How Did The Tudors Gossip?

Writing The Tudors

When imagining the Tudor world as a whole, start with most people living in small, rural communities. It’s difficult to be exact because of the way that records were kept (or not kept), but the general consensus seems to be that about 90% of the population lived outside of large cities. This has an impact beyond what shows up in the landscape or in land ownership records. When you combine it with most people’s irregular, unreliableincomes, the result is an almost inevitable intense interdependency and network of favours and debts that would develop in small communities. And where tightknit relationships form, gossip will follow.

In 1992, anthropologist Robin Dunbar developed a theory that is now often called ‘Dunbar’s Number’. It argues that people have a natural limit to how many other humans they can easily maintain stable social relationships with and that this number tops out somewhere around 150…

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