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In the Know

Simon Schaffer, 10 November 1994

Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture 
by William Eamon.
Princeton, 490 pp., £38.50, July 1994, 0 691 03402 8
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The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire 
by Pamela Smith.
Princeton, 308 pp., £30, July 1994, 0 691 05691 9
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... it’, as well they might. Such stories might seem far away from modern science, but according to William Eamon they hold vital clues to the course and meaning of the Scientific Revolution. The quick-witted medical improviser was Leonardo Fioravanti, an eminent ‘professor of secrets’, one of a number of Renaissance writers who traded on their ...

All Curls and Pearls

Lorraine Daston: Why are we so curious?, 23 June 2005

The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany 
by Neil Kenny.
Oxford, 484 pp., £68, July 2004, 0 19 927136 4
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... Historians, most notably Hans Blumenberg, Carlo Ginzburg, Jean Céard, Krzysztof Pomian and William Eamon, have noted the remarkable rise of curiosity and its transvaluation from vice to virtue. They have argued, with varying emphases, that this episode is key to understanding the modernisation of European culture, a momentous transformation linked ...

The Crowe is White

Hilary Mantel: Bloody Mary, 24 September 2009

Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 249 pp., £19.99, June 2009, 978 0 300 15216 6
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... In the reign of Edward VI, an Exeter clergyman named William Herne, an enthusiast for the gospel, told one of the city’s aldermen that he would rather be torn apart by wild horses than ever again say the Catholic Mass. In December 1553, Queen Mary newly enthroned, the alderman entered his parish church to find Herne at the altar, in his old vestments and all ready to go ...

In Good Estate

Eamon Duffy, 2 January 1997

Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets: Kingship and the Representation of Power 1200-1400 
by Paul Binski.
Yale, 241 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 300 05980 9
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... a focus of pilgrimage. Anglo-Saxons venerated their last Saxon king, while the successors of William the Conqueror saw in the promotion of Edward’s cult within the coronation church a valuable mark of Norman legitimacy. On the Bayeux Tapestry the funeral procession of the holy king from the palace of Westminster to his resting-place in the Abbey ...

Hew their bones in sunder

Eamon Duffy: Lancelot Andrewes, 3 August 2006

Lancelot Andrewes: Selected Sermons and Lectures 
edited by Peter McCullough.
Oxford, 491 pp., £90, November 2005, 0 19 818774 2
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... Andrewes was an iconic ancestor figure. Along with Richard Hooker, George Herbert and William Laud, this ‘right reverend Father in God’ seemed to embody Catholic continuity and spiritual moderation. The English Church, these men believed, had maintained amid all the upheavals of the Protestant reformation a via media between the various ...

Homage to the Old Religion

Susan Brigden, 27 May 1993

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 704 pp., £29.95, November 1992, 0 300 05342 8
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... dead and the living. It is this lost physical and mental world, as well as this desolation, which Eamon Duffy discovers and, wishing it had been otherwise, movingly describes. In the first part of the book, Duffy wants to show the vitality and appeal of late medieval Catholicism; and to prove that it exerted a diverse and vigorous hold over the imagination ...

Tush Ye Shall Not Die

John Bossy, 23 February 1995

William Tyndale: A Biography 
by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £19.95, September 1994, 0 300 06132 3
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The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship, Sacrifice and Subjectivity 
by Debora Kuller Shuger.
California, 297 pp., £32, December 1994, 0 520 08480 2
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... There must be an ecumenical spirit at work at Yale University Press for, having just given us Eamon Duffy’s masterly and devoted evocation of English Christianity before the Reformation, The Stripping of the Altars, they have now made things even with David Daniell’s William Tyndale ...

Rolling Back the Reformation

Eamon Duffy: Bloody Mary’s Church, 7 February 2008

... refute Protestant error. In London, star preachers like John Feckenham, Richard Smith, Henry Cole, William Peryn, Thomas Watson and William Chedsey defended Catholic doctrine from many pulpits, but the focus of this campaign was London’s major preaching venue, Paul’s Cross. As Pole told Bartolome Caranza in June 1558, a ...


Terry Eagleton, 6 January 1994

Safe in the Kitchen 
by Aisling Foster.
Hamish Hamilton, 347 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 241 13426 9
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... Catholic Dublin family in the years of the Irish war of independence, marries Frank O’Fiaich, Eamon de Valera’s right-hand man, and becomes embroiled in a plot to finance the Irish revolution with the Romanov crown jewels. (Like many a fabular event in Irish history, this one is conceivably true.) The Bolsheviks entrust the jewels to the Irish as ...

How did we decide what Christ looked like?

Frank Kermode: How Jesus Got His Face, 27 April 2000

The Image of Christ 
edited by Gabriele Finaldi.
National Gallery, 224 pp., £14.95, February 2000, 1 85709 292 9
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... Hunt. Roman coins are placed in the same tradition, the same gallery, as Philip Webb’s beautiful William Morris-inspired Cross of 1897. Other sections on ‘The Dual Nature’ and ‘The True Likeness’ offer similar comparisons between works far apart in time. Yet one cannot help seeing the show chronologically. For example, there is a clear temporal ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... and Civil Wars in England in the 1640s; the more general ‘philosophic’ histories of Hume, William Robertson and Gibbon, each wary of ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘superstition’; Macaulay on the ‘glorious revolution’ in Britain in 1688; and, in vastly different idioms, Carlyle, Michelet and Taine on what they variously regarded as the glorious or ...

Something about Mary

Diarmaid MacCulloch: The First Queen of England, 18 October 2007

Mary Tudor: The Tragical History of the First Queen of England 
by David Loades.
National Archives, 240 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 1 903365 98 8
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... is right, it cannot disguise real problems in Mary’s government. Bishop Stephen Gardiner and William Lord Paget hated each other, all the more because Paget had been Gardiner’s favourite student at Cambridge, and then for years on end during Henry’s reign Gardiner had not noticed that Paget had been working against him. Even though Paget was on the ...

Back to the Border

Niamh Gallagher: Ulsterism, 17 June 2021

The Partition: Ireland Divided, 1885-1925 
by Charles Townshend.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £20, April, 978 0 241 30086 2
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... construction. We are told that the Union failed to work because the then prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, did not create a ‘United Kingdom identity’ following the 1801 Act, and a policy of ‘inertia’ towards Ireland soon prevailed. The best attempts at incorporative policies, according to Townshend, were Catholic Emancipation in ...

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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... historical entity: only a name and a geographical notion. Towards the end of the 16th century, William Camden published his Britannia, the intention of which was to inform learned Continental readers that the modern English nation state, which was increasingly dominant in the British Isles, was the proud and legitimate successor of a famous Roman ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude, 23 May 2013

James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... an eight-volume History of England from the First Invasion by the Romans to the Accession of William and Mary, using sources inaccessible to Protestants. The four volumes on the 16th century were contrived, as Lingard admitted, to ‘make the Catholic cause appear respectable in the eyes of a British public’. Newman, Anglicanism’s arch-traitor, was ...

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