In this important new study, Peter Marshall offers a fresh look at the impact of the English Reformation at parish level. The religious changes of Henry VIII and Edward VI had a profound effect upon the clergy of the English church, raising questions as to its status, jurisdiction, and proper place in the divine scheme of salvation.
This is the first full examination of the cumulative impact of these changes upon the relationship between priests in the parishes and the lay men and women who depended upon them for spiritual nourishment and religious instruction, and who not infrequently found them wanting in these and other respects. It provides a perceptive exploration of the role of the Catholic priesthood in the Church and in the life of the community.
Using a wide range of contemporary sources, Dr Marshall demonstrates how the practical consequences of the Reformation undermined the fragile modus vivendi that had sustained the late medieval system.
'important and scholarly
`carefully weighted monograph...this is...a judicious book. Marshall deftly steers the reader through a wide range of sources...We emerge... with an enlarged perception of prevailing platitudes as well as changing attitudes.'
The Times Literary Supplement
`a valuable account of what English laymen expected from their parish priests between the later years of Henry VII's reign and the accession of Mary I ... It is good to have his valuable collection of essays by the 'Master' of English Reformation Studies, written in an engaging and lucid literary style. To read them again is to breathe the refined air of mature scholarship.'
Robert Peters, History Today
`Marshall's interesting and well-documented study enhances our knowledge of lay attitudes'
`a readable, historically sound and well-balanced study which constitutes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the early English Reformation.'
Theological Book Review
`Peter Marhsall's detailed and finely balanced examination of the English priesthood in the age of Reformation is a superb example of the fresh insights still to be found in this enduringly contentious area ... The precision and poise of this study means that we are provided not only with an account of the priesthood but also with a fascinating and delicately-constructed picture of the wider English religious scene between c. 1500 and 1553 ... One of the
greatest strengths of this work is the way in which it manages to quell the more strident voices of polemicists both past and present and let us hear the faint, at times almost inaudible, voices of ordinary
people ... In both its wider perspective and its detailed perception, this work offers a rare level of insight. The disputatious world of Reformation history stands very much in need of this type of approach to balance the equally necessary, but more argumentative, works on this subject.'
`makes a scholarly and nuanced contribution to the debate... Dr Marshall has produces an impressive analysis of the attitudes of early Tudor parishioners to their priests which does indeed, as he intended, 'illuminate something of the nature of "popular religion" in the early sixteenth century, and the impact of reform on the interaction of the ordinary Christian and his pastor'.'
English Historical Review
`a major contribution to revisionist historical literature on the English Reformation ... Marshall works his way through wills, ecclesiastical court documents, churchwardens' accounts, and the results of episcopal visitations with great balance, skill, and sophistication. Another major contribution of Marshall's work is his analysis of anticlericalism.'
John J. LaRocca, S.J. Xavier University, Church History, Jun 1995
`An original and richly detailed study of the parochial priesthood in the English church from Henry VII to the Protestant Edward VI.'
Religious Studies Review