Hodges has clearly given some thought, and with excellent results, to his presentation of the period he covers in this Cultural History series from England. This is no survey crammed full of names to forget, but an intelligent selection based on intimate knowledge. Very early Hodges points to two seemingly unrelated events of 1485--Caxton's publication of Malory's Morte d'Arthur, and the battle of Bosworth which put Henry Tudor on the throne--which would coalesce in a would-be new Camelot. Soon We are watching the ""progress"" through the country of 15-year-old Catherine of Aragon, then seeing the passage through the eyes of the people of the forest of Arden, and becoming acquainted especially with the family of one Thomas Arden--a family we will follow through the book and which will turn out, of course, to be the maternal line of William Shakespeare. ""Progress,"" Hodges tells us as Catherine passes, ""was the name given to an official journey by a great or royal personage""--and similarly he remembers to point out the interesting origins of other terms, such as Morris dance and Mystery Play, as they arise, His explanations of such phenomena as the enclosure of land and its effects on the people are splendidly simple, and his general comments are meaningful and to the point. Learning was surprisingly widespread under the Tudors, Hodges tells us; and if Erasmus at the beginning of the period was shocked by dirt and garbage on English floors, another Dutch visitor 50 years later wrote of the ""neat cleanliness"" and ""exquisite fineness"" of the English home. Readers will come away with some firm impressions, new understanding, and no illusion that they have ""done"" the period.