Roman Tales: A Reader’s Guide to the Art of Microhistory explores both the social and cultural life of Renaissance Rome and the mind-set and methods of microhistory.

This book draws the reader deep into eight stories: a Christian-Jewish picnic plus an ill-aimed stone fight, an embassy-driven attack on Rome's police, a magic prophetic mirror, an immured mad hermit, a stolen dwarf, and the bizarre misadventures of a stolen roll of velvet, a truly odd elopement, and a thieving child who treats his cronies to dinner at the inn. It meditates on the resources and lacunae that shape the telling of these stories and, through them, it models an historical method that contrives to turn the limits of our knowledge into an advantage by writing honestly and movingly, to bring a dead past back to life, exemplifying and stretching the genre of microhistory. It also discusses strategies for teaching through intensive use of old documents, with a particular focus on criminal tribunal papers.

Engagingly written, Roman Tales outlines the main principles of microhistorical research and draws the reader outwards towards a wider exploration and discovery of sixteenth-century Rome. It is ideal for researchers of microhistory, and of medieval and early modern Italy.

chapter 1|15 pages

First thoughts

chapter 3|22 pages

White angel

chapter 4|20 pages

The Spanish ambassador's brawl

chapter 5|43 pages

Hermit on trial

chapter 6|17 pages

The case of the purloined dwarf

chapter 7|21 pages

Black velvet's odd adventure

chapter 8|26 pages

Nicolina runs away

chapter 9|11 pages

A boy steals gold