Complete Gentlemen by Richard Ansell

Educational Travel and Family Strategy, 1650-1750

Dr. Richard Ansell is a Research Associate at the Centre for Urban History University of Leicester. He is a historian of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland, focusing on travel to continental Europe

Complete Gentlemen is the first study to look beyond the Italian Grand Tour to the wider culture of educational travel that thrived among British and Irish landowners between 1650 and 1750. Dr. Ansell reconstructs dozens of encounters with continental Europe, revealing how the varying means, ambitions, and obligations of families produced widely differing experiences of educational travel. Where historians usually isolate time abroad, he pays unprecedented attention to what families thought and did before, after, and instead of foreign travel, stages that uncover its true significance for British and Irish society. This innovative approach requires a deep source base over several generations, provided by the manuscript archives of four clusters of families from England and Ireland. Ansell uses these archives to relate travel, too often a stand-alone topic, to broader questions in social and cultural history, exploring the meanings of time abroad for social mobility, elite formation, landed identity, masculinity, and Englishness.

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