The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Religion, War, Famine and Death in Reformation Europe / Edition 1

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Using the prism of Dúrer's woodcut, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Andrew Cunningham and Ole Grell offer a new and exciting interpretation of European history in the period 1490 to 1648. Dúrer's image came to characterize the outlook of most early modern Europeans, who saw repeated episodes of war, epidemics and famine as indicating the imminent end of the world. Lavishly illustrated with fascinating contemporary images, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse brings together religious, social, military and medical history, giving readers a unique insight into the early modern world. Andrew Cunningham is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in the University of Cambridge. His most recent book is The Anatomical Renaissance (1997). Ole Peter Grell is a Lecturer in Early Modern History at the Open University, Milton Keynes. Among his recent books are Calvinist Exiles in Tudor and Stuart England (Scolar Press, 1997) and Paracelsus: The Man and His Reputation (Brill Academic Publishers, 1998). Together the authors have published Health Care and Poor Relief in Protestant Europe 1500-1700 (Routledge, 1997) and Health Care and Poor Relief in Counter-Reformation Europe (Routledge, 1999). Since 1998 they have edited the series History of Medicine in Context published by Ashgate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...the authors of this new study make a significant contribution to the discussion...Their effort...provides an enlightening and valuable contribution to the study of the role of eschatology in the early modern world that will hold much interest for students of that period." Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Albrecht D rer's famous woodcut of the four horsemen as described in the Book of Revelation has been studied at great length and from many angles. However, the authors of this new study make a significant contribution to the discussion by demonstrating that contemporary folk consciously used this particular image to better understand the troubles that beset them and to frame these crises in an intelligible and meaningful context. As Cunningham and Grell, of Cambridge University and the Open University, respectively, maintain, D rer's Four Horsemen informed the sense of apocalyptic dread that permeated European society from about 1490 until 1648, when the end of the 30 Years War brought about a more stabilized society that no longer used the Apocalypse as its defining paradigm. D rer, of course, was not the first artist to create an image of the Apocalypse. However, the authors argue compellingly that what made D rer's image resonate so strongly with his contemporaries (and with generations of artists afterward) was that it showed all of the horsemen arriving together, thus unifying the three horsemen representing the crises of war, famine, disease and death with the rider of the white horse, who represented Judgment Day, an event feared daily by the men and women of the Middle Ages. Unlike authors who approach medieval European history from various, discrete lenses (e.g., military history, social history, Reformation history), Cunningham and Grell aver that they offer a more comprehensive understanding of the medieval worldview. Their effort, following the lead of Norman Cohen's defining Pursuit of the Millennium, provides an enlightening and valuable contribution to the study of the role of eschatology in the early modern world that will hold much interest for students of that period. 71 illus. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this new interpretation of European history, Cunningham and Grell (coeditors, Health Care and Poor Relief in Counter-Reformation Europe) contend that the four horsemen of Albrecht D rer's famous 1498 woodcut prefigure the religious conflict, war, famine, and pestilence that characterized the 16th and 17th centuries. According to the authors, church leaders' expectations of repeated European disasters can best be described as apocalyptic. The white horse represents religious conflicts among Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims of the Ottoman Empire; the red horse typifies two centuries of exhausting warfare; the black horse denotes centuries of famine owing to war and overpopulation; and the pale horse represents pestilence owing to all of the above. In support of this grim scenario, the authors offer reprints of 74 woodcuts depicting some of the most gruesome and grotesque images of this period of early modern history. The reader certainly gets the feeling that the book overstates its case. Historians today recognize that wars in these centuries were as much political as they were religious, while wars after 1648 were often as much religious as they were political. Recommended for academic libraries with large research collections. James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521467018
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 1,147,408
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; List of illustrations; 1. Introduction: an apocalyptic age; 2. The White Horse: religion, revelation and reformation; 3. The Red Horse: war, weapons and wounds; 4. The Black Horse: food, f(e)ast and famine; 5. The Pale Horse: disease, disaster and death; 6. Epilogue; Notes; Index.

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