Diarmaid MacCulloch

Diarmaid MacCulloch is an emeritus professor of the history of the Church at Oxford and a fellow of St Cross College. His books include A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, Silence: A Christian History and a Life of Thomas Cromwell.

Our Way of Proceeding: Jesuit Methods

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 22 February 2024

In the mid-18th century​ an exceptionally adventurous European traveller might have got as far as a desert region in what is now Arizona, to be rewarded with hospitality from the presiding priest in the stately local mission church. There was likely to have been chocolate to drink, transported from Yucatán some two thousand miles to the south, served in Fr Philipp Segesser von...


No Marriage

9 June 2022

Lawrence Duggan misses the point in his critique of my remarks on clerical celibacy in the medieval Western Church (Letters, 21 July). He objects to the phrase ‘the 450-year-old prohibition on clergy getting married, unique to the Western Latin Church’. I now see that this particular wording is an editorial intervention that I overlooked: I had written more precisely about ‘the 450-year-old prohibition...

Silly Little War: Zwingli

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 9 June 2022

The talents​ of historians rarely extend to poetry. I remember reading the TLS of 4 March 1977 and cringing at the discovery that my doctoral supervisor, Geoffrey Elton, had indulged in a penchant for verse, prefacing his review of G.R. Potter’s Life of Huldrych Zwingli with a couplet: ‘Some talk of Martin Luther and some of Calvin (John)/But Zwingli’s hardly mentioned...

A Monk’s-Eye View

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 10 March 2022

Evesham​ in Worcestershire is one of those agreeable English provincial towns whose modest size preserves its medieval layout. It’s not hard to notice the absence at the heart of the town, a great green open space once occupied by a massive Benedictine abbey. Little of it is left: the remains of two monumental entrance gates plus a lofty detached bell tower, the latter dwarfing the...

Who kicked them out? St Patrick’s Purgatory

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1 August 2019

What​ do we know about St Patrick? Most people could probably place him in Ireland, amid every short cut to Irishness – shamrocks, Guinness, lots of green things – while a little more knowledge may attach to him the legend that he is responsible for Ireland’s lack of snakes, having ordered them all to leave. The picture becomes more complicated for those who have...

In​ 1517 a fierce commercial struggle broke out in England between two enterprising competitors in the busy trade of saving souls. The English Province of Austin Friars and Our Lady’s...

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Wrong Kind of Noise: Silence is Best

Marina Warner, 19 December 2013

By a bizarre twist, G.K. Chesterton may be en route to sanctity: it was reported in August that the Bishop of Northampton has begun a suit for his canonisation. Diarmaid MacCulloch doesn’t...

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Our Supersubstantial Bread: God’s Plot

Frank Kermode, 25 March 2010

Eamon Duffy, whose opinion of this book will not be lightly disputed, remarks on its jacket that ‘everyone who reads it will learn things they didn’t know.’ Most lay reviewers...

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What should we mean by ‘Reformation’? Was it a ‘paradigm shift’ of the kind proposed by Thomas Kuhn, a new set of answers to old questions, a Darwinian moment? Perhaps....

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Close Shaves

Gerald Hammond, 31 October 1996

The last few years have seen a remarkable surge in studies of the Reformation period and this book by Diarmaid MacCulloch is the piece which completes the jigsaw, putting at the centre of the...

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