Diarmaid MacCulloch

Diarmaid MacCulloch is emeritus professor of the history of the church at Oxford. His books include Thomas Cromwell: A Life and Reformation.

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...

Nobody’s perfect: ‘The Holy Land’

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 27 September 2018

The Middle East​ isn’t short of ruins (there are many more now than there were a few years ago), and until the turn of the millennium archaeologists believed that those at Khirbet Qeiyafa, twenty miles south-west of Jerusalem, belonged to a large farm of the fourth to third centuries bce. It was an interesting, ancient but hardly unusual site. But then excavations beginning in 2007...

A Bonanza for Lawyers: The Huguenot Dispersal

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 21 September 2017

I must​ make a declaration of interest in reviewing this book: the author’s surname suggests that we are distant relatives. My mother’s family name was also Chappell: they dropped the ‘e’ from the end as they faded into the general population of this country, after arriving from France to settle in Staffordshire, the heartland of England’s nascent...

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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