Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Straightening the Altars: The Ecclesiastical Vision and Pastoral Achievements of the Progressive Bishops under Elizabeth I, 1559-1579

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Straightening the Altars: The Ecclesiastical Vision and Pastoral Achievements of the Progressive Bishops under Elizabeth I, 1559-1579

Article excerpt

Straightening the Altars: The Ecclesiastical Vision and Pastoral Achievements of the Progressive Bishops under Elizabeth I, 1559-1579. By Scott A. Wenig. [Studies in Church History, Volume 10.] (Bern and NewYork: Peter Lang Publishing. 2000. Pp. xiv, 290. $61.95.)

This ought to be an important book. It deals with a significant and underresearched topic, the attempt to impose Protestantism upon England by the first generation of Elizabethan bishops. It focuses on four of the most interesting, well-recorded, and energetic of English Protestant leaders, Richard Cox, John Jewel, James Pilkington, and Edwin Sandys. It considers some of the most controversial questions in current Reformation historiography: the direction, speed, and effectiveness of religious change in England. And it is crisply written and clearly organized. But it is a disappointment-derivative, under-researched, repetitious, and unsophisticated. Half the book retells the familiar stories of ecclesiastical legislation, relations between the queen and her bishops, and the beginnings of puritan protest-adding nothing, and missing some of the recent contributions. The rest tries to show Reformation in action. Dr. Wenig has had a reasonable shot at the correspondence of his four bishops, but for three of the dioceses studied (Durham, Salisbury, and Worcester) his main source is microfilm of the bishop's register-recording only clergy ordinations and institutions. Much of his material is culled from Victoria County Histories, standard diocesan and county histories, and Dictionary of National Biography entries. …

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