Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England

Overview

"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."
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Overview

"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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...thoroughly researched and gracefully written study of changing thought and action over the century following the Henrican reforms..."—Anglican and Episcopal History

"...the first critical study of the Protestant concept of the dead and the notion of life after death in early modern England. Primarily researched from tract and sermon literature, this sharply focused and surprisingly readable account of the 'death of purgatory' is an original and important contribution to English Reformation studies. Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England should be included in all academic collections on Tudor-Stuart England."— HISTORY: Reviews of New Books

"A model of wide-ranging historical scholarship. This type of scholarly approach makes Marshall's text useful to any student of Reformation." — The Historian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198207733
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/2002
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

1 The presence of the dead : memory and obligation before the reformation 6
2 Debates over the dead : purgatory and polemic in Henrician England 47
3 'Rage against the dead' : reform, counter-reform, and the death of purgatory 93
4 The regulation of the dead: ritual and reform in the English Church, c.1560-1630 124
5 The estate of the dead : the afterlife in the protestant imagination 188
6 The disorderly dead : ghosts and their meanings in reformation England 232
7 Remembering the dead : commemoration and memory in protestant culture 265
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