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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2023
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Book description

In this original study Stuart Carroll transforms our understanding of Europe between 1500 and 1800 by exploring how ordinary people felt about their enemies and the violence it engendered. Enmity, a state or feeling of mutual opposition or hostility, became a major social problem during the transition to modernity. He examines how people used the law, and how they characterised their enmities and expressed their sense of justice or injustice. Through the examples of early modern Italy, Germany, France and England, we see when and why everyday animosities escalated and the attempts of the state to control and even exploit the violence that ensued. This book also examines the communal and religious pressures for peace, and how notions of good neighbourliness and civil order finally worked to underpin trust in the state. Ultimately, enmity is not a relic of the past; it remains one of the greatest challenges to contemporary liberal democracy.


‘Based on extensive research in several languages, this book is the first major study of enmity across western Europe in the early modern period. Stuart Carroll argues that enmity remains one of the greatest challenges to liberal democracy and, as such, the concept of enmity remains of central importance today. This book makes a direct challenge to our very understanding of early modern Europe and it is an original and significant contribution to the histories of the state, violence, the law, and emotions.’

Jonathan Davies - University of Warwick

‘… a seminal work of meticulous scholarship and solidly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library European History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.’

James A. Cox Source: Midwest Book Review

‘Stuart Carroll’s latest book is testimony to a career of reading in multiple archives and languages. It vividly synthesises a large body of new historical scholarship into a coherent vision of the early modern obsession with justice, and the violent paths that people trod on their quests for it.’

Colin Rose Source: Times Literary Supplement

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