There’s a new one out from Eamon Duffy: Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (Yale, 2009). This be ye blurbe:
The reign of Mary Tudor has been remembered as an era of sterile repression, when a reactionary monarch launched a doomed attempt to reimpose Catholicism on an unwilling nation. Above all, the burning alive of more than 280 men and women for their religious beliefs seared the rule of “Bloody Mary” into the protestant imagination as an alien aberration in the onward and upward march of the English-speaking peoples.
In this controversial reassessment, the renowned reformation historian Eamon Duffy argues that Mary’s regime was neither inept nor backward looking. Led by the queen’s cousin, Cardinal Reginald Pole, Mary’s church dramatically reversed the religious revolution imposed under the child king Edward VI. Inspired by the values of the European Counter-Reformation, the cardinal and the queen reinstated the papacy and launched an effective propaganda campaign through pulpit and press.
Even the most notorious aspect of the regime, the burnings, proved devastatingly effective. Only the death of the childless queen and her cardinal on the same day in November 1558 brought the protestant Elizabeth to the throne, thereby changing the course of English history.
I also noticed that Eamon Duffy contributed to the catalogue of the ongoing British Library exhibition Henry VIII: Man and Monster. Oops. That should read “Man and Monarch.” Silly me. The exhibition catalogue is avaialble from the British Library Store.
I shall now exhibit (I hope) some self-control and prevent myself from purchasing those two delectable items until I have finished reading the three Eamon Duffy books that I already have: The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village (Yale, 2003), The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580 (Yale, Second Edition 2005), and Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570 (Yale, 2006). The latter is profusely illustrated with beautiful images of pre-Protestant English prayer books. Duffy’s work is a corrective to that triumphalistic Protestant propaganda which, ever since the Deformation reared its misbegotten head, has depicted every populace as eager to get out from under the heel of Papistry and the rule of the Whore of Babylon, yadda, yadda, yadda. In truth, it was a step further away from truth, and has made an irremedial mess of things—extremely well-played by the father of lies. In any case, Duffy does well to show up the truth of the situation.