Life and Leisure

When we look at the history of ordinary people we get a whole new perspective on historical events. We usually know what the generals thought about the battles they fought because most of them wrote their memoirs to remind us of their successes and to explain away their failures. But what did the ordinary soldiers, the ones who did the fighting for the generals, think about it all? Well some of them kept diaries, or wrote letters home, or, if they came home safely afterwards, talked about their experiences to other people who had the foresight to write down or record what they were told. Similarly, ordinary people have provided vivid impressions of their individual experiences of social life and leisure activities. 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.

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