The Stripping of the Altars


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Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580
New Edition

Eamon Duffy

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This prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people’s experience of religion, showing that late-medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but a strong and vigorous tradition. For this edition, Duffy has written a new introduction reflecting on recent developments in our understanding of the period.

“A mighty and momentous book: a book to be read and re-read, pondered and revered; a subtle, profound book written with passion and eloquence, and with masterly control.”—J. J. Scarisbrick, The Tablet

“Revisionist history at its most imaginative and exciting. . . . [An] astonishing and magnificent piece of work.”—Edward T. Oakes, Commonweal

“A magnificent scholarly achievement, a compelling read, and not a page too long to defend a thesis which will provoke passionate debate.”—Patricia Morison, Financial Times

“Deeply imaginative, movingly written, and splendidly illustrated.”—Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books

Winner of the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Award

Eamon Duffy is a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and the author of The Voices of Morebath,Fires of Faith,Marking the Hours,Saints and Sinners, and Ten Popes Who Shook the World.

"A magnificent scholarly achievement, a compelling read, and not a page too long to defend a thesis which will provoke passionate debate."—Patricia Morison, Financial Times

"Duffy wants to show the vitality and appeal of late medieval Catholicism; and to prove that it exerted a diverse and vigorous hold over the imagination and loyalty of the people up to the very moment of Reformation. He suceeds triumphantly."—Susan Brigden, London Review of Books

"[This book] at last gives the culture of the late Middle Ages in England its due, and helps us to see the period as it was and not as Protestant reformers and their intellectual descendants imagined it to be. . . . A monumental and deeply felt work."—Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement

"Sensitively written and beautifully produced, this book represents a major contribution to the Reformation debate."—Norman Tanner, The Times, London

"A mighty and momentous book: a book to be read and re-read, pondered and revered; a subtle, profound book written with passion and eloquence, and with masterly control."—J. J. Scarisbrick, The Tablet

"This book will afford enjoyment and enlightenment to layman and specialist alike. Duffy sweeps the reader along through its six hundred pages by a style which eschews both jargon and pedantry, by his lively and absorbing detail, his piercing insights, patient analysis, and his vigor in debate."—Peter Heath, Times Literary Supplement

"With the publication of this book, a kind of map or illustrated atlas of late medieval English Christianity, English Reformation studies will never be the same again."—Patrick Collinson, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Revisionist history at its most imaginative and exciting. . . . [An] astonishing and magnificent piece of work."—Edward T. Oakes, Commonweal

"A valuable source of information supported with excellent illustrations and bibliography."—Choice

"Duffy's book is in every sense a substantial achievement. It is lengthy, carefully argued and researched, and illustrated with photographs of direct relevance to the argument. The tone is vigorous and alert, with occasional lyrical passages, and the author writes with clear sympathy and imaginative understanding about the disappearing world of medieval Catholicism. The book will mark a turning point in how several aspects of the English Reformation are considered by historians and the educated public. It will . . . contribute to an eventual shift in popular opinion and attitudes concerning the Reformation."—Robert Ombres, Moreana

"This is a remarkable and significant work of historical 'revision', which cannot be dismissed as a product of nostalgic longing for a Catholic past."—Anne Murphy SHCJ, John Pridmore, The Way

"A provocative new account of traditional religion in England between 1400 and 1580."—East Anglian Daily Times

"The importance of this book is that it affords opportunity to look broadly and comprehensively at the religious life of women and men before and after the separation from the Roman obedience and so take the measure of that life that in the continuum of English church history it can be noted and honored."—David Siegenthaler, Anglican Theological Review

"Deeply imaginative, movingly written, and splendidly illustrated."—Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books

"A landmark book in the history of the Reformation."—Ann Eljenholm Nichols, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Anyone who has an interest in the history of Catholicism in England in the 15th and 16th centuries will find this a rewarding and absorbing study. . . . The reader is treated to a detailed highly readable work which puts forward a thesis to challenge the often quoted view that the Catholic Church was in such a state of decay and unpopularity that the Reformation was almost inevitable. . . . The book is extremely well written and argued."—Bernard Bickers, The Universe

"A moving elegy for the pre-Reformation Church, full of evocative detail."—Thomas Cocke, Churchscape

"This is a quite remarkable, indeed brilliant, study, which puts flesh on the bones of the so-called 'revisionist' interpretation of the English Reformation. . . . This is essential reading for all those who wish to understand late medieval religion and the means by which it was undermined against the wishes of the vast majority of its practitioners."—Christopher Harper-Bill, Theology

"This is a monumental work. . . Duffy writes elegantly, handling complex and controversial subject matter in a way at once sober and factual. . . . A powerful book, superbly constructed and written, timely and often moving. It should be read by every historian of the medieval and early modern periods, by every Catholic, indeed by every Christian with a serious interest in the history of Christendom."—Evelyn Birge Vitz, Theological Studies

"This magnificently produced volume must rank as one of the most important landmarks in the study of late medieval English religion to have hitherto appeared, and it is unlikely to be superseded for quite some time. . . . The sheer scale of Duffy's achievement, the enormous value of the information he provides and the vigour and elegance with which he presents it, make his book, in every sense, a must."—Robert Peters, History Review

"This book is patently both a monument of scholarship and a labour of love. . . . A marvellously human book which has, in turn, the ability to restore life to the human beings whom it considers. One decisive historiographical shift of the past decade has been to take religion seriously again, in its own right, as a motivating force. Nobody has entered into that work with more empathy, and more affection, than Eamon Duffy."—Ronald Hutton, Journal of Theological Studies

"Scholars wishing to examine the causes of and the reasons for the success of the English Reformation will have to grapple with Duffy's comprehensive, sympathetic, and convincing portrayal of 'traditional religion'."—Joel Berlatsky, Albion

"Duffy [marshals] an impressive array of the latest local research . . . [and] demands of this body of information an interpretation which is sensible and balanced. . . . Duffy has produced a masterpiece of historical investigation and evaluation and this book must be read by any serious student of the English Reformation."—John Vidmar, o.p., The Thomist

"A work of massive learning. . . . bound to provoke debate."—A.K. McHardy, History

"A godsend for teachers: a goldmine of examples and illumination."—Diarmaid MacCulloch, Teaching History

"A very illuminating and satisfying book, which takes a major step towards better understanding of the English reformation."—Margaret Aston, English Historical Review

"Duffy presents the most richly detailed picture of the faith we possess. . . . Even the most skeptical reader will come away with a new sense of the complex religious heritage lost in the course of the sixteenth century."—Paul Seaver, Religious Studies Review

"A very important book. Doctor Duffy . . . has transformed the study of late medieval religion in England and has enormously buttressed the revisionists' view of the Reformation. . . . I know of no other description of medieval parish life so comprehensive in scope and so vivid in detail. It is a compelling and persuasive description that portrays the devotional life of the faithful not in terms of decay and nascent Protestantism, but in terms of rish, variegated religious practice."—Donald Logan, Canadian Catholic Review

"This is a work of exceptional importance, demonstrating massive erudition, great sympathy, and eloquence of style. It presents a marvelously detailed new picture of traditional religious belief and practice in England during the century prior to the Reformation and it shows exactly when and how the customs of faith and ceremony were stripped away in the sixteenth century. Our interpretation of the Reformation and our understanding of Tudor religion will never be the same."—Stanford Lehmberg, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Detailed and compelling. . . . [Duffy] has made a major contribution to the debate on the English Reformation with a book that will be discussed by historians for years to come."—Reverend Thomas J. Shelley, Church

"Excellent in its deployment of historical material and wise in its analysis of that material. . . . This book should be required reading for all students of theology and divinity."—Jon Davies, Religion

"An important work for the light it sheds on late medieval English religion, and for the breadth and depth of his description of that religion. His discussion of liturgical . . . deepens our understanding of late medieval piety."—D. Jonothan Grieser, Sewanee Theological Review

"Scholarly, compulsively readable and revolutionary in thesis. . . Scholars of the period will enjoy the controversy and the general reader will . . . be carried back empathetically to the days when religion was not as we know it now."—Gillian Mottram, Faith and Freedom

"Will appeal to both the professional historian and to anyone interested in English ecclesiastical history. . . . This is an important book and a significant contribution to Reformation studies. No serious student of the period can avoid the arguments presented in this work."—Rene Kollar, The Catholic Historical Review

"An outstanding history of the English Reformation."—Commonweal

"[This book] is everything that a Catholic History should be: meticulously researched, thoroughly documented, powerfully argued, and passionately written."—Wanderer

"Magisterial. . . . A marvel of historical scholarship, one of those books that comes along once in a generation."—Christopher Shannon, Books & Culture

“This prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people’s experience of religion, showing that late-medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but a strong and vigorous tradition.”—Englewood Review of Books
ISBN: 9780300254419
Publication Date: July 12, 2022
720 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
143 b/w illus.
The Stripping of the Altars

Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580
Second Edition

Eamon Duffy

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The Voices of Morebath

Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Eamon Duffy

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Marking the Hours

English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570

Eamon Duffy

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Fires of Faith

Catholic England under Mary Tudor

Eamon Duffy

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Saints and Sinners

A History of the Popes
Fourth Edition

Eamon Duffy

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