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The Late Medieval English Church: Vitality and Vulnerability Before the Break with Rome Paperback – 2 Jul 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (2 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300197128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300197129
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Superbly researched and coherently argued./i>--Peter Marshall"Literary Review" (07/01/2012)

"Superbly researched and coherently argued." Peter Marshall, "Literary Review"--Peter Marshall"Literary Review" (07/01/2012)"

"Bernard has again achieved what he does best: making us go back to an old problem and start thinking afresh." Lucy Wooding, "Times Higher Education"--Lucy Wooding"Times Higher Education" (09/13/2012)"

"England experienced one of the most muddled Reformations in Western Europe and that s what makes studying it so fascinating and so infuriating. Even the most basic questions remain open: why, when and how quickly did England become a Protestant nation? Bernard has done as much as any historian to bring us closer to nuanced answers and in his latest book he is on particularly fine form." Jonathan Wright, "Catholic Herald"--Jonathan Wright"Catholic Herald" (10/26/2012)"

About the Author

George Bernard is professor of early modern history at the University of Southampton and vice-president of the Royal Historical Society.


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bernard makes clear that he substantially accepts the 'revisionist' picture of the late medieval church but nonetheless this work is driven by the belief that Duffy's account 'did not tell the full story' and indeed that as it stood 'it left the subsequent reformation inexplicable'. Hence Bernard sets out to balance the vitality of the church with its vulnerability.

A major source of weakness was that this was always a monarchical church. The church was able to act as it did because the Crown either supported or at least tolerated it and when the two came into conflict the Crown had its way. The reality was always one of 'crown power and clerical dependence'.

Within that framework the church is cleared of generalised immorality. The parish clergy emerge as decent men who did their rather limited best, but the cathedral clergy on the other hand who could have provided leadership were 'too ready to accept a comfortable life in the close. The bishops are seen as highly competent but largely non-resident administrators rather than preachers or pastors. The monasteries also cleared of gross immorality but more prevalent was 'sloth and quarrelling' and often 'cosy, comfortable and inward looking' making little wider contribution.

Bernard points to a high level of lay participation and argues that visual imagery could do much to educate. He then tactfully, mainly through a series of rhetorical question, suggests to the reader the ease with which a religion which revolved around objects, places or movements ofton believed to possess inherent spiritual power could slide into magic and superstition vulnerable to the scripturally based tequniques to which it was subjected in the early C16th.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read a review of this in 'New Directions', I ordered it, and it arrived in no time at all. He doesn't write, perhaps, with the passion, aplomb, and stylishness of Eamonn Duffy, to whose stance, this is, no doubt, intended to be a 'corrective'. It is somewhat tiresome to have to keep turning to the back for 'footnotes', but that's a grievance that could be laid at the door of many, if not most, books now. Like the Author, I was nurtured academically, on the Dickens/Whig view of The Reformation as (Sellers & Yeatman!) 'a good thing', 'though spiritually nurtured in the Anglo-Catholic far South West, where The Reformation was certainly not regarded as wholly benign or inevitable.
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Format: Hardcover
For the layperson who picks up an historical work the expectation is that it will treat of a personage or period in a generally narrative form. Unless the reader has a reason to doubt the author on any particular, the author is accepted to know exactly what happened and why. And usually the text is written as though writer was endowed with omniscience.

Professor Bernard does not present us with a story; he provides information and then proceeds in respect of each portion thereof to analyse it. This should not be off-putting to the serious layperson since, although the book is no doubt now lodged in many an academic bookcase, it is written in good, plain English.

The subject matter is dealt with in chapters entitled The Monarchical Church; Bishops; Clergy; Lay Knowledge; Lay Activity; Criticism; The Condition of the Monasteries; and Heresy.

As he presents each piece of evidence drawn from extant records Prof. Bernard evaluates it in a fashion which this reader saw as being akin to judicial. We are repeatedly reminded that sources are scarce and that they may be interpreted in more than one way. Bernard where appropriate, dissents from prior interpretations, with reasons given.

For those new to this type of history book, the manner in which the materials have been garnered, are presented and then interpreted provides a fascinating behind-the-curtain glimpse of objective historical scholarship.

The reason and objectivity is most refreshing when compared , for example, with the prose employed by art historians when presenting on TV.

Another refreshing aspect of the book is the lack therefrom of political correctness - no BCEs or CEs here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent. He usefully occupies the middle ground between Dickens's and Duffy's versions of this subject. I would definitely recommend.
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Format: Paperback
Arrived as specified ,Perfect no marks like New.
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