Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England

Paperback | July 15, 2004

byPeter Marshall

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This is the first comprehensive study of one of the most important aspects of the Reformation in England: its impact on the status of the dead. Protestant reformers insisted vehemently that between heaven and hell there was no 'middle place' of purgatory where the souls of the departed couldbe assisted by the prayers of those still living on earth. This was no remote theological proposition, but a revolutionary doctrine affecting the lives of all sixteenth-century English people, and the ways in which their Church and society were organized.This book illuminates the (sometimes ambivalent) attitudes towards the dead to be discerned in pre-Reformation religious culture, and traces (up to about 1630) the uncertain progress of the 'reformation of the dead' attempted by Protestant authorities, as they sought both to stamp out traditionalrituals and to provide the replacements acceptable in an increasingly fragmented religious world. It also provides detailed surveys of Protestant perceptions of the afterlife, of the cultural meanings of the appearance of ghosts, and of the patterns of commemoration and memory which becamecharacteristic of post-Reformation England. Together these topics constitute an important case-study in the nature and tempo of the English Reformation as an agent of social and cultural transformation.The book speaks directly to the central concerns of current Reformation scholarship, addressing questions posed by 'revisionist' historians about the vibrancy and resilience of traditional religious culture, and by 'post-revisionists' about the penetration of reformed ideas. Dr Marshall demonstratesnot only that the dead can be regarded as a significant 'marker' of religious and cultural change, but that a persistent concern with their status did a great deal to fashion the distinctive appearance of the English Reformation as a whole, and to create its peculiarities and contradictoryimpulses.

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This is the first comprehensive study of one of the most important aspects of the Reformation in England: its impact on the status of the dead. Protestant reformers insisted vehemently that between heaven and hell there was no 'middle place' of purgatory where the souls of the departed couldbe assisted by the prayers of those still liv...

Peter Marshall is a Senior Lecturer in History, University of Warwick.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:356 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.84 inPublished:July 15, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199273723

ISBN - 13:9780199273720

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Presence of the Dead: Memory and Obligation before the Reformation2. Debates over the Dead: Purgatory and Polemic in Henrician England3. 'Rage against the Dead': Reform, Counter-Reform, and the Death of Purgatory4. The Regulation of the Dead: Ritual and Reform in the English Church, c.1560-16305. The Estate of the Dead: The Afterlife in the Protestant Imagination6. The Disorderly Dead: Ghosts and their Meanings in Reformation England7. Remembering the Dead: Commemoration and Memory in Protestant CultureConclusionBibliography of Printed Primary SourcesIndex

Editorial Reviews

`How people in early modern England thought they could relate to the dead is the subject of Peter Marshall's insightful and luminously written Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England.'The Way