Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Quiet Reformation: Magistrates and the Emergence of Protestantism in Tudor Norwich

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Quiet Reformation: Magistrates and the Emergence of Protestantism in Tudor Norwich

Article excerpt

The Quiet Reformation: Magistrates and the Emergence of Protestantism tn Tudor Norwich. By Muriel C. McClendon. (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1999. Pp. xvii, 340. $55.00.)

This interesting account of Norwich corporation's responses to Tudor religious changes makes a welcome contribution to our understanding of the urban Reformation in England. Although Norwich was England's second largest city, and noted as a center of militant Protestantism under Elizabeth, this is the first monograph devoted to its experience of the Reformation. Professor McClendon is also the first historian to exploit the abundant records of the city's courts, particularly the Mayor's Court, in a study of religious change. Her main arguments are clearly stated. The rulers of Norwich put the interests of their city first. They showed a high degree of solidarity in containing internal disagreements and avoiding occasions for interference by external authorities such as had taken place during the fifteenth century. Professor McClendon draws attention to three broad responses to the Reformation on the part of Norwich's magistrates. First, they complied promptly with government policies, taking advantage of them wherever possible. The acquisition of the newly dissolved house of the Black Friars in 1540, for example, and the redirection to it of much civic ritual, underlined the corporation's authority. Secondly, they sought to prevent open religious divisions. There were strong differences of religious opinion within Norwich, as aldermen's wills suggest and proceedings recorded in the Mayor's Court books show. But whenever these differences resulted in abusive words or deeds, magistrates did their best to defuse tensions. Recorded punishments were light and many proceedings seem to have petered out. …

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