The rise of social history has had a transforming influence on the history of early modern England. It has broadened the historical agenda to include many previously little-studied, or wholly neglected, dimensions of the English past. It has also provided a fuller context for understanding more established themes in the political, religious, economic and intellectual histories of the period. This volume serves two main purposes. Firstly, it summarises, in an accessible way, the principal findings of forty years of research on English society in this period, providing a comprehensive overview of social and cultural change in an era vital to the development of English social identities. Second, the chapters, by leading experts, also stimulate fresh thinking by not only taking stock of current knowledge but also extending it, identifying problems, proposing fresh interpretations and pointing to unexplored possibilities. It will be essential reading for students, teachers and general readers.