- English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors by Christopher Haigh, and: Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England by Alexandra Walsham (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 59, Number 3, July 1995
- pp. 512-515
- View Citation
- Additional Information
512 BOOK REVIEWS knowing God, particularly in eternal blessedness, explains that and why he is so much to he loved. Thomas's intellectualism has a greater role in his moral theology. But Wadell's point is still well-taken. The love of God is operative throughout Thomas's moral instruction in the Summa theologiae, and treatments of his teaching on the passions and the virtues that do not see them as linked in some real way to charity are doomed to incompleteness. Both The Primary of Love and Friends of God are genuine contributions in this regard. I am not sure whether they achieve the golden mean of presenting Thomas's moral teaching "dot-on," hut I am sure that embracing the tenor of these hooks will help us to achieve that mean in due time. Saint Joseph's College Rensselaer, Indiana MARK JOHNSON English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors. By CHRISTOPHER HAIGH. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Pp. 300. $19.95 (paper). Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modem England. By ALEXANDRA WALSHAM. The Royal Historical Society Studies in History, vol. 68. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1993. Pp. xiii + 142. $53.00 (cloth). The revision of the history of the English Reformation continues at great pace in these two recent hooks. The first, by Christopher Haigh, is one-volume account of the English Reformation that clearly attempts to replace A. G. Dickens's masterful The English Reformation. which has held the field since 1964. Haigh admirably succeeds in this attempt. His style is very readable , forceful, and compelling-reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc's headlong historical narrative, hut without Belloc's confessional loyalties (Haigh is not a Catholic) or oversimplification. This is not a facile account of a complicated Reformation. Haigh knows what the complications are and does not hesitate to discuss them. The hook gets its name from the author's thesis that the English Reformation was the result of political accidents and coincidences, lurching along to an Elizabethan "Settlement," which succeeded only because Henry VIII died eight months too late, because Mary Tudor died too soon, or because Elizabeth lived too long. In other words, the English Reformation did not have to happen; it was not inevitable; it could have been (and was) BOOK REVIEWS 513 reversed any number of times. Grand, long-term causes and patterns (e.g. the popularity of Lollardy, the corruption of the Church) are dismissed as the hindsight of propagandists. In fact, the Reformation happened largely because the people involved did not know that it was happening; they had not read A. G. Dickens on the subject. There are excellent critiques of church warden accounts and will preambles , similar to the critiques offered by Duffy in his recent Stripping of the Altars (Yale, 1992), and caution is urged in seeing in this evidence too much enthusiastic Protestantism. People may have stopped mentioning the saints and the Virgin in their wills, not necessarily because they were convinced Protestants, but more probably because it had become illegal to mention such things. Characters such as Colet, who have long been viewed as being incipient Protestants, are given a more convincing reading by Haigh: "Colet was not a proto-Protestant, disgusted with the ecclesiastical structure and the sacramental system; he was a high clericalist, anxious to maintain the privileges of priests by raising their prestige." Chesterton said this years ago, of course, in his comment that Chaucer (who was resurrected as a hero by the Reformers) did not criticize monks because he wanted to destroy monasticism ; he only wanted to improve the monks. The book is not without its shortcomings. Haigh overstates the de-construction of the Reformation. While it is true that there were lurches and reactions and reversals, there was also a continuum which appeared with each separate Reformation, which can be traced to a previous one, be it Henrician or Edwardian. When Edward came to power, the monasteries, convents , friaries, religious orders, shrines, and chantries were gone. When Mary came to power, much of the artwork was gone and people had become wary of giving money towards prayers for the dead-not because they stopped believing in prayers for...