Heretics and Believers

A History of the English Reformation

Peter Marshall

View Inside Price: $40.00

June 27, 2017
672 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
32 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300170627

A sumptuously written people’s history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall’s sweeping new history—the first major overview for general readers in a generation—argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of “reform” in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora’s Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.
With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of “religion” itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.

Peter Marshall is professor of history at the University of Warwick, winner of the Harold J. Grimm Prize for Reformation History, and author of numerous books, including The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction. He lives in Leamington Spa, UK.

‘Peter Marshall's fresh history of the English Reformation excels with its strong narrative drive, savvy political assessments, and perceptive religious insights.  It is at once deeply researched and accessibly readable.  In a field crowded with exceptionally able histories, Heretics and Believers stands out as a treasure.’ - Mark Noll, author of Protestantism:  A Very Short Introduction

'A magisterial, panoramic and compelling new account of a phenomenon that was never just a top-down, institutionalised and ordered act of state. Peter Marshall reveals how the English Reformation was nurtured within the religious beliefs, culture and polity that it profoundly transformed, and thereby recovers its momentousness.'—Mark Greengrass, author of Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517–1648

'A commanding re-interpretation of a deeply significant process of change: analytically subtle, thematically all-encompassing, and full of real people.’-Steven Gunn, author of Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England

'A remarkable book that will, without doubt, become the definitive narrative of the English Reformation for years to come.  Marshall writes with deep understanding and great panache, moving us masterfully beyond tired debates about whether the Reformation was 'good' or 'bad' and bringing his subject vividly to life.'—Christopher Marsh, author of Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England

“Peter Marshall has written a fine history of a momentous time as seen from the bottom up, drawing on a wide range of primary sources and his evident scholarship . . . a riveting account of the losers as well, the English zealots and cynics who wanted a better world, or an unchanging one.”—The Economist

“An eminently readable narrative that avoids flattening out irregularities in the story… Marshall’s analysis, his control of documentary material and his imaginative manoeuvres between the corridors of power and the streets and alehouses is impressive.”—Malcolm Gaskill, Financial Times