Fires of Faith


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Catholic England under Mary Tudor

Eamon Duffy

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The renowned author of The Stripping of the Altars takes a new and controversial look at the reign of England’s “Bloody Mary”

The reign of Mary Tudor has been remembered as an era of sterile repression, when a reactionary monarch launched a doomed attempt to reimpose Catholicism on an unwilling nation. Above all, the burning alive of more than 280 men and women for their religious beliefs seared the rule of “Bloody Mary” into the protestant imagination as an alien aberration in the onward and upward march of the English-speaking peoples.

In this controversial reassessment, the renowned reformation historian Eamon Duffy argues that Mary's regime was neither inept nor backward looking. Led by the queen's cousin, Cardinal Reginald Pole, Mary’s church dramatically reversed the religious revolution imposed under the child king Edward VI. Inspired by the values of the European Counter-Reformation, the cardinal and the queen reinstated the papacy and launched an effective propaganda campaign through pulpit and press.

Even the most notorious aspect of the regime, the burnings, proved devastatingly effective. Only the death of the childless queen and her cardinal on the same day in November 1558 brought the protestant Elizabeth to the throne, thereby changing the course of English history.

Eamon Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of many prize-winning books, including The Stripping of the Altars, Saints and Sinners, The Voices of Morebath, and Marking the Hours, all published by Yale University Press.

"Fires of Faith is a dazzling exercise in historical reappraisal, after which the reign of Mary Tudor will never look quite the same again."—Peter Marshall, Times Literary Supplement

"And now the learned, astonishingly productive Eamon Duffy has joined the fray, revising the revisionists upwards—dramatically. In this powerful, punchy book he argues that the Marian restoration of English Catholicism was much more than the rather low-profile and sometimes timid attempt to return to the past which even the recent revisionists have portrayed. No, says Duffy (and I must now agree), it was a full-blooded attempt to introduce into England the "new" Catholicism of the fledgling Counter-Reformation. . . . Once again, Eamon Duffy has changed the landscape of English Reformation history."—J.J. Scarisbridge, The Weekly Standard

‘We are once again indebted to Prof. Duffy – as we were in 1992 – for giving us a study that should help us to get a more balanced view of this decisive era in our country’s history’ — JM, Contemporary Review

‘This is an outstanding and confident work, as one would expect…Duffy’s book is very timely.’ — Ashley Beck, The Pastoral Review

"Duffy largely succeeds in his revisionist history of Catholic England under Mary Tudor. Dispelling some of the Foxean clouds that have obscured judgment, Fires of Faith reveals Marian reconstruction as a purposeful, ordered, and various movement."—Robert Miola, First Things

“A brilliant reassessment of England’s ‘Bloody Mary’.” — John Guy, Sunday Herald

“A fascinating piece of revisionist history.”— Sunday Times

“Completes the story of the English Reformation which began with the author’s masterpiece, The Stripping of the Altars.” — John Sumption, Spectator

‘Professor Eamon Duffy’s Fires of Faith is an authoritative, challenging Catholic polemic. He knocks on the head old-fashioned, Protestant myths … His book is convincing.’ Richard Wilkinson, History Review

‘It is the individual stories of religious persecution and suffering, which pepper the book, that leave the deepest impression on the reader.’ — Anna French, Theology

"For his imaginative questioning of received opinion, and for his careful work in dispelling untruths, this reasonably priced book is recommended to all academic libraries." —Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World

"Fires of Faith is a revisionist floodlight that not only makes use of new sources but reads old ones in original ways." —Brad S. Gregory, Commonweal

"[Fires of Faith] is a fascinating bit of history from a perspective that isn't often represented: pro- rather than anti-Catholic." —Ashley McCall,

"[Fires of Faith] will become a standard work vying with its author's previous writing in generating debate and forcing the close reassessments of established opinions.  As such, it will be welcomed even by those who find themselves disagreeing with parts of it." —John Flood, Renaissance Quarterly

'A fascinating piece of revisionist history.' — Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times Culture

"Duffy brings keen insight and thorough knowledge of his sources to this unabashedly revisionist assessment of Mary's reign. . . . A powerful revisionist statement and a valuable resource for understanding the reign of Mary Tudor."—Daniel Eppley, Religious Studies Review

"In this confident and persuasive work…. Duffy's use of vivid detail and the actual words of protagonists bring the reader within sniffing distance of the blazing stakes."—The Independent

“… vividly-written and forcefully-argued”—G.W. Bernard, English Historical Review

"This is an erudite, revisionist perspective on a topic many apparently thought was burned into historical truth. . . . Eamon Duffy brings insight, passion, and scholarly persistence. . . . Scholars and otherwise curious readers will find Fires of Faith's reassessment of the Catholic spirit of Marian England well worth ongoing consideration."—Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Anglican and Episcopal History

"This study is learned and eloquent, and does much to establish the credentials of a church that has suffered from centuries of adverse publicity. Even more, however, it demonstrates the perils of ideological conflict. The Protestants won by historical accident, but it is pure gain to see the other side of the story so ably presented."—David Loades, Journal of British Studies

"Fires of Faith is a daring and masterful reinterpretation of a key moment in English history and also in the history of Catholicism. Although many will surely challenge its assertions, this book’s significance is beyond dispute, precisely because it encourages disputation. Duffy questions the dominant narrative created by Protestants long ago and, in the process,opens doors that only the timid and the foolhardy will dare to ignore."—Carlos M. N. Eire, The Catholic Historical Review

"Duffy has once again written a book that opens new questions and will be indispensable for future considerations of Mary's reign."—Scott McGinnis, Journal of Religion

Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300168891
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
280 pages, 6 x 9
30 color illus.
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