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Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations [Paperback]

Eamon Duffy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 May 2014
In this wide-ranging book, Professor Eamon Duffy explores the broad sweep of the English Reformation, and the ways in which that Reformation has been written about. Tracing the fraught history of religious change in Tudor England, and the retellings of that history to shape a protestant national identity, once again he emphasizes the importance of the study of late medieval religion and material culture for our understanding of this most formative and fascinating of eras.

Getting to grips with the misconceptions, discontinuities and dilemmas which have dogged the history of Tudor religion, he traces the lived experience of Catholicism in an age of upheaval: from what it meant to be a Catholic in early Tudor England; through the nature of militant Catholicism at the height of the conflict; to the after-life of Tudor Catholicism and the ways in which the 'old religion' was remembered and spoken about in the England of Shakespeare. Duffy writes at all times with grace, elegance and wit as he questions prejudices and myths about the Reformation, to demonstrate that the truth about the past is never pure nor simple.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum (22 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472909178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472909176
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Mentioned in the Church Times' "new titles just published" section. --Frank Nugent, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop, Church Times

This book is a collection of essays on various aspects of early modern English religion which Duffy has written over the past fifteen years, complemented by a few previously unpublished pieces. Collections like that can be annoyingly miscellaneous, but here the stronger impression is of the unity of his body of work. A series of strong, consistent ideas emerges. Nobody who knows Duffy s robust approach to the Reformation will be surprised by anything that is here, but they will still find it worth reading. --Alec Ryrie, Durham University, Theology

There is something compelling and even thrilling about Duffy's combination of cutting-edge historical scholarship and effortless prose. --Peter Stanford, The Independent

About the Author

Eamon Duffy is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a Fellow of Magdalene College. His most recent book was Fires of Faith (Yale UP, 2009).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work 22 Jun 2012
This is far from being Duffy's best book, rather it offers a short explanation (and justification) of his views on historical revisionism (and why he and others have started to swim against the tide of reformation historiography), an essay which proves to be informative and helpful. Otherwise some of the essays read as précis of or essays from his main (best and most famous) works `The Stripping of the Altars' or `Voices of Morebath'. Not least because the essays focus on particular areas of Church and national life, e.g. Rood Screens and the reformation experience of one local parish Church, something he has done already very well elsewhere - it seem would seem, therefore that there is not much that is new in this volume. That said, his argument that Protestant England begins at the end of Elizabeth's reign (rather than her reign serving as the apogee of English Protestantism) is a new and compelling one.

The sad thing is that Duffy doesn't really develop the arguments put forward in `Stripping of the Altars': that far from being moribund, the pre-reformation Church was vibrant and culturally engaged and that the reformation itself was a period of crisis for the Church, ripped from the comfort of the past and forced to radically alter its doctrines and liturgy. That said, Duffy is a very readable historian and he presents his arguments very well. He does, however, show how anti-Catholic historiography can still be found in English academia and in filmography (e.g. in Shekhar Kapur's `Elizabeth' - a film that, he argues not unreasonably, presents Catholicism as repressive and the final days of the rule of Mary, quasi-demonic).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting melange 8 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professor Duffy has added more nuances to his views and treatment of the Reformation and its aftermath, including attitudes to Catholicism during the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, which are not quite what one would expect, and certainly not monolithic. His chapter on Bishop Fisher I found especially interesting.
However I did wonder whether he was barking up the wrong tree altogether in the last chapter on Catholicism in Shakespeare's England: the argument hinges on the famous lines from Sonnet 73, where Professor Duffy takes 'bare ruin'd quiers' to mean literally monastic ruins. Surely this is an image of the tree in autumn, 'where late the sweet birds sang' i.e. they have now migrated for the winter, not necessarily an extension of the choir image. I think it's stretching things to rely on one word ('late')to clinch an argument about late Elizabethan attitudes to the destruction of the monasteries.

On the other hand I may just be very pedestrian!

Read it and see what you think.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many errors 19 July 2012
By Paul
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The essays collected in this volume are consistently interesting, grounded in good research, and open out new vistas on the period. But the book is littered with scores of typos, spelling mistakes, and misquotations. Evidently no one bothered to copy-edit or proof-read it. Shame!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tudor religious history 10 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This review applies to all the Eamon Duffy books I have read.He does not shrink from being controversial and when he is, he provides cogent evidence to support his argument.Not a revisionist historian but an historian who demonstrates that revision in historical assumptions is necessary
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Eamon Duffy successfully challenges the received wisdom concerning the religious transformations of the Tudor period.
History comes alive through the pen of Professor Duffy. I recommend this book to any who would wish to understand
the turbulence of this time.
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