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The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 Paperback – 1 Sep 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 666 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (1 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300060769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300060768
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 763,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'A mighty and momentous book... which reorders one's thinking about much of England's religious past.' Jack Scarisbrick, The Tablet; 'Duffy wants to show the vitality and appeal of late medieval Catholicism and to prove that it exerted a diverse and vigorous hold over the imagination and loyalty of the people up to the very moment of the Reformation. He succeeds triumphantly.' Susan Bridgen, London Review of Books; 'A magnificent scholarly achievement, a compelling read, and not a page too long.' Patricia Morrison, Financial Times; 'A landmark book in the history of the Reformation.' Ann Eljenholm Nichols, Sixteenth Century Journal; 'This book will afford enjoyment and enlightenment to layman and specialist alike. Duffy sweeps the reader along... by his lively and absorbing detail, his piercing insights, patient analysis, and his vigour in debates.' Peter Heath, Times Literary Supplement; 'Sensitively written and beautifully produced, this book represents a major contribution to the Reformation debate.' Norman Tanner, The Times; 'Deeply imaginative, movingly written, and splendidly illustrated.' Maurice Keen, The New York Review of Books' --The Tablet, London Review of Books, Financial Times, Sixteenth Century Journal, TLS, The Times, NYRB --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I have owned this book for several years, and while I have used it quite a few times for referencing and finding information, this is the first time I have read it from cover to cover.

It is an interesting book, in that it attempts to explain how the `ordinary' people of the time (1400-1580) `lived' their religion - what they were required to learn, to do, how they were required to show their faith. It was of course a time of great change in England, with the Henrician Reformation, Edward VI, the attempt to return to Catholicism under Mary and the somewhat less fervent religion of Elizabeth I.

What must be borne in mind when reading this is that the author is a staunch Catholic, and this is quite evident throughout the book - sadly, it means that I felt some of the writing needed to be taken with some scepticism, or a healthy dose of temperance anyway.

But this does not detract from the book being both informative and interesting, though you may find yourself feeling that the author has overstated somewhat some of his conclusions, particularly about the vibrancy and reality of Catholic faith in the fifteenth century. I felt you needed to question `conformity' versus `conviction' while reading some of this book; what really motivated many (though certainly not all) English people in their faith. And I'm not sure that Margery Kempe can really be continually referred to as any kind of `normal' English Catholic of the time. I think she would have stood out in any period of history as being somewhat outside the average believer.

A good and worthwhile read. Just don't accept it as the only view on this time in English religious history
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Newsletta Chick on 24 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is not only meticulously researched and exhaustive on all the minutiae of common piety in late medieval/early modern England, it is far more readable and absorbing than such a weighty tome has any right to be. Duffy recreates a lost world in a way that is sensitive and sympathetic - the characters in the brief sketches he can offer from the sources become real people to us. Real quality.
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112 of 128 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
During the last 30 years there has been a revolution in our thinking about the 16th century English church. This has been the result of a vast body of and also a great deal of cross-referring to other primary sources, including the church buildings themselves. One of the richest fruits of all this research is this extraordinary book, which manages to capture in less than a thousand pages the full panoply of pre-Reformation liturgy and life, and how it was effectively destroyed by the reformers. This study and others like it confront head-on the received tradition of a moribund and corrupt medieval English church 'rescued' by the Reformation. This tradition arose largely from the enthusiasm of the Oxford Movement, and the Anglican revival for which it was responsible. This harnessed popular anti-Catholic prejudice in the 19th century, to create the illusion of a modern Church of England which had evolved naturally from the church of St Augustine and the mind of the medieval liturgy, stripped of its corruption and excesses. The Reformation was presented by these people as a smooth, evolutionary process, whereby roods, wallpaintings, etc., were removed from churches in the 16th century because of 'new liturgical practices' that no longer required them. Any idea that the Reformation in England was a violent and unpopular fracture was quietly lost. The obvious destruction that had taken place in English parish churches was most often attributed to the ultra-protestant Puritans of a century later. Duffy, however, documents in some detail how the churches of England were comprehensively wrecked between 1538 and 1553, and then again after Elizabeth I's accession in 1558. He uses documentary evidence to show how this happened in specific churches, particularly in East Anglia.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have owned this book for several years, and while I have used it quite a few times for referencing and finding information, this is the first time I have read it from cover to cover.

It is an interesting book, in that it attempts to explain how the `ordinary' people of the time (1400-1580) `lived' their religion - what they were required to learn, to do, how they were required to show their faith. It was of course a time of great change in England, with the Henrician Reformation, Edward VI, the attempt to return to Catholicism under Mary and the somewhat less fervent religion of Elizabeth I.

What must be borne in mind when reading this is that the author is a staunch Catholic, and this is quite evident throughout the book - sadly, it means that I felt some of the writing needed to be taken with some scepticism, or a healthy dose of temperance anyway.

But this does not detract from the book being both informative and interesting, though you may find yourself feeling that the author has overstated somewhat some of his conclusions, particularly about the vibrancy and reality of Catholic faith in the fifteenth century. I felt you needed to question `conformity' versus `conviction' while reading some of this book; what really motivated many (though certainly not all) English people in their faith. And I'm not sure that Margery Kempe can really be continually referred to as any kind of `normal' English Catholic of the time. I think she would have stood out in any period of history as being somewhat outside the average believer.

A good and worthwhile read. Just don't accept it as the only view on this time in English religious history.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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