The Reformation: A Historyby Patrick Collinson
Pub. Date: 09/05/2006
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
The religious reformations of the sixteenth century were the crucible of modern Western civilization, profoundly reshaping the identity of Europe’s emerging nation-states. In The Reformation, one of the preeminent/i>/i>/b>/i>
“No revolution however drastic has ever involved a total repudiation of what came before it.”
The religious reformations of the sixteenth century were the crucible of modern Western civilization, profoundly reshaping the identity of Europe’s emerging nation-states. In The Reformation, one of the preeminent historians of the period, Patrick Collinson, offers a concise yet thorough overview of the drastic ecumenical revolution of the late medieval and Renaissance eras. In looking at the sum effect of such disparate elements as the humanist philosophy of Desiderius Erasmus and the impact on civilization of movable-type printing and “vulgate” scriptures, or in defining the differences between the evangelical (Lutheran) and reformed (Calvinist) churches, Collinson makes clear how the battles for mens’ lives were often hatched in the battles for mens’ souls.
Collinson also examines the interplay of spiritual and temporal matters in the spread of religious reform to all corners of Europe, and at how the Catholic Counter-Reformation used both coercion and institutional reform to retain its ecclesiastical control of Christendom. Powerful and remarkably well written, The Reformation is possibly the finest available introduction to this hugely important chapter in religious and political history.
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I was under the impression that an "overview" would at least cover the basics (albeit not in depth). For a Regius Professor of Modern History, Collinson claims to have lectured on the subject for a very long time, which would suggest that he should be able to provide a coherent overview. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case. In an often opinionated style, Collinson jumps from one scene to the next, providing a collection of snapshots without the links. Whilst his "sniping" at some of the main characters has its amusing moments, and there is a lot of interesting information between the covers, I am not sure whether this book should be recommended for someone seeking either an "introduction" or "overview" of the subject, because unless a general understanding of the events is already present, reading this book is more likely to result in confusion and the simple question: why are we interested in this guy Luther in the first place?
A good overview and introduction to the topic. Because it is an introduction, the more indepth aspects of the movement are glossed over.