Eamon Duffy

Eamon Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity at Cambridge.

The reputation of Eugenio Pacelli, who reigned as Pope Pius XII from March 1939 until his death in October 1958, is an object lesson in the fragility of popularity and public esteem. Pacelli was a favoured son of Rome’s ‘black nobility’, the cluster of families whose 19th-century fortunes were built on service to the papacy. In these circles, the Pacellis ranked very high,...

Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII’s first and longest-lasting queen, at the heart of his glittering court for almost two decades. In the early years of their marriage, the Spanish princess, daughter of the most glamorous monarchs in Europe, must have seemed every bit as regal as her husband. Yet in the historiography of Tudor England she has become a shadowy figure, a sad frump...

Keith Thomas prefaces this book with a quotation from the greatest of English medievalists, F.W. Maitland: ‘A century hence . . . by slow degrees the thoughts of our forefathers, their common thoughts about common things, will become thinkable once more.’ That aspiration, to recover ‘common thoughts about common things’, was a novelty in Victorian...

Aviad Kleinberg’s clever, wide-ranging and tendentious book begins by recounting an experience which he cannot quite decide whether to classify as a moment of blinding insight or one of personal weakness. He was watching a television interview with Mother Teresa, in which she told of her first encounter with a dying leper. The leper had asked her why she was caring for him, and she had...

The reign of Mary Tudor has had few friends among historians, and the regime’s religious dimension has provided most of the copy for the bad press. Until comparatively recently, almost everyone who wrote about what has been routinely described as the ‘Marian Reaction’ agreed that to a greater or lesser extent the Catholic Church during her reign was backward-looking,...

The Crowe is White: Bloody Mary

Hilary Mantel, 24 September 2009

Mary’s bishops wanted recantations more than they wanted executions. There was always the possibility of a last-minute change of heart; this would not free the condemned person from the stake, but it...

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Eamon Duffy’s celebrated The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c.1400-c.1580 (1992), which opened our eyes to the vitality of late medieval English Catholicism, was a...

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Homage to the Old Religion

Susan Brigden, 27 May 1993

At the Reformation a world was lost that could never be recovered. The images and altars, the dooms and roods of the parish churches, the towers and cloisters of the religions houses were...

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Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Henry VIII’s jurisidictional quarrel with the Papacy was not resolved, and its consequences are with us still. In Henry’s eyes the dispute was one of authority, not doctrine, but...

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