The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (Paperback)
  • The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (Paperback)

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (Paperback)

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Paperback 700 Pages
Published: 10/05/2005

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This prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people's experience of religion in fifteenth-century England. Eamon Duffy shows that late medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but was a strong and vigorous tradition, and that the Reformation represented a violent rupture from a popular and theologically respectable religious system. For this edition, Duffy has written a new Preface reflecting on recent developments in our understanding of the period.
From reviews of the first edition:
"A magnificent scholarly achievement [and] a compelling read."-Patricia Morrison, Financial Times
"Deeply imaginative, movingly written, and splendidly illustrated. . . . Duffy's analysis . . . carries conviction."-Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books
"This book will afford enjoyment and enlightenment to layman and specialist alike."-Peter Heath, Times Literary Supplement
"[An] astonishing and magnificent piece of work."-Edward T. Oakes, Commonweal

Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300108286
Number of pages: 700
Weight: 1202 g
Dimensions: 235 x 159 x 4 mm
Edition: 2nd Revised edition


"This book will afford enjoyment and enlightenment to layman and specialist alike. Duffy sweeps the reader along through its six hundred pages by a style which eschews both jargon and pedantry, by his lively and absorbing detail, his piercing insights, patient analysis, and his vigor in debate."-Peter Heath, Times Literary Supplement

"With the publication of this book, a kind of map or illustrated atlas of late medieval English Christianity, English Reformation studies will never be the same again."-Patrick Collinson, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A magnificent scholarly achievement, a compelling read, and not a page too long to defend a thesis which will provoke passionate debate."-Patricia Morison, Financial Times

"Sensitively written and beautifully produced, this book represents a major contribution to the Reformation debate."-Norman Tanner, Times

"Unfailingly temperate, judicious, and scholarly. . . . [The book] has a fascinating story to tell."-James Bowman, Sunday Telegraph

"The first serious attempt by a historian to restore Mary's reputation in more than four hundred years."-Simon Denison, Sunday Telegraph

"[This book] at last gives the culture of the late Middle Ages in England its due, and helps us to see the period as it was and not as Protestant reformers and their intellectual descendants imagined it to be. . . . A monumental and deeply felt work."-Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement

"This is a remarkable and significant work of historical 'revision,' which cannot be dismissed as a product of nostalgic longing for a Catholic past."-Anne Murphy SHCJ, John Pridmore, The Way

"A work of massive learning. . . . bound to provoke debate."-A.K. McHardy, History

"A mighty and momentous book: a book to be read and re-read, pondered and revered; a subtle, profound book written with passion and eloquence, and with masterly control."-J. J. Scarisbrick, The Tablet

"Duffy offers an unrivaled picture of late medieval parochial religion, with all its ritual symbolism and visual imagery."-Keith Thomas, The Observer

"Duffy's book is in every sense a substantial achievement. It is lengthy, carefully argued and researched, and illustrated with photographs of direct relevance to the argument. The tone is vigorous and alert, with occasional lyrical passages, and the author writes with clear sympathy and imaginative understanding about the disappearing world of medieval Catholicism. The book will mark a turning point in how several aspects of the English Reformation are considered by historians and the educated public. It will . . . contribute to an eventual shift in popular opinion and attitudes concerning the Reformation."-Robert Ombres, Moreana

"Duffy wants to show the vitality and appeal of late medieval Catholicism; and to prove that it exerted a diverse and vigorous hold over the imagination and loyalty of the people up to the very moment of Reformation. He succeeds triumphantly."-Susan Brigden, London Review of Books

"A provocative new account of traditional religion in England between 1400 and 1580."-East Anglican Daily Times

"Anyone who has an interest in the history of Catholicism in England in the 15th and 16th centuries will find this a rewarding and absorbing study. . . . The reader is treated to a detailed highly readable work which puts forward a thesis to challenge the often quoted view that the Catholic Church was in such a state of decay and unpopularity that the Reformation was almost inevitable. . . . The book is extremely well written and argued."-Bernard Bickers, The Universe

"This is a quite remarkable, indeed brilliant, study, which puts flesh on the bones of the so-called 'revisionist' interpretation of the English Reformation. . . . This is essential reading for all those who wish to understand late medieval religion and the means by which it was undermined against the wishes of the vast majority of its practitioners."-Christopher Harper-Bill, Theology

"This magnificently produced volume must rank as one of the most important landmarks in the study of late medieval English religion to have hitherto appeared, and it is unlikely to be superseded for quite some time. . . . The sheer scale of Duffy's achievement, the enormous value of the information he provides and the vigour and elegance with which he presents it, make his book, in every sense, a must."-Robert Peters, History Review

"This book is patently both a monument of scholarship and a labour of love. . . . A marvellously human book which has, in turn, the ability to restore life to the human beings whom it considers. One decisive historiographical shift of the past decade has been to take religion seriously again, in its own right, as a motivating force. Nobody has entered into that work with more empathy, and more affection, than Eamon Duffy."-Ronald Hutton, Journal of Theological Studies

"Anyone interested in the liturgy and buildings of the church, or in the vivid lay participation in religious life of the later middle ages, will find the book an inspiration, and should read it with the utmost care."-Dorothy M. Owen, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

"A godsend for teachers: a goldmine of examples and illumination."-Diarmaid MacCulloch, Teaching History

"A very illuminating and satisfying book, which takes a major step towards better understanding of the English reformation."-Margaret Aston, English Historical Review

"It has had huge influence in departments of literature and religious studies, as well as those of history. At the same time, it has reached a broad general public interested in the Roman Catholic inheritance in Britain. Its successes came not only from Duffy's scholarship and style, but also from Yale's nurturing, marketing and production values, and from the responses in such places as the TLS."-Jonathan Bate, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] masterpiece...Duffy wrote with elegiac elegance about the effects of the Reformation on parish religion, unafraid to show his passionate sympathy with the old world." -Diarmaid MacCulloch, London Review of Books

Winner of the Longman-History Today Bookof the Year Award

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“The Stripping of the Altars: a review”

It is a long time since the first publication of “The Stripping of the Altars” and in that time it has become a classic account of the spirituality and religious practices of 15th century England.
On re-reading it,... More

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