The European Reformation

The European Reformation

The European Reformation

The European Reformation

Synopsis

This is a survey and analysis of the European Reformation of the sixteenth century. During this period western Christianity underwent the most dramatic changes in its entire history. From Iceland to Transylvania, from the Baltic to the Pyrenees, the Reformation divided churches and communitiesinto 'Catholic' and 'Protestant', and created varying regional and national traditions. The new protestant creed rejected traditional measures of piety - vows, penances, pardons, and masses - in favour of sermons and catechisms, and an everyday morality of diligence, neighbourly charity, and prayer. In the process it involved many of Europe's people for the first time in a political movement inspired by an ideology and nourished by mass communication. Using the most important recent research, Euan Cameron provides a thematic and narrative synthesis of the events and ideas of the Reformation. He examines its social and religious background, its teachers and their message, and explores its impact on contemporary society. The European Reformationis an incisive and comprehensive study, which includes maps and suggestions for further reading. It will be invaluable for all students of early modern Europe.

Excerpt

The responsibility for suggesting that I write this book rests squarely with Dr Ivon Asquith, now managing director of the Arts and Reference Division of Oxford University Press, who proposed the idea to me in 1983 and whose support and encouragement have regularly made up for my own fears and misgivings. To Dr Asquith and to subsequent history editors at the Press, Robert Faber and Tony Morris, I am much indebted. The book was begun in the uniquely favourable circumstances of a Junior Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. The Warden and Fellows of All Souls made the first stages of the project possible, and then very kindly received me back for a few weeks' work near its conclusion. To my tutor in undergraduate days and mentor since then, Sir Keith Thomas, and to Robin Briggs, who supervised my doctoral thesis, special debts of thanks are owed for their constructive and helpful interest. Since 1985 colleagues in the department of History at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne have sustained and encouraged my efforts; in particular I must thank Professor Jack Watt and Dr Tony Badger, successive heads of department, for their support. Other elder and vastly better scholars of the Reformation period than myself have responded to my daring to attempt such a work with unfailing kindness. Among many it may perhaps not be invidious to mention Professor Patrick Collinson, Dr R. W. Scribner, and the late Professor Richard Stauffer, who were all established authorities in the field at a time when I had barely heard of the Reformation, and yet did nothing but encourage me with the utmost generosity. It is a rare privilege to have a parent who is also an expert in one's own area of work. My father, Professor James K. Cameron, who has opened a new chapter in his career as a sensitive and sympathetic historian of the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland and Europe since his recent retirement from the Chair of Ecclesiastical history at St Andrews, has unhesitatingly given of his time and energies to discuss ideas, supply references, and find books; and has in many other ways conferred an obligation of gratitude to which these few words can in no way do justice. To my family, for putting up with me during the whole absorbing and demanding process, I owe infinite thanks as well as apologies.

None of these acknowledgements must be taken as presuming to claim the patronage or approval of better historians than myself for the interpreta-

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