material environment and mental world of this fascinating period.


Basic Reading
  • COSTER, W., Family and kinship in England, 1450-1800 (Harlow, 2001. 2nd edition, 2016).
  • COWARD, B., Social change and continuity: England, 1550-1750 (London, 1988. Revised edition, 1997).
  • HINDLE, S., The state and social change in early modern England, 1550-1640 (Basingstoke, 2000).
  • SHARPE, J. A., Early modern England. A social history, 1550-1760 (London, 1987. 1997 edition).
  • WRIGHTSON, K., English society, 1580-1680 (1982. 2nd edition. London, 1993).
  • WRIGHTSON, K., Earthly necessities. Economic lives in early modern Britain (New Haven, 2000).
  • WRIGHTSON, K., (ed.), A social history of England, 1500-1750 (Cambridge, 2017).


Course Structure

Agriculture, industry and the organic economy
Poverty and its relief
Young and old
Male and female
Population and its determinants
The body and physical health
Mental health and suicide

Assessment 40% examination - 3-hour paper
60% coursework

Learning Outcomes

  • Awareness of historiographical disputes and trends
  • Demonstrate improved skills in critical and creative thinking through extensive practice in critical inquiry and close analysis
  • analyze different sorts of printed primary sources from the 16th to 18th centuries, compare their own analyses with those of modern scholars
Anti-requisites MO3015