The religious conflicts of sixteenth-century France, particularly the St. Bartholomew's Day massacres of 1572, continue to draw a good deal of attention from historians. What started as a limited coup against the Huguenot leadership became instead a conflagration that left two thousand or more Protestants dead in the streets and ushered in a series of bloody religious battles. Until now, however, historians have been preoccupied with the political aspects of the conflicts, and histories have focused on the roles of the king and high noblemen in the assassinations that sparked the massacres, rather than the mass violence. In this compelling and unique study, Diefendorf closely examines popular religious fanaticism and religious hatred. She focuses on the roots and escalation of the conflicts, the propaganda of Catholic and Protestant preachers, popular religious beliefs and rituals, the role of the militia, and the underground activities of the Protestant community after the massacres. Drawing on a wide array of published and unpublished sources, Beneath the Cross is the most comprehensive social history to date of these religious conflicts.
"[T]his work immediately takes its place as the richest, most detailed study of the course of events within a single city during the early phases of the Wars of Religion....Diefendorf has explored to a particularly good narrative effect the unusually rich store of memoirs, journals, and letters available about Paris....[This] is the first book to which students now ought to be referred if they want to understand the causes and nature of religious violence in the years leading up to those fateful days."--Archive for Reformation History "The wider importance of the study lies in the conclusion that had it not been for the fierce Catholicism of the people of Paris, the Wars of Religion--so-called--would have taken a different course....The book adds a new dimension without claiming to supersede others."--The English Historical Review "Diefendorf has taken a step both bold and necessary in conducting and publishing serious research into confessional hatred and violence...This sensitive book broadens our understanding of a troubling subject; but it raises a host of comparative questions which need to be equally sensitively addressed."--French History "Combines careful documentation and rigorous analysis with a style of presentation that marks its author as a master storyteller....Embodies a rare combination of exacting scholarship nand compelling narrative."--Religious Studies Review "A brilliant, original interpretation of the French Religious Wars that should be required reading for all historians of sixteenth-century France....Bound to provide fresh ideas and material for future debate."--Sixteenth Century Journal "Wonderful book--the clearest and most persuasive that has been written on the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Night in Paris and its prelude. Barbara Diefendorf's scholarship is impeccable. She takes proper account of popular religious passions, while placing them in their social and political context."--J.H.M. Salmon, Bryn Mawr College "Wonderful addition to the historiography on the French wars. It holds one's attention throughout."--Joan L. Coffey, Sam Houston State University "Very interesting book. I like her fresh approach to the religious and political crises of France from 1559 to 1572. Her understanding of religious feeling and emotion as causation factors in historical crisis and change is a good antidote to economic determinism."--Col. James S. Wheeler, United States Military Academy "Well-argued and engagingly written scholarly account of events that reached a crisis in the infamous massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. This is a valuable work in itself as well as a model of good historical thinking drawing on the best techniques of the profession."--John M. Hirschfeld, St. Mary's College of Maryland "An excellent, well-balanced approach. The narrative and analytical work well together."--Stephen Varvis, Fresno Pacific College "For some time I have been looking for a book to use in my Reformation Europe course that combines attention to Roman Catholics and second- or third-generation Protestantism with a full deployment of the 'new' social history. The deeply researched and plausibly argued book by Professor Diefendorf may just be that book....A very fine piece of historical writing."--Mark Noll, Wheaton College "The combination of powerful narratives and acute analysis makes Diefendorf's book a major contribution to the literature of religious conflict in early modern France."--Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania "This is one of the finest analyses of the clash between Protestant and Catholic culture in the Wars of Religion that I have ever seen. The author argues persuasively that religion was the essential cause of the conflict, and at the same time, she provides the most readable and up-to-date account of the St. Bartholomew's massacres in Paris. In short, this is a splendid book."--Mack P. Holt, George Mason University "Diefendorf succeeds in bridging the gap between the assorted worldly interpretations of the Wars of Religion and the religious interpretation of Crouzet, producing one of her own which is ultimatley more satisfying than any of the other approaches on its own."--The Catholic Historical Review "Diefendorf's scholarly and lively book is an important contribution which serves to correct the prejudiced accounts of contemporaries on both sides of the relgious divide. It is also a very readable book, full of vivid anecdotal detail."--Huguenot Society Proceedings "This highly readable volume rests upon a careful blend of published sources and archival documents, and imaginatively introduces heretofore little used material--the sermons of Simon Vigor and other popular preachers....Diefendorf's even and well-founded treatment of the subject make her book a model for the future studies of the Reformation controversy."--Sixteenthe Century Journal "Diefendorf asks the right questions and cautiously analyzes her data. She also evokes the sights, sounds, smells and the mentalite of sixteenth-century Paris, using vivid imagery, gripping narrative, and a sensitive portrayal of the feelings of both Catholics and Huguenots."--Brian E. Strayer, Andrews University "BRILLIANT BOOK!! Diefendorf has assimilated vast amounts of material and presents her arguments clearly. In our own age of renewed religious strife, this history is well worth reading."--Renaissance Quarterly "A valuable contribution to our knowledge of the French religious wars...effectively balancing narrative with analysis. An excellent work that fills an important void in our knowledge of Reformation France."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Diefendorf is at her BEST in probing the interaction between religious interests, civic identity and political strategy in shaping relations between Catholics and Hueguenots in the train of events culminating in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre."--John L. Farthing, Hendrix College "This book makes a substantial contribution to our knowledge of early modern France. It demonstrates the vitality of the growing field of the history of preaching."--Heythrop Journal "...Without a doubt one of the most significant monographs on early modern France to appear in the last ten years...Brilliantly combines a narrative of events with fresh analysis of well-known published sources as well as hitherto unknown archival materials...Diefendorf knows and understands Paris and its people in the sixteenth century. At last we have an analysis and interpretation that makes sense in view of what preceded and followed the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre."--Church History
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 31st October 1991
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.11 x 16.0 x 2.13
Weight (kg): 0.44