New English Historical Review Article by Dr Abigail Greenall

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

‘In Pursuit of Equanimity: Managing Change and Adversity in Early Modern English Households, c.1570–c.1670’ by Dr Abigail Greenall has been now published in The English Historical Review:

This article establishes equanimity as an important emotional ideal in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In showing how equanimity served to strengthen positive emotions and temper disruptive states, it promotes a more positive view of the era’s emotional landscape. The article employs the pursuit of equanimity as an intimate analytical device for uncovering the agency of ordinary people, and thus offers historians a new perspective on momentous change and adversity in the early modern period.

Abi charts personal experiences of adversity—from physical and spiritual threats to familial disputes, uncertain patriarchal power and economic precarity—alongside individual management of religious, social and political change following the English Reformations and during the Civil War. Where other scholars have examined how different social groups reactively negotiated new realities, this microhistorical study of one gentry family in the North West of England urges historians to refocus their attention on the proactive courses that people took.

Through a detailed examination of 541 manuscript letters, domestic decorative schemes, and archaeological evidence of ritual practices of protection, the article uncovers how the Moretons of Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire managed change and mitigated disaster.

It discusses instances where equanimity played a persistent role in motivating the family’s actions and behaviours in daily life, and argues that practices designed to promote emotional harmony were crucial for preserving kinship networks and managing personal well-being, as well as gender relations within households, in early modern England.

Congratulations to this achievement!


Image credits:

Details of the plasterwork in the long gallery showing the figure of Fortune. Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire. NTPL Commissioned. Image No. 98765. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel.

Little Moreton Hall. Wikipedia commons.