Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648

Overview

A remarkable new volume in the critically acclaimed Penguin History of Europe series

From peasants to princes, no one was untouched by the spiritual and intellectual upheaval of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther?s challenge to church authority forced Christians to examine their beliefs in ways that shook the foundations of their religion. The subsequent divisions, fed by dynastic rivalries and military changes, fundamentally altered the relations between ruler and ruled....

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Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648

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Overview

A remarkable new volume in the critically acclaimed Penguin History of Europe series

From peasants to princes, no one was untouched by the spiritual and intellectual upheaval of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther’s challenge to church authority forced Christians to examine their beliefs in ways that shook the foundations of their religion. The subsequent divisions, fed by dynastic rivalries and military changes, fundamentally altered the relations between ruler and ruled. Geographical and scientific discoveries challenged the unity of Christendom as a belief community. Europe, with all its divisions, emerged instead as a geographical projection. Chronicling these dramatic changes, Thomas More, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Cervantes created works that continue to resonate with us.

Spanning the years 1517 to 1648, Christendom Destroyed is Mark Greengrass’s magnum opus: a rich tapestry that fosters a deeper understanding of Europe’s identity today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/13/2014
Though the Reformation is generally described as a period of great change, historian Greengrass (France in the Age of Henry IV) asks readers to consider the weakening of traditions and sources of power that accompanied the transition to the early modern era. The Catholic Church suffered as Copernicus’s theories disputed “Aristotelian physics, Holy Scripture, and daily experience,” while Martin Luther unexpectedly started a movement following the publication of his 95 theses. Greengrass’s detailed explanation of this process makes use of economic concepts like debasement and inflation and delves into specifics, such as regional diets, the inspired invention of the filing cabinet, the impact of climate change on the political landscape, and English Queen Jane Grey’s nine-day reign. The book is dense and best read in installments; it offers insight into the extraordinary turmoil that the average European endured in an era typically described through reverent admiration for art, architecture, and intellectual development. Using the histories of well-chosen cities and countries as examples for each discussion, Greengrass reveals that it was “curiosity destroyed Christendom.” (Dec.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-10-22
Greengrass (Emeritus, Early Modern History/Univ. of Sheffield; Living with Religious Diversity in Early Modern Europe, 2009, etc.) reaches deeply behind the early myth of a united Europe.The author focuses on the period of intensive religious conflicts that tore Catholic Europe apart from the advent of Lutheranism to the execution of King Charles I in England. The late-medieval sense of "Christendom" was more a "reflexive construction" than a reality, a geographical conglomeration of parishes across the landmass that owed their affiliation to the Holy Roman Empire, headed by Charles V from 1520 to 1555, the last emperor to be invested by the papacy. For the masses of mostly rural dwellers, social cohesion was determined by a foundation of material stability via hugely diverse patterns of habitation, marriage and family, diet (the Columbian Exchange had introduced more staples into the European diet, yet infant mortality and death by disease remained very high), agricultural systems, debt, laws of inheritance and an intermittent simmering of popular protest. Silver and gold from the New World spurred growing military conflicts among the European dynasties: the enriched Spanish monarchy, France's emergent absolutist Bourbon state, and the Netherlands' financial revolution that guaranteed the debts of the Habsburg overlords. Yet while "Christendom's belief-community" was held loosely together by its sense of "orthodoxy, genealogy, inheritance and knowledge," the threat exposing its fragility was not the Ottoman incursions but rather its own internal religious fissures. Greengrass devotes most of the second half of this hefty, scholarly study to these "conflicts in the name of God," from the German states to Poland-Lithuania to France, Spain and Britain. A tour de force of scholarship that begins with a gradual and accessible buildup and then descends, like the century, into a convulsion of dynastic entanglements.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670024568
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • Publication date: 11/28/2014
  • Pages: 752
  • Sales rank: 40,308
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Greengrass is a professor emeritus of early modern history at the University of Sheffield. He is an awardwinning historian, noted for his work on France and the Reformation. He lives and works in Paris, with affiliations to the University of Paris-IV (Centre Roland Mousnier).

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