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on 27 April 2017
Very good value. Excellent service.
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on 15 August 2008
Haigh argues there were Reformations rather than one Reformation and that the process was interrupted and difficult. That implies that the populace held to Catholicism - which Haigh argues was a functioning framework - through choice. England already had an anti-Catholic underground in the form of the Lollards but they lacked credibility after the Oldcastle Rebellion (1414).

English Lollardy and imported Lutheranism came out of the closet under the protection of Cromwell, Crammer and Anne Boleyn. The two Universities did most of the legwork through Cardinal's College in Oxford and the White Horse Tavern in Cambridge. The arrival of Bucer from Strasburg and Martyr from Italy (a defender of Zwingli) accentuated this. Stereotyping early critics of the religious regime helped to unify opposition. Bilney was characterised by the authorities as `Lutheran' whilst only sharing some common ground with them such as the prohibition of veneration of images. Although found guilty, Tunstall kept the case open as Wolsey wanted a repentant conformer not a martyr. Facts about his relapse and subsequent burning in 1531 are confused.

Haigh argues that the preaching of Protestantism remained `limited and patchy'. We need to deal with one of the most contentious claims head-on. According to Haigh, Protestantism did not appeal to women. 30% of men could read but only 10% of women. Why should it be a surprise that there were more male Protestants than female? Certainly, Protestantism had a spatial bias, being concentrated in the Kent, London, Essex and around the Universities. Haigh claims that even in Colchester in 1553, Protestants were a minority.

England's `Reformation' began in Henry VIII's reign through political accident. The fall of More in 1532 was followed by the release of people formerly considered heretics. In 1538 injunctions ordered the destruction of devotional images. But Henry was responsible for stopping his own Reformation, starting with the case of Lambert. The Act of Six Articles was a personal disaster for Cranmer and Cromwell - particularly as Cranmer had a wife who had to be packed off to Germany. It made denial of transubstantiation a burning issue. Cromwell was executed in 1540 and Barnes, Garrett and Jerome also died at the stake. After Cromwell's fall, the Reformation was not only stoppable but reversible. The revision of the Bishops' Bible demonstrated no `justification by faith', the central tenet of Lutheranism. Cranmer tried to salvage faith even if it would not be `faith alone' but the final Act restricted even the reading of Bibles. Only the break with Rome and suppression of monasteries survived.

Henry might have died in 1546 but over 4 months everything changed. His unsigned will was probably doctored by Paget as Protestants tried to push through their plans for Lady Gray. Elsewhere in the book, Haigh rubbishes the importance of will preambles but here he suggests that Henry's is essentially Catholic. Recent scholarship challenging the assumption that Edward VI was a sickly child is not incorporated. Over the next 6 years church images were ripped down, Protestant Prayer Books were enforced, clergy married and English prayers were introduced. Haigh argues that this march of Protestantism is an illusion. The 1549 Prayer Book was a compromise pleasing neither side. However, the 1552 Act of Uniformity made a decisive break with the past being essentially Calvinist in outlook. The new Book of Common Prayer that year was designed to exclude Papist errors but also responded to the threat of Anabaptism. Its position on predestination was also deliberately vague.

Edward died on 6th July 1553. Six days later there were reports that Mary had been proclaimed Queen in Suffolk. Haigh claims that she had overwhelming support in the country and was swept to power in a revolution. Under Mary, Protestants tried to present a `united credal front'. However, there were separate Zurich and Lutheran camps - amongst others. Henry Hart, an old Lollard from Kent, turned up in Essex preaching that salvation is available to all not just an elect - a thoroughly anti-Calvinist message. According to Haigh, Mary never intended the brutal holocaust she instigated. She wanted to act `without rashness' but there were major miscalculations on Gardiner's part in his choice of burnings.

Mary died in November 1558 by which time it seemed certain that Elizabeth would be Queen as Mary Queen of Scots, the most likely Catholic contender, was married to the French Dauphin. Policy advisers warned Elizabeth that anything other than gradual reform carried severe risks but she threw her lot in with the Protestants. The Parliamentary struggles of 1559 not only produced another ambiguous Book of Common Prayer, they frightened Elizabeth into a conciliatory position. However, the Royal Visitation proceeded along Cranmer's example of 1548. Elizabeth was outraged at the results and quickly moved to restore roods in churches. Yet she was forced to agree to another phase of official iconoclasm.

Nearly all early Elizabethan parish clergy were recruited as Catholic priests. Gradually this Catholic-rooted old guard died off and was replaced by Protestants. Catholicism became either a religion in exile as at Louvain or an underground, `country house' religion at home. Critical to this was Pius V's hard line on Catholics attending church services in England. By the middle of Elizabeth's reign there is mounting evidence of Protestant breakthroughs. By the end, Catholicism had disintegrated into a small sect.

Under pre-Reformation Catholicism, both thinking and unthinking Christians were all Catholics. But Protestantism had an exclusivist model with a single route to salvation. Yet, in spite of all the legislative changes, the new service acquired the appeal of the old; the Book of Prayer took on the role of the mass. England after the Reformation had 4 types of Christian: godly Protestants, recusant Catholics, Old Catholics and `parish anglicans'. The last of these were despised by both sides and were seen as potential Papists by the Protestants. For Catholics several decades had changed everything. Many Protestants wondered how so little could have changed.
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on 23 April 2003
I am currently studying History at Exeter College, Oxford, and I very much doubt I would be here without the aid of this book. Clearly set out, well written and with a fantastic overview of events, Haigh describes the changes that took place in Tudor England with finesse and style. However, this is not just a work for those studying the period - Haigh's informal style of writing and the fluency of his essays means that it is also an excellent resources for the more casual reader. An invaluable book to any studying or interested in the Reformations.
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on 6 January 2003
Another very satisfying book which I read just after Duffy's "The Stripping of the Altars". Interestingly it confirms Duffy's thesis of the robustness and resilience of late medieval piety and does even more to expose the political motives and accidents of timing which underpinned enforced institutional change to religion in England. If his reading is right the Edwardine period becomes a virtual aberration based on cynical power-hunger on the part of Somerset and Northumberland. Of particular interest is his analysis of the start of Elizabeth's reign and her sharply radical opening push which came unstuck with the bishops and conservative peers. It is a pity that one cannot - as Haigh rightly accepts - put any reliable figure on the number of protestant believers through the period or make any sensible judgment on the extent of pressure on would-be protestants to conform. What is clear is that the Whig theory of an ineluctable and historically necessary English Reformation is entirely exploded.
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on 14 November 2009
Haigh presents his information in a way that is accessible to a non-specialist. The information is clear, well-founded and explained, and the detail is restricted to a level that illustrates but does not clog.

The book starts with Interpretation and Evidence and Haigh points out the weaknesses of the historical view that says Catholicism must have been decayed because it lost, and Protestantism must have been popular because it won.
He goes on to examine historical evidence in context (`But histoirans have too often selected dramatic anecdotes from court records without placing them in their context.') and I think that his use of English makes the facts more accessible e.g. `It is not suggested here that the payment of tithe in the early sixteenth century was any more popular than the payment off income tax in the twentieth, ...' etc

All in all, you get the impression that the Catholic church in England before the Reformation was fairly typical for most human societies - lots of good will, some moans and the occasional dust-up.
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on 3 July 2014
Well researched and presented with easily readable prose.
Should suit all scholars interested in the Reformation.
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on 28 November 2005
Dr Haigh writes a fluent and readable history that is strongly grounded in the source material available from the period. Although the post-revisionist school (typified by the work of Professor MacCullogh) has evolved, it has evolved in the shadow of Haigh and his fellow revisionists of the 1980s. As a result, this book constitutes essential reading for anyone studying British history, European religious history, or church history. This work represents a benchmark, and it is necessary to have grasped the arguments within it before considering the subsequent debate.
While it can now be argued that revionism overstated its case in the reaction to the 'whig' histories of a progressive and inevitable English reformation, it is very difficult to prove this argument absolutely. In his lectures at Oxford Dr Haigh continues to justify his position in an academically sound manner, and so the question of whether he is right becomes one of interpretation, emphasis and bias. This, after all, is what the study of history is all about. Within this debate Haigh was one of the leading protagonists, and remains a central force for the 'yes but, realistically' approach to reformation history, and this book is therefore fundamental reading material.
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on 22 August 2014
This item is very interesting. I will use this book for my scientific work.
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on 30 August 2014
fantastic book, work of a true historian, unbiased, informative, well written, a good read.

recommend it to anyone who wishes to find out about this period and issues.

true to the title, but much more interesting than it would suggest ;)
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on 16 September 2001
Dr Haigh's book appears to have widespread appeal but there are a number of fault lines running through it.
For the early part of the period there is a failure to come to terms with the essential dynanism of the Henrican reforms. Papal authority was broken, an English Bible translated by reformers introduced, monastries disolved, the cults of relics and shrines virtually ended,there was extensive use of English in church services while the interrelated concepts of purgatory,images and prayers for dead much diminished in importance.There was was a vigorous preaching campaign,ale house discussion and a strong( I suspect already dominant) flow of reformist literature for which figures such as Boleyn, Cromwell,Cranmer, Denny, Butts, Catherine Parr could offer at least partial protection throughout. Macculloch's Cranmer offers more constructive account, of the latter period of Henry's reign which is I think is more convincing than that presented by Dr Haigh.
It is not that the Henrican reforms turned England into a protestant nation but rather that they laid the foundations for rapid advance in Edwards' reign and the early part of Elizabeths' reign. Dr Haigh(Chp 11) for example gives some data for traditional catholic will preambles for Kent taken,I assume, from English Provincial society --Kent by P Clark.These show a collapse under Edward a recovery to around 40% in the latter part of Mary's reign. The critical point is that even with the intensity of the Marian persecution in Kent they never returned to the of the mid-1540's but more importantly fell back sharply again as soon as Elizabeth came to power(9% in 1560).The data must be used with caution but the trend is clear.
From the 1560's onwards Dr Haigh seems to assume that puritanism and protestantism are one and the same thing and hence fails to take account of the power of Cranmer's Prayer Book and the development of a conservative, but nevertheless protestant, Anglicanism. The demand for some form of ceremony or dislike of puritan preaching was just that, not a demand for a catholic restoration.
There are some interesting points but overall the lack of balance and in my view the rather strained use of sources makes this a seriously flawed work.
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