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A lively, expansive history of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations and the momentous changes they set in motion This fast-paced survey of Western civilization’s transition from the Middle Ages to modernity brings that tumultuous period vividly to life. Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the two-hundred-year era of the Renaissance and Reformation with particular attention to issues that persist as concerns in the present day. Eire connects the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in new and profound ways, and he demonstrates convincingly that this crucial turning point in history not only affected people long gone, but continues to shape our world and define who we are today. The book focuses on the vast changes that took place in Western civilization between 1450 and 1650, from Gutenberg’s printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years’ War. Eire devotes equal attention to the various Protestant traditions and churches as well as to Catholicism, skepticism, and secularism, and he takes into account the expansion of European culture and religion into other lands, particularly the Americas and Asia. He also underscores how changes in religion transformed the Western secular world. A book created with students and nonspecialists in mind, Reformations is an inspiring, provocative volume for any reader who is curious about the role of ideas and beliefs in history.
Carlos M. N. Eire is the T. L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University. He is the author of several scholarly books and two memoirs, including Waiting for Snow in Havana, for which he received the National Book Award.
Table of Contents
Part 1 On the Edge 1
Prelude: Rome, 1450 1
1 An Age of Breakthroughs 3
2 Religion in Late Medieval Christendom 19
3 Reform and Dissent in the Late Middle Ages 43
4 Italian Humanism 64
5 Humanism Beyond Italy 86
6 Forerunners of the Catholic Reformation 114
Part 2 Protestants 131
Prelude: Rome, 1510 131
7 Luther: From Student to Monk 133
8 Luther: From Rebel to Heretic 158
9 Luther: The Reactionary 185
10 The Swiss Reformation 218
11 The Radical Reformation 248
12 Calvin and Calvinism 286
13 England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, 1521-1603 318
Part 3 Catholics 367
Prelude: Rome, 1564 367
14 Catholic Reform: Facing the Challenge 369
15 Catholic Reform: Healing the Body of Christ 389
What prompted you to write this book? At the very beginning, I had two goals in mind. One was to produce a more wide-ranging survey for my own students, the other was to gather all the advances being made in research on this pivotal era. By the time the book neared completion—ten years after I began working on it—it had become obvious that the boundaries of the project had to expand due to new understandings of the early modern period. Also, I realized that I could, and should, reach a broader audience, including readers beyond the classroom.
How is your book unique? Unlike other surveys of this time period, Reformations encompasses each of the various competing branches of the Protestant Reformation and the totality of the Catholic Reformation. Also, I cover over two centuries so as to integrate the long-term outcomes of the Reformations with their beginnings. And, this book expands the horizons of traditional narratives by encompassing the Americas and Asia while also integrating religious, intellectual, social, cultural, political, and economic history.
What can you tell us about the interesting art in the book? Due to the invention of the printing press, the era of the Reformations was the first in which mass-produced images could be distributed and consumed. A history of this period would be incomplete without images. The illustrations include a vast array of media, from paintings and statues to engravings and book pages. The phrase “one picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies to this period of history and to this book in particular.
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