The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580

by Eamon Duffy

Paperback(Older Edition)

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This major revisionist account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people's experience of religion in 15th-century England. Eamon Duffy shows that late medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but was a strong and vigorous tradition, and that the Reformation represented a violent rupture from a popular and theologically respectable religious system.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300060768
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 12/23/1992
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 666
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Eamon Duffy is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and President of Magdalene College. He is the author of Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes and The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village, both available in paperback from Yale University Press.

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The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Pianojazz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For me, "The Stripping of the Altars" was an eye-opener. Most of us who have a cursory knowledge of the English Reformation have been led to believe that the medieval Roman Catholic Church in England had stagnated, that it was hopelessly corrupt, and that it no longer met the spiritual needs of the English people. Duffy puts the lie to that myth. He shows, instead, that late medieval English Catholicism was alive, vibrant, and relevant. Why, then, did Henry VIII ultimately succeed with his Reformation? Was it the violence, the threat of torture, of having one's property expropriated, one's family destroyed? Certainly Mary Tudor, in forcibly returning England to the Catholic fold, was guilty of as many excesses as was her despotic father. Yet it took Elizabeth, with her "middle way", to finally secure England for the Protestant cause, albeit at a cost. Neither truly Catholic nor truly Protestant (i.e., Calvinist), Elizabeth and her advisers succeeded in crafting what has today become the Anglican Communion, a most interesting blend of both versions of Christianity. (Indeed, a dear friend of mine, a lapsed Catholic and now an Episcopalian, refers to the U.S. version of Anglicanism as "Catholic lite.")Those of us who have followed the travails of the Anglican Communion in recent months know just how fragile are the bonds of fellowship holding Anglicanism together. Elizabeth never succeeded in totally reconciling the authoritarian nature of Catholicism with the individuality of Protestantism; the magisterium of the Church pitted against the believer's "walk with Jesus." That tension still exists today in all branches of the Anglican Communion--many yearn for a hierarchy eager to tell the believer how to live, what to believe, and how to get into heaven; certainty as preferable to ambiguity; black and white over shades of gray.Duffy, to his credit, shows why Catholicism was so compelling to its adherents. Indeed, in reading the memoirs of various Anglicans, lay and clergy, who have converted to Catholicism in the intervening years, in worshiping in the Roman Catholic Mass, and in viewing the travails of 21st century Anglicanism, one understands Catholicism's continuing allure. Duffy's book shows us that the modern Christian's needs aren't so different from those of six centuries ago.
AnnaRichenda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely fabulous. A must.
PollyMoore3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"On certain feasts objects to be blessed might be brought up at this point: candles at Candlemas, butter, cheese, and eggs at Easter, apples on St James's day". A serious piece of historical research that also makes me feel vividly present in late medieval England, joining in the feasts and penances and rituals, and later on helping to hide the church treasures when they were banned. There's no doubt reform was needed, but I believe this traumatic break, a cultural revolution imposed from above, was a massive blow to the English psyche from which it has never really recovered.Deservedly popular, this book is always going out on request from the public library where I work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is about the The English Protestant Reformation from the point of view of a Catholic, which gives it an unique insight. However, the sources are written in Old English and are hardly understandable, and the book leaves much doubt to his original thesis.