The Beggar and the Professor: A Sixteenth-Century Family Saga

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9780226473246: The Beggar and the Professor: A Sixteenth-Century Family Saga
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In 1499, high in the remote and bitterly impoverished mountains of the Valais, Thomas Platter was born and quickly abandoned, left to make his way among the crags as a herder of goats and sheep. At the age of ten, mustering the ferocity of will that would serve him throughout his life, Thomas walked barefoot and alone out of the hills and into the glorious turbulence of the sixteenth century. For nearly ten years, he wandered the breadth of Western Europe, throwing in his lot with nomadic gangs of beggars and thieves, scraping and fighting for food and survival, until a chance encounter sparked a stunning humanist conversion, propelling him from illiterate pauper to esteemed professor, printer, and, ultimately, patriarch. From a wealth of vividly autobiographical writings - diaries, travel journals, memoirs - Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie reconstructs the extraordinary life of Thomas Platter and the lives of his sons as well. Together their rich careers spanned the entire sixteenth century, and their far-flung and often perilous journeys carried them through countrysides and kingdoms, into cathedrals and plague houses. These personal narratives, among the first to have authors of rural or peasant origin, constitute a rare and intimate portrait of the emergence of early modern European society. With masterful erudition, Le Roy Ladurie deepens and expands the historical contexts of these accounts and, in the process, brings to life the customs, perceptions, and character - the very dialogue - of an age poised at the threshold of modernity.

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"Written with care, grace and wisdom. . . . Le Roy Ladurie tells a story of social mobility, first made possible in an era of dramatic transformation--the Reformation, capitalist expansion, plagues and wars. . . . Le Roy Ladurie paints a remarkably contemporary picture of life in the sixteenth century. . . . It’s a good story, told with a deft narrative touch."--Michael S. Kimmel, reviewing the book in The Nation.
On the University of Chicago Press website you may read chapter one, "Pilgrimage to the Valais":
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/473236.html

From the Back Cover:

From a wealth of vivid autobiographical writings, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie reconstructs the extraordinary life of Thomas Platter and the lives of his sons as they crossed physical, political, and social boundaries in moving from peasantry to the professions of the new bourgeoisie. With masterful erudition, Le Roy Ladurie deepens and expands the historical contexts of these accounts and, in the process, brings to life the customs, perceptions, and character of the sixteenth century -- an age poised at the thresh-old of modernity.

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9780226473239: The Beggar and the Professor: A Sixteenth-Century Family Saga

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ISBN 10:  0226473236 ISBN 13:  9780226473239
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1997
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