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Smelling the Gospel

Patrick Collinson, 7 March 1991

London and the Reformation 
by Susan Brigden.
Oxford, 676 pp., £55, December 1989, 0 19 822774 4
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... Since the Second World War, the cutting edge of English historical studies has been not ‘world history’ but English local history, a fact by no means adequately reflected in the Report of the National Curriculum History Working Group, nor even in the menus of courses currently on offer in university history departments. Local studies have been central to recent investigations of those complex processes conventionally described as the Protestant Reformation which, in the course of the 16th century and beyond, profoundly modified the civilisation of this country: but in spite of the national scope and aspirations of reforming legislation, not all at once or to the same extent in all regions and localities ...

Austere and Manly Attributes

Patrick Collinson, 3 April 1997

The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s ‘Arcadia’ and Elizabethan Politics 
by Blair Worden.
Yale, 406 pp., £40, October 1996, 0 300 06693 7
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... Unlike 1588, the Armada Year, 1578 has not endured in the national memory. But to those alive at the time, and especially those in charge of affairs – committed, ‘forward’ Protestants – it was a critical moment of making or marring. If 1588 was 1940, 1578 was 1938; the Netherlands, in revolt against its rulers, Czechoslovakia; the Spanish tyrant, Nazi Germany ...

Grisly Creed

Patrick Collinson: John Wyclif, 22 February 2007

John Wyclif: Myth and Reality 
by G.R. Evans.
Lion, 320 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7459 5154 6
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... In about 1950, A.L. Rowse persuaded K.B. McFarlane to contribute to his biographical series ‘Teach Yourself History’ a short book on John Wyclif, an Oxford intellectual dead for six hundred years and the only arch-heretic bred in Catholic England before the Tudors and the Reformation. In one way this wasn’t surprising, since Rowse and McFarlane were friends ...

Puritan Neuroses

Blair Worden, 19 April 1984

The Puritan Gentry: The Great Puritan Families of Early Stuart England 
by J.T. Cliffe.
Routledge, 313 pp., £18.95, March 1984, 0 7102 0007 2
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £30.60, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism 
by Patrick Collinson.
Hambledon, 604 pp., £24, July 1982, 9780907628156
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Laud’s Laboratory: The Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Early 17th Century 
by Margaret Steig.
Associated University Presses, 416 pp., £30, September 1983, 0 8387 5019 2
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The Puritan Conversion Narrative: The Beginnings of American Expression 
by Patricia Caldwell.
Cambridge, 210 pp., £17.50, December 1983, 0 521 25460 4
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Protestant Reformers in Elizabethan Oxford 
by C.M. Dent.
Oxford, 262 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 826723 1
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... shoulders. There are virtues in the anti-Laudian interpretation, too, for a historian like Patrick Collinson, who approaches the 1630s not backward from the Civil War but forward from the Elizabethan and Jacobean period. Collinson observes the success of pre-Laudian Puritanism in working within the Church, sees ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... into anthropological jargon, and the broader significance of bonfires and bells remains imprecise. Patrick Collinson is also concerned with the impact of Protestantism. Not long ago, the dominant view was that in the later 16th century England became a Protestant country, but in recent years this has been vigorously challenged. ...

Elton at seventy

Patrick Collinson, 11 June 1992

Return to Essentials: Some Reflections on the Present State of Historical Study 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £16.95, October 1991, 0 521 41098 3
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... Sir Geoffrey Elton’s latest reflections on the state and status of his subject illustrate the Coleridgean maxim that a man is more likely to be right in what he affirms than in what he denies. Arising from lectures delivered, one imagines, off the cuff to an audience at the University of Michigan, they consist for the most part of soundings-off against a rogues’ gallery of ideological and academical types and tendencies which he believes constitute a threat to the proper study and use of the past ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson, 30 March 2000

Philip Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... See another country, learn another language: advice as old as the Greeks. In May 1572, a very young man left England, in the words of his passport, ‘for his attaining to the knowledge of foreign languages’, but attached to a diplomatic mission, something more serious than a mere Grand Tour. He was a participant in the often menacing jollifications which accompanied the finalisation of an Anglo-French treaty and a marriage alliance with the house of Navarre ...

Playboy’s Paperwork

Patrick Collinson: Historiography and Elizabethan politics, 11 November 1999

The World of the Favourite 
edited by J.H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss.
Yale, 320 pp., £35, June 1999, 0 300 07644 4
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The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-97 
by Paul Hammer.
Cambridge, 468 pp., £45, June 1999, 0 521 43485 8
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... From the Fifties to the Seventies, historians of early modern Europe were tempted to search for general regularities with which to order the past, if not quite to explain it. Examples are the notion of a ‘general crisis’ in the 17th century, and the ‘rise’ of the gentry and an alleged ‘crisis’ of the nobility, especially in England. Seismic shirts in European civilisation, functional and dysfunctional, part of the breakdown of the medieval world and the coming of modernity, were discussed in reductionist terms as the consequence of the so-called ‘military revolution’, or of the fiscal burden of parasitical royal courts, or as incidental to the phenomenon of the multiple kingdoms which were another feature of the age ...

Holy-Rowly-Powliness

Patrick Collinson: The Prayer Book, 4 January 2001

Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England 
Churchhouse, 864 pp., £15, December 2000, 9780715120002Show More
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... Someone once said that if he looked at his watch at eight minutes past 11 on any Sunday morning, he could be certain that in ten thousand parish churches throughout the length and breadth of England untold thousands would be intoning the eighth verse of the Venite: ‘Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ We are not told why this perhaps fictitious person was not in church himself ...

Walsingham’s Plumber

Patrick Collinson: John Bossy, 5 July 2001

Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story 
by John Bossy.
Yale, 189 pp., £18.95, May 2001, 0 300 08400 5
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... Incidentally, they know you know they know you know the code.’ Peter Ustinov’s Cold War satire Romanoff and Juliet (1956) could have been about Salisbury Court, the London home in the early 1580s of the French Ambassador to the Court of Elizabeth I, Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, an establishment described by John Bossy as ‘zany, convivial and leak-ridden ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen, 6 July 2000

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... In a recent TV programme about King George VI, Peregrine Worsthorne commended his late sovereign for being a dull man, brains being the last thing the British constitution requires of a monarch. It was not always so. Whatever else has been said about the first Elizabeth (one recalls Sheridan’s ‘no scandal about Queen Elizabeth I hope?’) no one has ever complimented her on being dull ...

A Calamitous Man

Patrick Collinson: Incombustible Luther, 29 July 1999

Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death 
by Richard Marius.
Harvard, 542 pp., £19.95, March 1999, 0 674 55090 0
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... Imagine a dream in which you are climbing a church tower in the dark. Stumbling, you reach out for something to hang on to and find that you are pulling at a bell rope, that the bell is waking up the entire town, and soon other towns far beyond. Within weeks you, the inadvertent bell-ringer, are both famous and infamous, and famous not for a few minutes but for ever ...

And Cabbages Too

Patrick Collinson: The Tudors, 22 March 2001

New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 
by Susan Brigden.
Allen Lane, 434 pp., £20, September 2000, 0 7139 9067 8
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... What, for the British Isles, is the shape, scope and character of that rich slice of history which was the 16th century? The titles of the textbooks which have defined the period for the late 20th-century successors of Macaulay’s ‘every schoolboy’ tell their own story: Tudor England (S.T. Bindoff, 1950), England Under the Tudors (G.R. Elton, 1955), Tudor England again (John Guy, 1988), branding the age – see J ...

Through Trychay’s Eyes

Patrick Collinson: Reformation and rebellion, 25 April 2002

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 232 pp., £16.95, August 2001, 0 300 09185 0
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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 book born when its author learned to drive. The motor car diverted him from other historical pursuits and took him to those East Anglian churches which, after a century of drastic iconoclasm, and a later century of Victorian ‘restoration’, still conserve so many precious vestiges of that old religion ...

What news?

Patrick Collinson: The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1 November 2001

The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s 
by R.W. Hoyle.
Oxford, 487 pp., £30, May 2001, 9780198208747
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... The crisis, the most severe to hit the regime since it had come into office, began in Lincolnshire. Columns of smoke rose above the English countryside. At one point the nation’s leader was tempted to take personal charge of the management of the crisis. But when the Lincolnshire problem proved to be shortlived, he unwisely wound the preventative operation down, persuading himself that the crisis was under control, even over ...

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