Ruth Goodman

How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain

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Historian and popular TV presenter Ruth Goodman offers up a history of offensive language, insulting gestures, insolent behaviour, brawling and scandal in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries — with practical tips on just how to horrify the neighbours.

‘Ruth is the queen of living history — long may she reign!’
Lucy Worsley

From royalty to peasantry, every age has its bad eggs, those who break all the rules and rub everyone up the wrong way. But their niggling, anti-social and irritating ways not only tell us about what upset people, but also what mattered to them, how their society functioned and what kind of world they lived in.

In this brilliantly nitty-gritty exploration of real life in the Tudor and Stuart age, you will discover:

— how to choose the perfect insult, whether it be draggletail, varlet, flap, saucy fellow, strumpet, ninny-hammer or stinkard
— why quoting Shakespeare was very poor form
— the politics behind men kissing each other on the lips
— why flashing the inside of your hat could repulse someone
— the best way to mock accents, preachers, soldiers and pretty much everything else besides

Ruth Goodman draws upon advice books and manuals, court cases and sermons, drama and imagery to outline bad behaviour from the gauche to the galling, the subtle to the outrageous. It is a celebration of drunkards, scolds, harridans and cross dressers in a time when calling a man a fool could get someone killed, and cursing wasn’t just rude, it worked!
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430 printed pages
Publication year
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    Alyona Dobrolyubovahas quoted5 months ago
    Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England was a place of vitality, experimentation, expanding horizons and lots of small-minded, petty, badly mannered, irritating and irreverent oiks, guls, gallants and harridans. And I love them all.
    Paul Trillerhas quotedlast year
    Bad behaviour can be so much more illuminating than the world of the respectable conformist, for it is those who push against the boundaries of cultural etiquette who most accurately define where the lines are drawn.
    Maria Sapozhnikovahas quotedlast year
    Humphrey Richardson cannot have enjoyed being called a ‘lousy rogue, nitty britch knave, and scurvy nitty britch knave’ in 1610.

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