Didactic history
in ‘No historie so meete’
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The didactic role of history was reinforced as European scholars sought to define and describe the model of civic virtue, which increasingly supplanted the earlier monastic ideal. This led to the literary content of histories being considered by many historians as more important than the evidential. Although local historians thought it provided the principal justification for their endeavours, the didactic aspect of their work has attracted remarkably little attention. Through their interest in funeral monuments, local historians reveal how the ideal of public service influenced the visual culture of the period. Urban histories addressed the civic elite, while the advice contained in the county histories was addressed to the local gentry. Both these forms also addressed a gentry readership beyond their local communities. Sir Thomas Smith asserted in De Republica Anglorum that it was wealth and a reputation for gentility that were essential for acceptance as a gentleman in England.

‘No historie so meete’

Gentry culture and the development of local history in Elizabethan and early Stuart England

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