Lyndal Roper is Regius Professor of History at Oxford and one of the most respected historians at work in Britain today. An expert on early modern Germany, her previous books include a study of witchcraft, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany. In 2016 she received the prestigious Gerda Henkel Foundation Prize for her work on Luther and the Reformation.
Author photo © John Cairns
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2017. This year is the anniversary of the events that we hold responsible for the beginning of the European Reformation in 1517. As it turns out, along with most other things about Martin Luther, it wasn’t quite like that. Bodley Head announce this biographical history as “warts and all” and it is the more valuable for that, at last portraying Luther as a real man not the dim and distant waxwork figure from our schooldays. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingReformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700, Diarmaid MacCullochThe Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, Eamon Duffy Wolfson History Prize Judges: “Powerfully written with superb control of material, Roper’s book is highly skilled in opening up the vivid social context of Luther’s Germany.”
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE 2017 SHORTLISTED FOR THE ELIZABETH LONGFORD PRIZE 2017 'A magnificent study of one of history's most compelling and divisive figures' Richard J. Evans When Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper to the church door of a small university town in 1517, he set off a process that changed the Western world for ever. Within a few years Luther's ideas had spread like wildfire. His attempts to reform Christianity by returning it to its biblical roots split the Western Church, divided Europe and polarised people's beliefs, leading to religious persecution, social unrest and war; and in the long run his ideas would help break the grip of religion on every sphere of life. Yet Luther was a deeply flawed human being: a fervent believer tormented by spiritual doubts; a prolific writer whose translation of the Bible would shape the German language yet whose attacks on his opponents were vicious and foul-mouthed; a married ex-monk who liberated human sexuality from the stigma of sin but who insisted that women should know their place; a religious fundamentalist, Jew-hater and political reactionary who called `for the private and public murder of the peasants' who had risen against their lords in response to his teaching. And perhaps surprisingly, the man who helped create in the modern world was not modern himself: for him the devil was not a figure of speech but a real, physical presence. As an acclaimed historian, Lyndal Roper explains how Luther's impact can only be understood against the background of the times. As a brilliant biographer, she gives us the flesh-and-blood figure. She reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove Luther forward and the dynamics they unleashed, which turned a small act of protest into a battle against the power of the Church. A New Statesman, Spectator, History Today, Guardian and Sunday Times Book of the Year
In an exciting new approach to witchcraft studies, The Witch in the Western Imagination examines the visual representation of witches in early modern Europe. With vibrant and lucid prose, Lyndal Roper moves away from the typical witchcraft studies on trials, beliefs, and communal dynamics and instead considers the witch as a symbolic and malleable figure through a broad sweep of topics and time periods.Employing a wide selection of archival, literary, and visual materials, Roper presents a series of thematic studies that range from the role of emotions in Renaissance culture to demonology as entertainment, and from witchcraft as female embodiment to the clash of cultures on the brink of the Enlightenment. Rather than providing a vast synthesis or survey, this book is questioning and exploratory in nature and illuminates our understanding of the mental and psychic worlds of people in premodern Europe.Roper's spectrum of theoretical interests will engage readers interested in cultural history, psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, art history, and early modern European studies. These essays, three of which appear here for the first time in print, are complemented by more than forty images, from iconic paintings to marginal drawings on murals or picture frames. In her unique focus on the imagery of witchcraft, Lyndal Roper has succeeded in adding a compelling new dimension to the study of witchcraft in early modern Europe.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of women confessed to being witches and were put to death. This book is a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches, particularly in Germany, as well as a deeper exploration of the psychology of witch-hunting in modern culture. [A] brilliant piece of investigative history. -The Guardian This ambitious and subtle book is testament not only to Roper's skill in excavating stories from the German archives, but also to her imagination and determination in reading between the lines of examinations and confessions...Compelling, courageous and inspirational. -Malcolm Gaskill, Journal of the Historical Association
This bold and imaginative book marks out a different route towards understanding the body, and its relationship to culture and subjectivity. Amongst other subjects, Lyndal Roper deals with the nature of masculinity and feminity.