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Heretics and Believers A History of the English Reformation

by Peter Marshall


LoveReading View on Heretics and Believers A History of the English Reformation

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 

Remarkably researched, incisively argued and brimming with authoritative verve, Professor Peter Marshall’s Heretics and Believers will surely become a seminal text on this seminal period, providing as it does a painstakingly laid path through a myriad of tangled theories, while positing a fresh approach. 

Arguing that to see the English Reformation as an ‘act of state’ is ‘almost the most unhelpful thing that can be said’, he posits that religion be viewed as a driving entity in its own right, and considers the experiences of individuals who were affected by – and themselves affected – the religious upheavals of the period. The individual and personal is brilliantly positioned within the ‘bigger picture’ backdrop, with in-depth pre-Reformation contextualisation. This is a mightily exhaustive scholarly triumph, told with a storyteller’s touch. ~ Joanne Owen


Heretics and Believers A History of the English Reformation Synopsis

A sumptuously written people's history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall's sweeping new history-the first major overview for general readers in a generation-argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of reform in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora's Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life. With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of religion itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.

Heretics and Believers A History of the English Reformation Press Reviews

'Peter Marshall has written a fine history of a momentous time as seen from the bottom up, drawing on a wide range of primary sources and his evident scholarship . . . a riveting account of the losers as well, the English zealots and cynics who wanted a better world, or an unchanging one.' -- Economist

'An eminently readable narrative that avoids flattening out irregularities in the story. . . . Marshall's analysis, his control of documentary material and his imaginative maneuvers between the corridors of power and the streets and alehouses is impressive.' -- Malcolm Gaskill, Financial Times

'A balanced and judicious account of the English Reformation.' -- Arnold Hunt, TLS

'A tour de force . . . readable, detailed, insightful, and creative . . . Marshall has delivered a volume that is intellectually solid, extraordinarily well researched, easily accessible, and enjoyably rewarding.' -- J. Patrick Hornbeck II, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

'A profound book with a light touch--and all the more impressive in that the author is covering almost a century of intellectual, social, and religious history. . . . It will be a long time before the book is surpassed.' -- Michael Coren, Globe and Mail

'Magisterial. . . . It is a significant achievement, notable not only for its depth and breadth but also for its sheer liveliness and flair, as Marshall masterfully guides his reader through this period of profound cultural change and transformation.' -- B. Shannon Gayk, Reading Religion

'Marshall has a gift . . . in his hands, history is good storytelling. . . . An important book offering a creative synthesis of decades of fruitful scholarship.' -- Anne T. Thayer, Journal of British Studies

'In a field crowded with exceptionally able histories, Heretics and Believers stands out as a treasure.' -- Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction

'A magisterial, panoramic and compelling new account of a phenomenon that was never just a top-down, institutionalised and ordered act of state. Peter Marshall reveals how the English Reformation was nurtured within the religious beliefs, culture and polity that it profoundly transformed, and thereby recovers its momentousness.' -- Mark Greengrass, author of Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648

'A commanding re-interpretation of a deeply significant process of change: analytically subtle, thematically all-encompassing, and full of real people.' -- Steven Gunn, author of Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England

'A remarkable book that will, without doubt, become the definitive narrative of the English Reformation for years to come. Marshall writes with deep understanding and great panache, moving us masterfully beyond tired debates about whether the Reformation was 'good or  'bad' and bringing his subject vividly to life.' -- Christopher Marsh, author of Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780300234589
Publication date: 02/03/2018
Publisher: Yale University Press
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780300234589
Publication date: 2nd March 2018
Author: Peter Marshall
Publisher: Yale University Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 672 pages
Genres: History,
Categories: Christian institutions & organizations, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, History of religion,

About Peter Marshall

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 Peter Marshall is professor of history at the University of Warwick, winner of the Harold J. Grimm Prize for Reformation History, and author of numerous books, including The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction. He lives in Leamington Spa, UK. On Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation: In writing Heretics and Believers I wanted to take a defining episode of England’s past and invite people to view it in a different way. ‘Narrative’ history sometimes gets criticised as naïve or unambitious, yet I deliberately chose ...

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