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320BOOK REVIEWS HundredYears'War, and periodic crop faUures—as well as other, less notorious misfortunes—visited upon Christendom death and starvation, and also contributed to vUlage breakdown and troubled famiUes. Crime proUferated because of the confusion. Faith in the courts' impartiaUty broke down. In the midst of suffering, the saints protected their cUents from bands of mercenary soldiers, sickness, raging spouses, the hangman's noose, or the accidental death of chUdren . In return for such protection, suppliants commonly promised a pUgrimage to a reUc or an offering of candles.Through the intercessions of the saints, God consoled believers for whom peace, health, famUy, vUlage, and government had aU but vanished. He barred the way for marauding warriors, removed the scourge of disease, withered the arms of abusive husbands, and broke the chains of the jaUer and the rope of the executioner.What lords, courts, and law provided Ui earlier, more tranquU times, divine intervention provided in a more tumultuous era, hence the fourteenth-century proUferation of rescue stories. Students of late medieval reUgious history wUl find the sources presented here useful and thought-provoking. Questions of interpretation and conceptuaUzation , however, remain. Recent works such as Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars revise Huizinga's interpretation of late medieval religion more than Goodich aUows.In summarizing the demographic contractions ofthe fourteenth century, Goodich relies on the Malthusian dilemma (p. 105), although the researches of David Herlihy question its usefulness in the study of medieval populations. Goodich attributes Catherine of Siena's mastery over nature (p. 106) to fears of storms and floods; yet such mastery had been believed about saints since Francis ofAssisi.At one point, Goodich seems to accept a divide between clerical and lay reUgious cultures, arguing that the learned sought to minimize divine intervention in daUy Ufe,but ordinary beUevers"remained attached to a more fluid view of the universe, in which God's merciful grace would respond to the vow and suppUcations of the faithful" (p. 55). In other comments, however, clergy and laity share a religious culture, since famUy happiness depends on God's blessing (p. 83), and aU estates within Christendom beg the intercessions of the saints (p. 146). FinaUy, Goodich says that penitential floggings were accepted in forms ofreUgious expression (p. 48), despite episcopal efforts against the Flagellants. In sum, this book's interpretation faUs to persuade. Robert W. Shaffern University ofScranton The Shaping of a Community: The Rise and Reformation of the English Parish, c. 1400-1560. By Beat A. Kiimin. [St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Brookfield.Vermont: Scolar Press. 1996. Pp. xiii, 362. $74.95.) There has been a remarkable resurgence in recent years among EngUsh historians of studies ofreUgion at the parochial level just before and during the Reformation . Seeking to escape the earUer concentration upon issues raised by BOOK REVIEWS321 the hindsight of the Henrician and Elizabethan settlements and the rather partisan tone of those debates, and seeking also to avoid the fascination with LoIlardy or proto-Protestantism, more recent writers have concentrated upon the vitaUty and continuity of popular reUgious practice during the period. Beat A. Kümin's study ofthe parish as a community seeks to add a further dimension to the new historiography by focusing attention upon the institution of the parish from a social and financial rather than a doctrinal perspective. This richly detaUed and exhaustively documented study rests most importantly upon close analysis of churchwardens' accounts. To date 234 surviving sets of EngUsh accounts have been discovered (a helpful list is provided), most beginning in the mid- to later fifteenth or early sixteenth century, and whUe Kiimin draws upon them extensively, a set often parishes' records form the running analysis of trends throughout the book; these are from parishes ranging widely in location and type, from vUlages and market towns to wealthy urban places.The author's discussion of the nature and pitfaUs of this source may be the single most useful treatment avaUable, and the basic quantitative analysis provided is cautious. Although the central Middle Ages had ¦witnessed the soUdification of parochial structure in England, the office ofchurchwarden developed only during the thirteenth century.The importance and range of churchwardens' duties...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 320-322
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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