Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Article excerpt

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village. By Eamon Duffy. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001. xv + 232 pp. $22.50 (cloth).

The Voices of Morebath is micro-micro history. It is not only the history of one tiny parish of approximately 150 people (p. 5) during the turbulent and momentous sixteenth century, but it is based on the parish accounts recorded by one single vicar during that time. Though the parson's manuscript does reflect the voices of the wardens of the parish in that they are the official report of the accounts of those wardens, Duffy acknowledges that, in the end, it is primarily the voice of the priest that we hear, since he is the one who penned them all (see pp. 36-38 and 64). Indeed, so dominant is the perspective of the vicar that the book might reasonably be called The Voice of Sir Christopher Trychay. Nevertheless, by the end of the book the reader does seem to know the parish and the region, and how it was affected by the dramatic changes of the Reformation.

This is nostalgic history-something of a cross between W. G. Hoskins and Christopher Haigh. Duffy's thesis is, in essence, that the Reformation destroyed the sense of community in the medieval parish. He goes to great lengths to demonstrate the communal nature of the parish before the Reformation. He shows how many parishioners were involved as wardens of various "stores" (funds) for different altars and initiatives of the church, and he demonstrates that many parishioners were charged with caring for the parish's sheep. He does not try to say that this was a perfect society: he readily acknowledges that conflicts and disputes were common. However, these were almost always solved by the development of consensus (see, for example, the dispute about the parish clerk, pp. 58-64). The Henrician, Edwardian (by far the worst), and Elizabethan Reformations destroyed community because they outlawed the reasons for the stores and various posts of the church. Chapter 5 is virtually a primer of the events of the English Reformation and how they affected parish churches. Duffy documents the events with remarkable depth and detail, and brings it all to light with such aplomb that the reader will feel the anguish along with the parish.

However, there are some significant problems with the book. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.