Travel in Early Modern Europe by Antoni Maczak by Ursula Phillips (trans) - review by Susan Elkin

Susan Elkin

Join some Necrophiles on the Great Relic Crawl

Travel in Early Modern Europe


Polity Press 350pp £45 order from our bookshop



l could comfortably have slept with Fynes Moryson. We would never have bickered about the bedclothes. Professional traveller as he was, Moryson had the same problem with German beds in the early seventeenth century as I have in the late twentieth nearly everywhere:

‘Throughout all Germany they lodge between two feather beds... as well in summer as in winter. This kind of lodging were not incommodious in winter, if a man did lie alone: but since by the high way they force men to have bedfellowes, one side lies open to the cold by reason that the upper bed is narrow, so it cannot fall around about two, but leaves one side of them open to the wind and the weather. But in summer time this kind of lodging is unpleasant, keeping a man in a continual sweat from head to foote.’

The horrors of the duvet. You freeze in winter and boil in summer. How I sympathise. Montaigne, on the other hand, was stoically true to form. While his boss tolerantly observed the customs of the places he visited – such as Germany in 1580 – Montaigne’s secretary noted that:

‘Monsieur de

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter