In the early 1950's, historians who studied preindustrial Europe (which we may define here as Europe in the period from roughly 1300 to 1800) began, for the first time in large numbers, to investigate more of the preindustrial European population than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised the political and social elite: the kings, generals, judges, nobles, bishops, and local magnates who had hitherto usually filled history books. One difficulty, however, was that few of the remaining 97 percent recorded their thoughts or had them chronicled by contemporaries. Faced with this situation, many historians based their investigations on the only records that seemed to exist: birth, marriage, and death records. As a result, much of the early work on the nonelite was aridly statistical in nature; reducing the vast majority of the population to a set of numbers was hardly more enlightening than ignoring them altogether. Historians still did not know what these people thought or felt.
One way out of this dilemma was to turn to the records of legal courts, for here the voices of the nonelite can most often be heard, as witnesses, plaintiffs, and defendants. These documents have acted as "a point of entry into the mental world of the poor." Historians such as Le Roy Ladurie have used the documents to extract case histories, which have illuminated the attitudes of different social groups (these attitudes include, but are not confined to, attitudes toward crime and the law) and have revealed how the authorities administered justice. It has been societies that have had a developed police system and practiced Roman law, with its written depositions, whose court records have yielded the most data to historians. In Anglo-Saxon countries hardly any of these benefits obtain, but it has still been possible to glean information from the study of legal documents.
The extraction of case histories is not, however, the only use to which court records may be put. Historians who study preindustrial Europe have used the records to establish a series of categories of crime and to quantify indictments that were issued over a given number of years. This use of the records does yield some information about the nonelite, but this information gives us little insight into the mental lives of the nonelite. We also know that the number of indictments in preindustrial Europe bears little relation to the number of actual criminal acts, and we strongly suspect that the relationship has varied widely over time. In addition, aggregate population estimates are very shaky, which makes it difficult for historians to compare rates of crime per thousand in one decade of the preindustrial period with rates in another decade. Given these inadequacies, it is clear why the case history use of court records is to be preferred.
The author suggests that, before the early 1950's, most historians who studied preindustrial Europe did which of the following?
A.Failed to make distinctions among members of the preindustrial European political and social elite.
B.Used investigatory methods that were almost exclusively statistical in nature.
C.Inaccurately estimated the influence of the preindustrial European political and social elite.
D.Confined their work to a narrow range of the preindustrial European population.
E.Tended to rely heavily on birth, marriage, and death records.
According to the passage, the case histories extracted by historians have
A.scarcely illuminated the attitudes of the political and social elite
B.indicated the manner in which those in power apportioned justice
C.focused almost entirely on the thoughts and feelings of different social groups toward crime and the law
D.been considered the first kind of historical writing that utilized the records of legal courts
E.been based for the most part on the trial testimony of police and other legal authorities
It can be inferred from the passage that much of the early work by historians on the European nonelite of the preindustrial period might have been more illuminating if these historians had
A.used different methods of statistical analysis to investigate the nonelite
B.been more successful in identifying the attitudes of civil authorities, especially those who administered justice, toward the nonelite
C.been able to draw on more accounts, written by contemporaries of the nonelite, that described what this nonelite thought
D.relied more heavily on the personal records left by members of the European political and social elite who lived during the period in question
E.been more willing to base their research on the birth, marriage, and death records of the nonelite
The author mentions Le Roy Ladurie (line 36) in order to
A.give an example of a historian who has made one kind of use of court records
B.cite a historian who has based case histories on the birth, marriage, and death records of the nonelite
C.identify the author of the quotation cited in the previous sentence
D.gain authoritative support for the view that the case history approach is the most fruitful approach to court records
E.point out the first historian to realize the value of court records in illuminating the beliefs and values of the nonelite
According to the passage, which of the following is true of indictments for crime in Europe in the preindustrial period?
A.They have, in terms of their numbers, remained relatively constant over time.
B.They give the historian important information about the mental lives of those indicted.
C.They are not a particularly accurate indication of the extent of actual criminal activity.
D.Their importance to historians of the nonelite has been generally overestimated.
E.Their problematic relationship to actual crime has not been acknowledged by most historians.
It can be inferred from the passage that a historian who wished to compare crime rates per thousand in a European city in one decade of the fifteenth century with crime rates in another decade of that center would probably be most aided by better information about which of the following?
A.The causes of unrest in the city during the two decades
B.The aggregate number of indictments in the city nearest to the city under investigation during the two decades
C.The number of people who lived in the city during each of the decades under investigation
D.The mental attitudes of criminals in the city, including their feelings about authority, during each of the decades under investigation
E.The possibilities for a member of the city's nonelite to become a member of the political and social elite during the two decades
The passage would be most likely to appear as part of
A.a book review summarizing the achievements of historians of the European aristocracy
B.an essay describing trends in the practice of writing history
C.a textbook on the application of statistical methods in the social sciences
D.a report to the historical profession on the work of early-twentieth-century historians
E.an article urging the adoption of historical methods by the legal profession
正确答案:D B C A C C B