WHERE DO I COME FROM?
Where do you come from? Are you from the countryside, a village,
a town or a great city like London? Remember that the majority of
the population lived in the country and lived and died within about
20 miles from the place of their birth. England in this period had
a population of approximately 3 million, of that, in 1500 about 50,000
lived in London. By 1600 the city's size had ballooned to 200,000,
a quadrupling of the population which made it the fourth largest in
Europe. It's birthrate was still exceeded by the death rate but the
increase in population was due to a huge influx of immigrants from
the country. There was also a sizable foreign community of about 10,000.
Especially for town or city dwellers, you would identify yourself
by your parish name.
WHAT DO I DO?
The majority of the population was engaged in farming, animal husbandry
and allied agricultural occupations in this time period. Craftsmen
were centered in the growing towns and cities. Certain occupations
were itinerant, such as peddlers, soldiers and certain merchants.
Putting It All Together
One of the most rewarding aspects of the whole persona development
game is first person interpretation or speaking in the first person
from the perspective of your persona. When I am in character, I am
a professional soldier, originally from London. I speak in the proper
dialect of the time and place and I even make myself up to look more
like I think my character should appear (Figure 1.)
Now that you have done the basic research and have an idea as to
who you are, you need to start fleshing out your character. To create
a fully rounded persona, consider for a moment all of the things that
one must know to survive in the late 20th century. There is your food,
clothing, shelter and any of a myriad of other details that you must
be aware of to live in a culture. Now project those details back 400
years. These are the same sorts of things that you must know to bring
a period persona to life. Lets take an example. You will need money
on which to live. How did you come by that money? Do you understand
the various denominations and their names? Do you know how to make
change? Do you know how much a meal and drink at a vittling house
(restaurant) would cost? These are just a small sampling of the issues
you need to know about.
To do a credible job at your impression it is probably best to limit
your interpretation to a middle or lower class character. The attitudes
and experiences of the gentry and nobility are so far removed from
our modern experience that it would be very difficult to do a convincing
portrayal. To help put yourself in the mindset of a person of the
period it really helps to read diaries and letters. Although it is
out of period for the context we are discussing presently, the diary
of Samuel Pepys (1660's) has a wealth of detail about London life
from the perspective of a well to do civil servant who came from modest
Following is a selected annotated bibliography of materials I have used
in creating my 16th and 17th century alter-egos Master Luke Knowlton
and Sgt. Luke Knowlton.
Cressy, David. Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion,
and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. Oxford University
An excellent examination of the major events of Tudor and Stuart life
by a noted scholar of the timeperiod. I have found his chapters on
funeral customs to be highly informative.
Duffy, Christopher. Siege Warfare: The Fortress in the Early
Modern World 1494-1660. Routledge, 1979.
A useful and well illustrated overview of sieges and siegeworks.
Eldred, William. The Gunner's Glasse: Wherein the Diligent
Practicioner May See His Defects, and May from Point to Point Reforme
and Amend All Errours that are Commonly Incident to Unskillfull Gunners.
One of the great period texts on gunnery. It is available from Stuart
Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways
in America. Oxford University Press, 1989.
A fascinating study of the survival of British folkways in America.
It is useful for the reenactor in that it examines the folkways in
their original local contexts.
Gorlach, Manfred. Introduction to Early Modern English.
Cambridge University Press, 1990.
A good, understandable study of a complex topic. Professor Gorlach
examines all the aspects of the language of the period and provides
a large selection of contemporary examples for study.
Hexham, Henry. The Principles of the Art Militarie; Practised
in the Warres of the United Netherlands. London, 1637.
One of the best known military drill books of the period. This volume
deals with the training and movements of infantry troops.
Hexham, Henry. The Second Part of the Principles of the
Art Militarie, Practized in the Warres of the United Netherlands.
A continuation of Hexham's great work. This volume deals with the
Hexham, Henry. The Third Part of the Principles of the Art
Militarie Practised in the Warres of the United Provinces, Under the
Lords the States Generall, and His Highnesse the Price of Orange.
The Hagh in Holland, 1640.
The final part of the study. This book deals in part with the proper
manner in which to conduct sieges.
Huggett, Jane. The Mirror of Health: Food Diet and Medical
Theory, 1450-1660. Stuart Press, 1995.
A short work dealing with the theory of the humours and how they relate
Hutton, Ronald. The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The
Ritual Year 1400-1700. Oxford University Press, 1994.
The first of Dr. Hutton's studies of the cycle of English holidays.
This survey stretches from the late medieval period and it's Catholic
festivals and decorations to the Anglican observances of the late
Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the
Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press, 1996.
The second book in Dr. Hutton's examination of the English ritual
year looks at each holiday from it's earliest history to the present
Knudssen, Peter. Psalms of the English Civil War 1642-1649:
For the Use of Preachers to the Armies in Re-Enactments and Living
History. Obadiah Sedgwick Publications, 1995.
A short pamphlet geared towards reenactors containing the major psalm
tunes and selected metrical psalm texts.
Peachey, Stuart. The Tipler's Guide to Drink and Drinking
in the Early Seventeenth Century. Stuart Press, 1992.
A short study of the drinking habits of the period by a noted 17th
century culinary scholar.
Peachey, Stuart and Turton, Alan. Common Soldier's Clothing
of the Civil Wars, 1639-1646. Stuart Press, 1995.
An excellent overview of military clothing of the English Civil Wars
by two noted ECW scholars.
Scollins, Rick. "Oh for a Muse of Foyre", audiocassette,
Stuart Press, c.1992.
An audiotape providing an overview of 17th century standard English.
Singman, Jeffrey L. The Tudor Stuart Sourcebook. Trained
Bandes of London Publications 4.
The fourth in Dr. Singman's excellent pamphlet series on Tudor and
Stuart living history. A goldmine of useful information, highly recommended.
Singman, Jeffrey L. Ye Englishe Breviat: A Concise Guide
to Elizabethan and Stuart Living History. Trained Bandes of London
The first in Dr. Singman's excellent pamphlet series on Tudor and
Stuart living history. A goldmine of useful information, highly recommended.
Trautman, Patricia. "Dress in Seventeenth-Century Cambridge,
Massachusetts: An Inventory-Based Reconstruction", in The Dublin Seminar
for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings [Volume 12,1987]: Early
American Probate Inventories.
A useful article that provides inventory valuations of various items.
Part of the excellent Dublin Folklife Seminar series.
Travers, Leonard. "Reconstructing and Early-Seventeenth-Century
Dialect", in The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings
[Volume 8,1983]: American Speech: 1600 to the Present.
A short but very useful article by Len Travers, late of Plimoth Plantation.
Weinstein, Rosemary. Tudor London. HMSO, 1994.
One of the excellent HMSO publications from the Museum of London.
Chocked full of excellent color illustrations.