Eamon Duffy. Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. xiv + 202 pp


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Eamon Duffy. _Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570_. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. xiv + 202 pp.

Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-300-11714-1.

Read for part 2 Talbots
Reviewed for H-Albion by Rebecca Krug, Department of English, University of Minnesota Books of Hours and Their Readers
Eamon Duffy's _Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers,1240-1570_ is about late medieval readers and their use of Books of Hours. As Duffy explains, Books of Hours (also called primers or horae) were illustrated Latin prayerbooks. Before the introduction of print, Books of Hours were owned primarily by the financially advantaged. According to Duffy, nearly eight hundred manuscript Books of Hours are extant from medieval England. Widespread before the end of the fifteenth century, they increased in popularity as print made them available to a broader audience. Books of Hours fell out of favor in the later sixteenth century, Duffy states, because they "could not long survive as a Protestant devotional tool" (p. 171).
Duffy's main concern in _Marking the Hours_ is to demonstrate how medieval people used their Books of Hours. Scholarly, contemporary interest in the primers has centered on their status as art objects, and most studies of Books of Hours have been conducted by art historians and are concerned with the books' illustrations. Duffy, in contrast, takes as his central object of investigation the emendations and additions to the books made by their owners. Duffy sets out to articulate the central importance of the primers to late medieval society, and he is particularly interested in the lessons the physical nature of the books can teach us about "interiority" in the period.

_Marking the Hours_ offers a useful general history of the nature of medieval Books of Hours. It draws attention to basic elements of the primers, and is particularly helpful on the subject of their affinities with service books for the clergy. Duffy explains that the books were almost always in Latin and that they offered the laity a "slimmed down and simplified share in the Church's official cycle of daily prayer" (p.59). He briefly discusses the primers' contents, outlining the material that generally appeared in the books while at the same time noting that the content varied. _Marking the Hours_ also includes numerous illustrations that illustrate primers' changes over time.

Duffy breaks the ten chapters of _Marking the Hours_ into three parts. Part 1 offers an overview of the contents and history of Books of Hours. Part 2 is composed of a chapter in which Duffy argues against the idea that Books of Hours promoted individualism and selfishness as well as three case studies of primers and their owners. The case studies arethose of John Talbot and the Talbot Hours, Edmund Roberts and the Roberts Hours, and Thomas More and his printed Book of Hours. Part 3explores the changes in Books of Hours before the Reformation, with the introduction of print, and after, with the rise to prominence of Protestantism and religious practices that differed from those from the earlier period.

Parts 1 and 3 will be especially useful to readers who want to know about the basic historical progression of Books of Hours--from luxurious illuminated texts to mass productions with, according to Duffy, generally inferior illustrations, and, finally, to printed editions. Parts 1 and 3 explore the nature of the evidence that Books of Hours can provide. Part 1 states that the primers often included personal information and annotations, including customized references to the owner's name, as well as handwritten additions and marginal comments that ranged from the pious to the secular. Part 3 describes the kinds of deletions and changes that were made to the Catholic Books of Hours after the Reformation. These included elimination of names of popes and saints, for example, and the deletion of prohibited terms such as "purgatory."

Part 2, sandwiched between the more broadly focused sections, is for readers interested in analysis of specific Books of Hours. In part 2,Duffy advances his claim that reading Books of Hours was an "intimate" practice but that that intimacy does not necessarily imply a "regrettable privatising of religion" (p. 97). The reading of primers was part of the communal, mainstream nature of prayer in the later Middle Ages, according to Duffy, and he argues that Books of Hours did not encourage "individuality" but, rather reinforced shared religious ideals. The aim of part 2, then, is to demonstrate how three individual readers used their Books of Hours in this way. For this reason, rather than dealing with the "routine contents" of these primers, the chapters in part 2 look at the "non-standard material which people added to their books" (pp. 67-68).

The first of these case studies is an analysis of the Book of Hours commissioned by John Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury. Talbot was an aristocratic soldier who fought in France, and his Book of Hours reflects his concerns as a military man. In particular, Talbot had prayers added to the book over the course of his lifetime, and these prayers were concerned with safety and salvation. Some of these included prayers to be said on the battlefield. Further, his personal interests, according to Duffy, influenced the primer's inclusion of material related to St. George, who was associated with chivalric deeds and the order of the Garter.

Talbot's Book of Hours was personally commissioned and included portraits of Talbot and his wife. In contrast, Duffy's second case study is a mass-produced manuscript book owned by the Roberts family of Middlesex. Many blank pages were left at the back of the book, and the family filled them with devotional material, and charms in Latin and English. Duffy maintains that these additions suggest the "instrumental" nature of the family's religious interests, and place them in the mainstream of late medieval religious culture and society.

The third study is of Thomas More's Book of Hours. More's is a printedBook of Hours published in 1530 by Regnault. It includes a manuscriptprayer composed by More written in at the top and bottom of severalpages and a Latin psalter bound at its back, which More had annotatedheavily. Duffy finds that the parts of More's book that show the mostuse are those popular with his contemporaries, such as the Fifteen Oesand the Penitential Psalms. Going on to consider More's manuscriptprayer, Duffy concludes that from studying his Book of Hours we canconclude that More's religious understanding was conventional andoutward-looking. "More's devotional instinct moves towards the humancondition in general, and to the universally applicable disciplines ofthe spiritual life" (p. 116). More, then, becomes for Duffy an importantexample of the way that Books of Hours fit into a religious culture thatfostered social consciousness rather than "growing individualism, socialanomie, and alienation" (p. 118).

Duffy, part of the growing number of historians revising our picture ofthe relationship between medieval Catholicism and sixteenth-centuryProtestantism, sees Books of Hours as important keys to understandingthe public and social nature of late medieval religion. He does thisvery eloquently in _Marking the Hours_. Yet as convincing as he is,Duffy does leave readers with a number of questions. Since, for example,Books of Hours became increasingly popular and more and more people wereusing the books, how did this change devotional culture? If, as Duffyinsists, the move was not toward private interiority, then what was it?How did intense and "intimate" reading of Books of Hours in the laterMiddle Ages influence people's lives and change the way they thoughtabout religion? Even if it was "social" and "public," as Duffy insists,it seems at least worth considering how the introduction of Books ofHours into devotional life changed things. Similarly, although Duffymentions that women were frequent owners of Books of Hours, he does notoffer an explanation of gender differences in use of the books and hiscase studies are concerned with two male owners and a family. Finally,Duffy avoids discussion of a subject that seems baffling to modernreaders: why were Books of Hours primarily in Latin--even some of thelater additions to the primers were in Latin--if they were simplifiedprayer books for lay readers? How might we think about lay literacy inLatin? How much or how little might lay readers have understood? Theseare all questions that Duffy raises as he investigates the "intimate"nature of the primers in this fascinating and beautifully illustratedbook.

G. W. Bernard. _The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking ofthe English Church_. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. xii + 736pp. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $40.00 (cloth),ISBN 978-0-300-10908-5; $22.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-300-12271-8.

Buy this as it is essential for thesis (about £12)
Reviewed for H-Albion by Barrett L. Beer, Department of History, Kent State University
The Reformation Revised and Reassessed
As the title clearly indicates, this book is a study of the EnglishReformation during the reign of Henry VIII. What the title does notreveal is that this is not merely a new interpretation but a very large,polemical work that challenges most of the accepted scholarship of thepast half century. The substantial body of the book contains six topicalchapters some of which are over one hundred pages in length and heavilydocumented. In fact one chapter contains no fewer than 888 endnotes. The reader, who is not easily intimidated by sheer length and possessed ofgreat patience, discovers that George Bernard, editor of the _EnglishHistorical Review_, has produced a highly readable book in which theauthor's arguments are set forth with vigor and clarity.

The fundamental thesis of the book is simple and straight forward: HenryVIII provided the inspiration and leadership for the Reformation fromthe inception of the divorce proceedings through the monasticdissolution until his death in 1547. The king's ministers and bishops,Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Stephen Gardiner,played supporting roles in which they did as the king directed with veryfew exceptions. To achieve his objective the author challenges andrejects the scholarship of an impressive list of historians beginningwith Sir Geoffrey Elton and including John Scarisbrick, John Guy,Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christopher Haigh, Michael Bush, and Susan Brigden.According to Bernard, Sir Thomas More, the most famous opponent of theKing's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, was not so much a politicalthreat as one who bore witness to "his profound conviction of the moralauthority of Christendom" (p. 151). From the beginning, Henry VIII, whowas no conservative, sought to reshape the English church alongreformist and Erasmian lines (p. 237). The dissolution of the smallermonasteries reflected the king's desire to "reform and purify" thechurch (p. 276), while the Ten Articles of 1536, elaborated in theclerical injunctions of the same year, articulated his commitment to the"middle way." Bernard sees the Pilgrimage of Grace, as well as theearlier Lincolnshire Rebellion, as popular risings in which commonersswore oaths and protested against, and attempted to reverse, thesuppression of the monasteries; he rejects the notion that Robert Aske'sdefense of the monasteries was based essentially on social and economicissues. He strongly criticizes what he calls the pervasive tendency ofrecent historiography to assume that revolts must have multiple causes.As the king's determination to suppress the monasteries was not subjectto negotiation, he dissembled in dealing with the rebels making Aske a"victim of royal deception" (p. 378).

In a formidable chapter of 119 pages it is argued that the king'sreligious policy shows a greater coherence and consistency that has beenallowed by historians emphasizing factional rivalry at court. The kingsought religious concord "based on his own religious convictions, bestcharacterized as a search for a middle way between Rome and Wittenberg,between Rome and Zurich" (p. 475). Although Archbishop Cranmer is oftenassociated with reformist efforts to shape religious policy, Bernarddisagrees. Most of what Cranmer did was "entirely consistent withHenry's policies as presented in this book" (p. 506). It is also shownthat claims that Cromwell actively strove for reforms not favored by theking rest on thin evidence. While the author concedes that Cromwell'spersonal views on the religious controversies of the 1530s areimpossible to establish, he contends that Cromwell's energeticinvolvement in the production of the English Bible fails "to clinch thecase for him as more of a religious reformer than was the king" (p.527). The fall of Thomas Cromwell in 1540, often presented as a complexconflict involving religious factions and the consequence of the king'sfailed marriage to Anne of Cleves, is reassessed. Here it is shown thatthe fall of Cromwell was not the work of factional enemies, but "thecalculated act of a tyrant," Henry VIII (p. 579). If the king is thehero of this account because he carried through a successful reformationof the church, he is also condemned as a wicked, bloodthirsty tyrant. Abold, ambitious book such as this offers the critic many opportunities .Ethan Shagan has already risen to the challenge and published adevastating critique of the book and its methodology.[1] Bernard'sreading of many critical documents will attract widespread dissent aswell as his low regard for modern scholarship. While it is argued thatHenry VIII was committed to the "middle way" in church reform, it is notclear whether it was located between Rome and Luther or between Rome andZurich. Bernard's rejection of multiple causation in his account of thePilgrimage of Grace may be one of the book's most vulnerable sections.Close reading will reveal a number of internal contradictions; forexample, it is argued that for Francis I and Charles V, Cromwellsymbolized the religious radicalism of the 1530s although the authoralso maintains that Cromwell's religious program was similar to theking's. It is also noteworthy that the book neglects the last years ofHenry VIII when chronic war and the emergence of new leadership in thepersons of Sir Edward Seymour and Sir John Dudley altered the politicalbalance of the country.

Bernard's interpretation of the Henrician Reformation contains echoes ofthe old concept of "Tudor despotism" and the views of A. F. Pollard.[2]Whatever one's assessment of this book, it is a safe prediction that itsconclusions will be vigorously debated and challenged, while the authorwill undoubtedly welcome the opportunity to reaffirm his majorarguments. It is most unlikely that the Henrician Reformation willbecome a historical backwater in the foreseeable future.


[1]. _Journal of British Studies_ 45 (October 2006): 889-891.

[2]. A. F. Pollard, _Henry VIII_ (London: Longmans, Green, 1925),


Subject: REV: Hurl-Eamon on French and Barry, eds., _Identity and

Agency in England_

From: nekey@eiu.edu

Date: October 18, 2007 12:18:14 PM EDT (CA)


Published by H-Albion@h-net.msu.edu (October 2007)

Henry French and Jonathan Barry, eds. _Identity and Agency in

England, 1500-1800_. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. xi + 254 pp.

Tables, figures, notes, bibliography, index. $79.95 (cloth), ISBN

1-4039-1764-7. Borrow from the Library

Reviewed for H-Albion by Jennine Hurl-Eamon, Department of History,

Trent University

Free to Be?
Determining how people in the past understood themselves and others has both fascinated and challenged social historians in recent decades. One of the most difficult questions is how much control individuals and groups had in defining themselves and their place in society, and this is the focus of _Identity and Agency in England, 1500-1800_. The overarching message of the book is that identity was formed by a complex negotiation between individual interests and the dictates of society. People had a significant role in constructing their own identities, and they often did so in fascinating ways, but always within parameters dictated by things like class and gender.

The authors in this essay collection tackle the question of identity from a variety of angles and the essays align and intersect in diverse ways. Steve Hindle, Peter King, Alexandra Shepard, Craig Muldrew, and Helen Barry all investigate the impact of class upon identity, though each approaches the issue with his or her own particular questions. Many examine those of the "middling sort," who--Muldrew underscores--could have experiences of both poverty and wealth within their own lifetime. Traditional middling ethics of pride in industry and morality were found in a wider variety of identities in early modern England. Even those deserving of poor relief, Steve Hindle's essay indicates, were expected to exhibit these qualities in order to be so adjudged. Industriousness was not exclusively a masculine trait, as both Shepard and Judith Spicksley illustrate. Shepard's investigation of concepts of honesty reveals that both men and women saw honor and pride in working hard. Seventeenth-century spinsters also attempted to identify themselves as hard-working heads of households or minders of children.

Collective identities did not revolve solely around class, of course. Gender figures in many of the essays, but most centrally in Spicksley's investigation of spinsterhood. Spicksley looks at the evolving definition of the word "spinster" through the seventeenth century, and argues that single women struggled valiantly against a social tide that upheld marriage as the ultimate goal of all respectable women. Phil Withington looks at a very different context of identity: the city corporation. Contrary to traditional historical depictions of acts of incorporation, which speak in terms of oligarchic oppression, Withington advises an interpretive shift. Tudors looked to Aristotelian ideals of aristocracy rather than democracy, and the incorporation was associated as much with protection and preservation as with exclusivity and privilege. Withington's investigation of the sixteenth-century disputes over the re-incorporation of Ludlow stands apart from the other essays on identity in the book. Rather than exploring how individual identities were carved out within surrounding society, this essay looks at the internal and external negotiations of a corporate identity. Conflicting and selective interpretations of custom bore a significant role in forging this corporate identity, as Withington argues.

Other themes emerge much more subtly in the collection, but are no less significant. Indeed, the book would have been strengthened by editorial acknowledgement of these connections. Several essays allude to physical forms of identification, and offer insight into how material culture figures in social understanding. The most visible is Spicksley's account of spinsters appropriating the hood and scarf that had signified an early modern woman's status as a wife. Steve Hindle also pursues the theme of clothing as identity in his discussion of paupers' badges. He insightfully argues that-- rather than a mark of humiliation--these badges may have been perceived as a form of "livery," denoting the qualities of piety, industriousness, sobriety, and deference popularly understood as the necessary traits of the "deserving" poor. Peter King reveals the other side: the bitterness and humiliation with which recipients of poor relief viewed the parish brands affixed to their furniture by overseers trying to recover some of their expenditures. Withington refers only fleetingly to disputes over the apparel of burgesses, but also describes town charters as physical objects, the access to which helped identify and set apart city leaders. The intersection between intellectual and material modes of identification also appears in Helen Berry's essay, when gentleman John Marsh expressed discomfort with having to keep a carriage and offer lavish entertainments to reciprocate those of his wealthier neighbors. Several essays also make mention of spatial connoters of identity, such as church seating. Though sparse, these allusions to the visual culture of identification make an appearance in almost all of the essays, and suggest an avenue of further inquiry.

At times, the book seems to lack cohesiveness, but this is more a problem of the genre than of _Identity and Agency in England_ in particular. The collection emerges from papers given at a University of Exeter Colloquium in 2002, and it is always a difficult task for both authors and editors to maintain a consistent tone. Many of the insights are not groundbreaking, but rather reinforce accepted historical norms. That industry and sobriety were strong middling values in the early modern period is not new information, nor is the notion that married status conveyed honor upon men as well as women. We also have already been made aware of the volatility of middling fortunes, and that most early modern women--married and single--were expected to be active contributors to the household economy. Nonetheless, by exploring these issues in the context of identity, the essay contributors are able to reinforce their validity and shed new light on how these traits operated at a personal level.

The authors make use of an incredible variety of sources with great care and insight. Autobiographies are brought into several essays to provide richly nuanced accounts of how certain individuals constructed their own identities, and how they perceived those around them. Peter King, who makes the most concentrated use of this source, acknowledges the methodological issues surrounding the genre, and devotes several pages to convincingly justify its usefulness for this particular line of inquiry. A variety of legal records buttress other investigations into identity, from probate and Excise court records to witnesses' depositions in the ecclesiastical courts. All are carefully interrogated; their evidence is weighed according to the factors that may have affected the generation of the source in question. Parish poor relief records, taxation data, popular fiction, diaries, and letters round out the impressive assemblage of material brought to bear upon the issue of identity. The authors are to be highly commended for the creativity with which they have pursued their investigation.

One of the greatest strengths of _Identity and Agency in England_ is its many colourful examples that illustrate men and women offering their own views, or reacting to others' sense of their identity. It is a fascinating look at the ways in which early modern men and women were free to be themselves, and the ways in which their identities were circumscribed by their marital status, age, gender, and class.

Andrew Pettegree. _Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion_. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. xi + 237 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $70.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-5218-4175-5; $25.99 (paper), ISBN 0-5216-0264-5.

Reviewed for H-Albion by Jonathan Wright, Hartlepool, United Kingdom
How to Make a Reformation Work borrow from library (too wide)

Determining the motivations of those who embraced the evangelical cause during the sixteenth century has been one of the great quests of recent Reformation scholarship. How many people genuinely understood the theological ideas of Martin Luther, John Calvin, et. al.? How many other people became members of Reformed Churches grudgingly, haphazardly, or by dint of political circumstances? How far can we really trust contemporary conversion narratives when they are so often suspiciously formulaic or exhibit a decidedly propagandist edge? While Andrew Pettegree does not ignore such questions, his excellent book does not dwell on them: perhaps he senses that offering an adjudication of the qualitative success of the Reformation is a thankless labor. Instead, he starts out from an unassailable premise: some people clearly _did_ make considered and often brave decisions to embrace the new faith. How, then, were they persuaded to do so? This is a much-studied area, but Pettegree does an excellent job of summarizing current research, elucidating the virtues and limitations of the various media the Protestant Churches had at their disposal, and, most importantly, challenging a host of historiographical assumptions and orthodoxies. The book serves as both an informed synthesis and a pointer towards numerous avenues of future research. It also demonstrates an impressive geographical range, confirming Pettegree's previously articulated commitment to understanding the Reformation as a series of distinct, but interlinked, regional phenomena that shared a common European context. Members of H-Albion will also be pleased to learn that, while Pettegree spends much of his time looking at the Continent, there are numerous references to events and developments in England.
The book explores different methods of persuasion in oral, visual,

and written culture, always stressing that these realms were

constantly informing and shoring up one another. It begins at the

front line of the Reformation struggle: the pulpit. After a brief

summary of the medieval preaching tradition (and Pettegree usefully

provides medieval context for all of his subjects), we are introduced

to an infuriating interpretative obstacle. Typcially, we only have

printed (often much-edited) versions of sixteenth-century sermons;

most of what we have of Luther's endless sermonizing, for instance,

derives from notes taken by adoring students in his congregations.

How accurately do such texts reflect what was actually said at the

time? This presents a crucial issue if we seek to understand how

preachers endeavored to win audiences over. As Pettegree explains, we

can assert with certainty that preaching provided a platform for

clerical activism, while insisting on the appointment of more radical

preachers clearly represented some of the Reformation's first

instances of lay assertiveness. We can also gain a decent impression

of the themes that were hammered home. (Pettegree, in tune with

recent scholarship, for instance, stresses that the content of early

Lutheran sermons was far more diverse than previously believed.)

Sadly, none of this gets us much closer to knowing what attending an

early modern sermon felt like. And that, so far as understanding

persuasion is concerned, is terribly important. We will never know,

of course; but, Pettegree's analysis does a good job of explaining

the different strategies (the mingling of terror and reassurance, the

blending of sober exegesis and passionate outburst) that were

available to preachers. There are pithy accounts of the preaching of

Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, Calvin, and Heinrich Bullinger, and the

innovative nature of the Reformation sermon (not least the fact that

it became a regular rather than an occasional event) is rightly

stressed, along with the fact that the leaders of Reformed Churches

were as convinced as their medieval forebears that preaching was a

sacred, specialized duty, best left to well-trained experts.

Similarly wide-ranging accounts of drama and song come next. We see

how reformers exploited the tradition of medieval carnival plays and

fastened upon the burgeoning phenomenon of humanist biblical drama.

Theater, in the broadest sense, operated very efficiently, both in

the relatively secure homelands of Reform and, as a kind of coded

religious dissent, in less salubrious locations. There is an

especially useful account of the history of religious drama in

England, which traces the theatrical tradition all the way from the

boisterous offerings of John Bale to the emergence of Godly

opposition to the stage and the flowering of professional London-

based theatrical companies. As for song, much recent research has

shown that it has long been the neglected hero of Reformation

persuasion. Moving the medieval passion for communal singing into the

church was a masterstroke. Communal solidarity could be fostered,

disconcerting theological innovations could be made more palatable,

and (outside the church building, in the polemical songs of the

street and tavern) confessional enemies could be lambasted. Pettegree

stresses that not only the homely tunes of Luther had a phenomenal

impact. In their way, the more austere metrical psalms of Geneva also

had a knack of inspiring the faithful; in England, among the

Huguenots of France or the embattled Protestants of the Netherlands,

they became badges of solidarity and commitment.

Naturally, any account of how people were persuaded to embrace

Protestantism eventually comes up against the fabled woodcut. Ever

since Robert Scribner's magisterial account of the subject, we have

been accustomed to assuming that these powerful images did more than

anything else to turn the Lutheran Reformation into a genuinely

popular movement.[1] Pettegree does not necessarily dispute this (his

praise for Scribner is fulsome), but he asks us to adjust our opinion

somewhat. He begins by floating the idea that, because lots of people

had uncorrected, terrible eyesight in the sixteenth century, the

power of the visual image was severely constricted. Perhaps--although

what this means for the power of the visual image over the entire

course of pre-modern human history is too extraordinary to

contemplate. It is probably just easier to assume that people were

able to bring the image in question a little closer or hold it at

arms-length, according to their ocular needs. Far more valuable is

Pettegree's assault on the ingrained notion that the visual image was

somehow easier to understand than a printed text. Is that necessarily

so? The woodcuts of the Reformation, Pettegree asserts, were often

very sophisticated, and packed full of allusions that only the

initiated could hope to interpret. Admittedly, such images were often

accompanied by explanatory texts, but that hardly helped the

illiterate. Pettegree also queries the notion that, because literate

people in the sixteenth century would habitually read such texts

aloud to their less well-educated peers, this was not an insuperable

problem. He startlingly reveals that, aside from the venerable

tradition of communal Bible reading, there is very little evidence of

such reading-aloud. Besides, if it did happen, then it would have

involved an extraordinary subversion of social hierarchies. Are we

really to assume, Pettegree asks, "that a master craftsman should

break off from his work to read to his apprentices?" He claims "this

is, in sixteenth century terms, truly the world turned upside

down" (p. 119). This is a very interesting suggestion, as is

Pettegree's point that several popular Reform movements (in France

and, before 1566, the Netherlands) succeeded without any great help

from the visual image.

All of which leaves us, of course, with the book. That the book made

the Reformation and that the Reformation changed the book are

familiar mantras, and they are so self-evidently true that Pettegree

does not intend to dispense with them. Instead, he again asks us to

revise our interpretation. We assume that, when someone bought a book

in the sixteenth century, they read it from cover to cover and, so

the author doubtless hoped, were persuaded by its contents. Is that

really what happened? At this point Pettegree launches into a

charming, if distracting, account of his own reading habits. He has

many books he will never read, others he skims through, others that

are souvenirs, others that were gifts. Such meditations at least

serve to prod Pettegree towards a fascinating and expansive

interpretation of the role of the book in early modern culture.

Perhaps people bought books as, again, badges of identity. Perhaps

they collected inexpensive pamphlets to establish reference

collections. If they did, then the reductive schema of "buy a book

and be persuaded by its contents" is certainly dented. He makes an

excellent point.

In these chapters about the written word, Pettegree also provides a

sterling account of the economic realities of religious book

production, showing how, in very different circumstances, Wittenberg

and Geneva both established highly organized, sometimes perilous, and

(for some) very profitable enterprises. As a pointer to a definitive

systematic survey of the economics of early modern religious

publishing (a Herculean but much-needed project), this part of

Pettegree's volume is very valuable.

The book concludes with an instructive chapter and coda about how the

processes of persuasion evolved later in the sixteenth century. One

might take issue with Pettegree's assertion that, by 1580, most of

Europe's confessional identities had essentially been fixed, but

there was, in many places, far more security for those of Reformed

sympathies: erstwhile heresiarchs were now remembered as founders of

well-entrenched religions. The work of persuasion continued, of

course, and Pettegree traces how any number of initiatives--

catechizing, liturgical calendar reform, the production of

martyrologies--helped to foster a sense of Christian kinship and


There is a great deal to ponder in this illuminating book. It is

written with Pettegree's customary clarity, it selflessly doffs its

cap to the work of other historians, and it rightly stresses that the

business of religious persuasion was often a communal, shared event.

There are (as there always should be) ideas to which not everyone

will assent, but the book certainly forces the reader to question

many assumptions about how early modern people took the dramatic step

of casting off one faith so that they might embrace another.


[1]. R. W. Scribner, _For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda

for the German Reformation_ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,


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