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Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England

by Peter Marshall

Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England Synopsis

This is the first comprehensive study of one of the most important aspects of the Reformation in England: its impact on the status of the dead. Protestant reformers insisted vehemently that between heaven and hell there was no 'middle place' of purgatory where the souls of the departed could be assisted by the prayers of those still living on earth. This was no remote theological proposition, but a revolutionary doctrine affecting the lives of all sixteenth-century English people, and the ways in which their Church and society were organized. This book illuminates the (sometimes ambivalent) attitudes towards the dead to be discerned in pre-Reformation religious culture, and traces (up to about 1630) the uncertain progress of the 'reformation of the dead' attempted by Protestant authorities, as they sought both to stamp out traditional rituals and to provide the replacements acceptable in an increasingly fragmented religious world. It also provides detailed surveys of Protestant perceptions of the afterlife, of the cultural meanings of the appearance of ghosts, and of the patterns of commemoration and memory which became characteristic of post-Reformation England. Together these topics constitute an important case-study in the nature and tempo of the English Reformation as an agent of social and cultural transformation. The book speaks directly to the central concerns of current Reformation scholarship, addressing questions posed by 'revisionist' historians about the vibrancy and resilience of traditional religious culture, and by 'post-revisionists' about the penetration of reformed ideas. Dr Marshall demonstrates not only that the dead can be regarded as a significant 'marker' of religious and cultural change, but that a persistent concern with their status did a great deal to fashion the distinctive appearance of the English Reformation as a whole, and to create its peculiarities and contradictory impulses.

Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England Press Reviews

How people in early modern England thought they could relate to the dead is the subject of Peter Marshall's insightful and luminously written Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England. * The Way * ... excellent ... valuable addition to the literature ... Marshall's book is the study of a central theme of peoples' lives in medieval England and how they coped with its disappearance. This elevates his book in importance and places it in the category of one of the most important books in religious history to have been written in the last two decades. It will be an indispensable book for students of the Reformation and for the religious life of England after the Reformation. * H-Albion * Review from previous edition an admirable treatment of a neglected subject ... This is a book with a wide compass and a wealth of interesting topics ... the research is exhaustive, the writing clear and attractive, and the judgements wise. * The Church Times *

Book Information

ISBN: 9780199273720
Publication date: 1st August 2004
Author: Peter Marshall
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 300 pages
Categories: History of ideas, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, History of religion,

About Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Warwick.

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