The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village by Eamon DuffyThe Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village by Eamon Duffy

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

byEamon Duffy

Paperback | August 11, 2003

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In the fifty years between 1530 and 1580, England moved from being one of the most lavishly Catholic countries in Europe to being a Protestant nation, a land of whitewashed churches and antipapal preaching. What was the impact of this religious change in the countryside? And how did country people feel about the revolutionary upheavals that transformed their mental and material worlds under Henry VIII and his three children?

In this book a reformation historian takes us inside the mind and heart of Morebath, a remote and tiny sheep farming village on the southern edge of Exmoor. The bulk of Morebath's conventional archives have long since vanished. But from 1520 to 1574, through nearly all the drama of the English Reformation, Morebath's only priest, Sir Christopher Trychay, kept the parish accounts on behalf of the churchwardens. Opinionated, eccentric, and talkative, Sir Christopher filled these vivid scripts for parish meetings with the names and doings of his parishioners. Through his eyes we catch a rare glimpse of the life and pre-Reformation piety of a sixteenth-century English village.

The book also offers a unique window into a rural world in crisis as the Reformation progressed. Sir Christopher Trychay's accounts provide direct evidence of the motives which drove the hitherto law-abiding West-Country communities to participate in the doomed Prayer-Book Rebellion of 1549 culminating in the siege of Exeter that ended in bloody defeat and a wave of executions. Its church bells confiscated and silenced, Morebath shared in the punishment imposed on all the towns and villages of Devon and Cornwall. Sir Christopher documents the changes in the community, reluctantly Protestant and increasingly preoccupied with the secular demands of the Elizabethan state, the equipping of armies, and the payment of taxes. Morebath's priest, garrulous to the end of his days, describes a rural world irrevocably altered and enables us to hear the voices of his villagers after four hundred years of silence.
Eamon Duffy is reader in Church History in the University of Cambridge and president elect of Magdalene College. His previous books include The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, and Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, both published by Yale University Press.
Title:The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English VillageFormat:PaperbackPublished:August 11, 2003Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300098251

ISBN - 13:9780300098259

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Editorial Reviews

"Stories like the one Duffy skillfully tells here, for historian and general reader alike . . . bear remembering. And it is a story that can still be seen. . . . Duffy’s map of the parish in Tudor times remains accurate today."—Paul Lewis, New York Times Book Review"Social history at its most compelling."-Sunday Telegraph"This is an absorbing portrait of one small Devon village in the sixteenth century as it faced up to daily life and the upheavals of the English Reformation. . . . A series of vivid snapshots of ordinary life during a time of extraordinary change."—The Sunday Times (London)"Dr. Duffy’s presentation of the journals is quite brilliant. . . . The book is never dull: on the contrary, it reads like a very good novel. . . . This book should be assured of a place in the library of every Catholic school, primary as well as secondary. . . . Not to have read it will reduce one’s claim to be a well-informed English Catholic."—Mentor Magazine"[R]ichly detailed."—America"A unique and valuable record. . . . Eamon Duffy has written a classic account of how one small parish adapted to the bewildering changes of the Reformation."-Roger B. Manning, American Historical Review"This is an immensely appealing book, both for its physical appearance and its contents. . . . [Duffy] offers a plausible reading, that makes good use of these wonderful records."-Catholic Historical Review"Duffy’s book provides a poignant account of a priest and his parish struggling to adapt to a world that is changing too quickly. . . . The Voices of Morebath should appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike. It is an absorbing story, told largely through the words of the 'most vivid country clergyman of the English sixteenth century,' as well as an accomplished piece of regional Reformation history."—Holly Crawford Pickett, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval & Renaissance Studies"Admirers of Duffy’s justly acclaimed The Stripping of the Altars willwelcome this extended footnote to his argument that the Protestant Reformation was, for the most part, an elitist and violent imposition upon a solidly Catholic England. . . . It is a poignant story of people trying to hold on to their faith and community, but finally coming to terms with changes to which royal power gave the appearance of inevitability."—First Things"The Voices of Morebath will fascinate historians who already find the period exciting. Those who have considered themselves immune to the charms of Clio may be in for a pleasant surprise. This book deserves a wide readership."—Virginia Quarterly Review "Few other books accomplish such a vivid reconstruction of the past, and Duffy manages tit using the most prosaic documents."—Carlos Eire, Commonweal