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steven@euroclio.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

www.exploringhistory.eu

In the introduction to another theme on this website Conflict and Cooperation we pointed out that history textbooks, traditionally tended to focus on battles, wars, conquests, international crises and the lives of kings and queens. This is changing. More historians now focus on the history of ordinary people and their everyday lives and this new emphasis is increasingly reflected in the history covered in television documentaries and the history textbooks used in schools.

When we look at the history of ordinary people, we get a whole new perspective

When we look at the history of ordinary people, we get a whole new perspective on historical events. For instance, we get to know what generals thought about the battles they fought and won and the life, which created the circumstances for their actions. They usually wrote their memoirs to remind us of their successes and to explain their failures. But what did the ordinary soldier the one who fought the battles for them - think about it all? Well, some of them kept diaries,

onwrote historical they letters home and if they survived the battles, they sometimes talked about their experiences
toevents other people who had the foresight to write down or record what they were told.

We also discover that some people are not as invisible in the historical record as previous generations of historians would have us believe. Take the history of women. Until the mid-C20th few historians wrote about women unless they were saints and martyrs, monarchs or the wives and mistresses of important men. When feminist historians in the 1960s and 70s started researching womens lives in the past, some male historians questioned: Where are the historical sources on women? They are all about men! They are not, if one starts looking at historical sources more closely. One discovers something very interesting. Historians sometimes see what they are looking for and fail to see what does not interest them. When looking at recent history one constitutes a large variety of different historical sources one can draw on. When going further back in time, the main historical sources are the records people kept at the time: church records on births, deaths and the punishment of sinners; records held by law and civil courts and the records kept by all kinds of officials: tax collectors, customs officials, the people who recorded census information on every household; the merchants who kept records of what they bought and sold and who they had dealings with. When starting to look at these records we soon see that most women had their own history to tell. It was not just the history of their fathers, brothers and husbands. Many of them paid taxes, owned property, ran businesses, went to prison, were persecuted for their beliefs or just for being different, did many of the hard manual jobs that men also did, worked as apprentices and became masters of their trade. Some of them even fought as soldiers. Furthermore, they had families and managed households. Through studying not just the historical record but also art, fashion and literature in different historical periods we can get insights into how aspects of life that everyone experiences can have a very different meaning for people at different times. Our ideas about death have changed as many people have become less religious or views about the afterlife have changed. Our ideas about health and cleanliness have changed. Now we distance ourselves from the waste we produce when once people just threw it out into

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

the street. Peoples ideas about washing have changed. In the C15th and C16th many people thought washing weakened you and would only do it occasionally. Fashion is a particularly good barometer of cultural change. For centuries people have used clothes and jewellery as a means of making a statement about themselves: their wealth, their rank or status, their religious faith and their group affiliations. What we wear and how and when we wear it provides other people with information about us but also about the social situation they find themselves in. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, for example, Protestants differentiated themselves from
Anglo-Saxon Jewellery 600-700, Ixworth, Suffork, England

Catholics by wearing black, grey or brown clothes, which had very little additional adornment. At the same time, peoples

[Images] tell us a lot about cultural attitudes at the time when they were created

ideas of what it is to be beautiful have changed considerably over time. Compare, for example, the female models in the paintings of Rubens with photographs of a size zero super model today. These images are not just the personal preferences of the painter and the photographer. They tell us a lot about cultural attitudes at the time when they were created.

Peoples ideas about public and private space have changed even over the last 100 years. Although this varies from culture to culture people tend to value privacy more highly than they used to and communal life tends to be valued less. Our ideas about childhood and bringing up children have also changed dramatically over time. Relations between parents and children have changed and that is mainly because families are smaller and parents tend to spend more time with their children in the early formative years. On the other hand, more mothers now go out to work while their children are young. The rites of passage that children go through from childhood to adulthood have changed a lot. The teenage years are a relatively new invention. Over one hundred years ago childhood was much shorter. Most children, except those from the more privileged families, started working by the age of 11 or 12, sometimes even earlier. Two hundred years ago, their childhoods would have been even shorter. Here are two historians, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English, writing about childhood in America in the early C17th when it was still a British colony:

Today, a four-year old who can tie his or her shoes is impressive. In colonial times, four-year old girls knitted stockings and mittens and could produce intricate embroidery; at age six they spun wool. A good, industrious little girl was called Mrs instead of Miss in appreciation of her contribution to the family economy; she was not, strictly speaking, a child.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Of course when we look at everyday life in the past we can also see that some things do not seem to have changed all that much. As students of history, we are interested in studying continuity as well as change. One area of everyday life where we can see both continuity and change is leisure: both how we spend our leisure time and also what leisure means to us. Here we have a famous painting by one of the Dutch Masters, Peter Breughel the Elder. Its called Childrens Games and it was painted in 1560. OK, we wont see any Barbie Dolls here or anyone playing with a Nintendo or X-Box 360. But most of you will recognize some of the activities here: swimming, playing leapfrog, playing tag, King of the Castle and Blind Mans Buff, walking on stilts, knucklebones and several pastimes that were still being played by children until quite recently such as bowling a
Peter Breughels Childrens Games, 1560

hoop and spinning a top. And we can also see adults passing time drinking beer, chatting,

watching the fun, much as they do now. We can see a thread running from the C16th right through to modern times. Here is another painting by the same artist painted a year earlier. Again we can see that many of the adults are drinking beer, getting ready to have some food outside the inn, some children are playing others are coming out of church. But something else is also going on and the clue is in the name of the painting. Its called

The Fight between Carnival and Lent. In the


foreground we can see a battle between a fat man on a barrel, representing Carnival and the time of plenty and a thin figure being pulled on a trailer representing the period of Lent when people gave up many of the things they enjoy as part of the spiritual preparation for Easter. What we are seeing here is a festival. Now of course we still have festivals, many European societies still celebrate Carnival. Therefore, we could argue that people are still doing what they used to do in the Middle Age. We might dress differently, our carnival floats may look different but the activity is similar. We can go back in further. What is different is that in those earlier times the distinction between work time and leisure or recreational time was not as clear-cut as it is now. Then people usually worked until it was dark and then some of them would go off and have fun. The idea of organized recreation, regular times for leisure,
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Peter BreughelsThe Fight between Carnival and Lent, 1559

sports and games, which are organized with universal rules, did not exist until much later and is linked to industrialization. Festivals were often the only time they got a holiday, literally a holy day. Therefore, when we look at the past we also need to avoid what historians call anachronisms. We need to make sure that we are not just using our modern ways of thinking and living to explain something, which happened in the past just because it seems to be superficially similar. Let me finish with just one example of what I mean. Suppose we could travel back in a time machine to Florence in the C17th and we aimed to arrive on Shrove Tuesday the day before the Christian season of Lent begins. If we walked into one of the main squares of the city, Piazza Santa Croce, we might see what appears to be a game of football taking place between the reds the rossi and the blues the azurri. We would soon see that the rules were different from the modern game. Its 27 players aside, they can use both their feet and hands, the goals ran the width of each end, and players could head butt, punch, elbow each other and grab each other around the neck. Well, perhaps it is not so different from the modern game then. Certainly it sounds like an early form of football. Even Popes such as Clement VII and Urban VIII played it in their youth. Originally it was a game for aristocrats rather than the ordinary people and this is a clue to understanding what this pastime meant to those who played it and watched it. The game involved a number of rituals, which have no link with the modern game of football. The teams represented different factions in the city. Each chose their Prince who then sent their ambassadors to arrange a battle of calcio the kicking game. Once arrangements had been made war was proclaimed. In other words, along with archery and fencing it was a means of recreation and passing the time but it was also a means of ensuring that the young men were prepared for a much more serious activity: war.
Game of football between Rossi and Azurri

The ambitious goal of the Exploring European History and Heritage is to build an educational online tool on history and heritage from a European perspective. A European perspective on history and heritage help us to look at our own past through the eyes of the other and to understand differences in order to overcome divisions. The thematic approach
This project has been funded with support the European Commission. This communication the views onlyin of history and see similarities makes it possible to trace back long from term developments, see and analyze reflects turning points

and difference between events and locations. Multiple perspectives on the past and inter- and intra state comparison help, with respect for diversity, to show what people share

the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein