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Travel in Early Modern Europe by Antoni Maczak

Travel in Early Modern Europe


Travel in Early Modern Europe by Antoni Maczak

Most of us today know little about the conditions under which people travelled in early modern Europe. Travellers' accounts from the period generally omit detailed descriptions of the state of roads, the discomfort of a carriage or a coach, or the harshness of a landscape, even though these formed the everyday reality of travel for most people. In this wide-ranging book, Maczak sets out to fill this gap in our knowledge by vividly reconstructing the lives and daily experiences of travellers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He analyzes the reasons why they travelled, what they hoped to gain from it, and how they were changed by the experience. He discusses the practical problems encountered by travellers: difficulties with transportation, the danger of accidents, and the problem of finding suitable conveyances and guides. He describes the dangers presented by inhospitable weather and terrain, wild animals, marauding soldiers, bandits and highwaymen. He analyses travellers' lodges and food, the relationships they formed on their journeys, and their encounters with foreign bureaucracies, customs and border controls. Maczak paints colourful portraits of a wide variety of travellers, from the splendid entourages of bishops and ambassadors, to the lone pilgrims, artists and scholars travelling for their own pleasure and enlightenment.


'Rarely have I read a book as full of intriguing nuggets about the everyday life of the past and with as much potential to trigger engrossing flights of fancy as Travel in Early Modern Europe.'
Literary Review

'His range shows through in the geographical reach of his text.'
The Journal of Transport History

'A most welcome addition to the rapidly-growing English-language literature on the history of travel. It is not only scholarly and original, but readable and lively. It has itself the qualities of good travel books - apt quotations, picturesque detail, and a great deal of human interest.'
Journal of Social History

'Maczak has marshalled the sources with magnificent erudition to provide a vivid and comprehensive account of the circumstances and attitudes that conditioned early modern travel ... Maczak makes fascinating use of multilingual phrasebooks for travellers ... a marvellous analysis of travellers and relics ... this is an important book of superb scholarship and sharp insight, which will be very welcome in English translation for early modern historians.'
American Historical Review

About the Author

Antoni Maczak is Professor of History at the University of Warsaw.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th January 1995


Antoni Maczak

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Polity Press


368 pages


European history
Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700
Travel & holiday
Social & cultural history



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