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Cornwall and the Cross: Christianity, 500-1560 [Paperback]

Nicholas Orme
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2007
Cornwall's place-names and churches are unique. They commemorate an enormous number of local and little-known saints, such as St Austell, St Ives, and St Just. This book explains how this came about, how Cornwall came to be Christian after the end of the Roman Empire, and how its religious history developed through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation. Every aspect of Christian life is covered: the early Church, the effects of the English and Norman Conquests, the foundation of monasteries and friaries, and the history of the parish churches. There is a full account of the Reformation in Cornwall, showing what was swept away and what survived. The book is about people. It probes the identity of the early Cornish saints and explains the daily life of monks, friars, and parish clergy, also highlighting their substantial contribution to the Church outside Cornwall. The author emphasises the positive role played by lay people. Far from being passive onlookers in pews, they were involved in appointing clergy, building and running parish churches, founding chapels, forming guilds, going on pilgrimages, and staging religious plays. Celtic or Catholic? This book explores Cornwall?s religious history as a whole, and shows how the Cornish developed distinctive traditions while fully sharing in the Christianity of western Europe. ?The Christian faith in Cornwall is more than fifteen hundred years young and it could not have a more dedicated, learned and attractive writer to help us all to be aware of the heritage which is ours.? The Rt Revd William Ind, Bishop of Truro

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Phillimore & Co Ltd; First Edition edition (1 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860774687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860774683
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 1 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Nicholas Orme is Emeritus Professor of History at Exeter University and an Honorary Canon of Truro Cathedral. He has written nearly twenty books on the hisotry of the Church and society in England, and in Cornwall in particular.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Succinct Overview 10 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
'Cornwall and the Cross' is a short but welcome overview of a topic inadequately described in the past. Indeed, Cornish medieval history as a whole has received insufficient writing that is both credible, objective and popularly available.

Source data is limited, and since antiquarian times interpretation have been offered that are not always easy to justify. In contrast Nicholas Orme provides a studied and evidence-based approach, avoiding speculation. It may surprise some to learn how many cherished views derive from late medieval hagiography or poorly supported assertions.

Orme gives a minimum of political and social context in which to situate his overview. His remarks are largely directed at the fabric of the church and its institutions, focusing on `what' than `why', which in a book of 166 pages is probably an essential discipline.

The length, probably an editorial constraint, does not give scope for Orme's considerable scholarship. There is more that could and should be said. Medieval Cornwall is a fascinating and important world which we should strive to understand and celebrate. For those interested in hagiography I recommend Orme's 'The Saints of Cornwall'. For those starting to explore Christianity in Cornwall I recommend 'Cornwall and the Cross'. The main body text provides a succinct overview, and the bibliography and endnotes are an invaluable reference.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insights into Medieval church history 23 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
Cornwall and the Cross is a paperback book of 198 pages which comes from a well-known academic stable. Research is up-to-date and rigorous: the author has made many new discoveries in archive collections across the British Isles. For this alone researchers into medieval history should be extremely grateful.

The book is arranged chronologically in six chapters. Early, middle, and later middle ages cover the periods 500-1100, 1100-1300 and 1300-1500 and two chapters are devoted to the last, better-documented, period. The Reformation comes after this and is followed by a concluding chapter: 'Cornwall: Heir of the Ages'. This looks at whether the church was Celtic or Catholic and at the medieval achievement overall. There are also five panels on key Cornish themes: St Piran (his flag with its distinctive cross appearing on the back cover), monasteries, friars, devotion to Jesus, and the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549.

Clergy feature large, as might be expected. The contribution of Cornish clergymen to the wider church is also covered. Cornwall was part of the culture of medieval Europe - indeed a 14th century priest, John Trevisa, promoted the English language, while remaining proud of his Cornish roots. It is salutary to remember that for half the period of this study Cornwall was part of the Diocese of Exeter.

Unusually, for an academic book, Cornwall and the Cross is copiously illustrated. Professionally taken colour photographs of church buildings and manuscripts abound and great care has been taken in their selection. The artistic flowering of Cornwall in the late middle ages is particularly apparent in panel 4 which features a recently restored stained glass window at St Kew. This is a book that can be read in many ways: via the text, pictures and maps, or even the index. It is also a taster to a more detailed and eagerly awaited Victoria County History of Cornwall study of the Cornish church due to appear in 2008.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent popular survey 10 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This colour-illustrated paperback covers just what its title implies, from the first incursions of Celtic missionaries to the start of the Elizabethan settlement. It explains things in a very clear way and doesn't assume knowledge of technical terms that a more academic book might. If you're not sure of the difference between a secular canon and a mendicant friar or a Friary and a Collegiate Church and you want to know more about the cradle of English Christianity, this book is for you...
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