Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 / Edition 1

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This book looks at how popular religious belief was reflected in the cheapest printed wares available in England in the century after the Reformation: the broadside ballad, the woodcut picture and the chapbook (a small pamphlet, usually of 24 pages). Dr. Watt's study is illustrated throughout by extracts from these wares, many of which are being reproduced for the first time. The production of this "cheap print" is an important chapter in book trade history, showing the increasing specialization of the ballad trade, and tracing for the first time the beginnings of the chapbook trade in the early seventeenth century. But much of this print was not only read; it was also to be sung or pasted as decoration on the wall. The ballad is placed in the context of contemporary musical culture, and the woodcut is related to the decorative arts—wall painting and painted cloth—which have been neglected by mainstream historians. At the same time, the book challenges the picture drawn by recent historians of a great gulf between Protestantism and "popular culture," showing the continuity of many aspects of traditional pre-Reformation piety—modified by Protestant doctrine—well into the seventeenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Cambridge University Press deserves our thanks for publishing a monograph that offers such a wealth of bibliographical detail." American Historical Review

"...remarkably creative, exhaustively researched, and consistently engaging study." The Catholic Historical Review

"This important book by Tessa Watt looks at the impact of the Reformation and the print 'revolution' on popular religious belief in England between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries through a detailed study of the cheapest printed wares produced in London...The end result is a rich and well-researched monograph, compellingly argued, that offers a powerful challenge to many commonly held assumptions about the nature of popular religiosity during this period." Albion

"This is an effective book, not least for its retrieval of often-forgotten sources and its complication of the distinction between godly and ungodly spheres of activity." David Cressy, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...impressive study of the popular religious literature of the 'long' Reformation, from Edward VI's reign to the eve of the civil war...." D.R. Woolf, Canadian Journal of History

" extraordinarily competent and valuable addition to the growing corpus of work on the culture of early modern England." Phyllis Mack, Journal of Modern History

"It is an important addition to the history of publishing but also offers compelling evidence for revisionist theories about cultural change in the early-modern period." Publishing Research Quarterly

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. The Broadside Ballad: 1. Small and popular music; 2. A Godly ballad to a Godly tune; 3. The 1642 Stock; Part II. The Broadside Picture: 4. Idols in the frontispiece; 5. Stories for walls; 6. Godly tables for good householders; Part III. The Chapbook: 7. The development of the chapbook trade; 8. Penny books and marketplace theology; Conclusion.

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