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REVIEWS 188 they are, as Doubleday argues, really vehicles for royal propaganda against the magnates (among others). But the author’s decision to focus his study too narrowly , on the heads of the Lara family and their relationship with successive rulers rather than on the family as a whole and its relationship with other magnates , has resulted in an incomplete analysis, which perhaps raises more questions than it answers. Likewise, his frequent omissions of contextual information , much of which actually would have supported the very arguments he seeks to make, leaves the reader at the end with only a slightly better understanding of the period or the topic than when he or she opened the book. CYNTHIA L. CHAMBERLIN, Latino Health and Culture, UCLA Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath (New Haven and London: Yale University Press 2001) 208 pp., 26 b/w + 16 color ill. How did the Protestant Reformation impact the lives of people in rural England ’s small towns and villages? Eamon Duffy helps answer that slippery question by meticulously following the fate of one small Devonshire village in the years 1520–1574. Sixteenth-century Morebath, a sheep-farming community of just thirty-three households, had the lucky distinction of having a vicar, Sir Christopher Trychay, who not only kept some of the most colorful, opinionated , and thorough church records in early modern England, but who did so for over fifty years. He was already vicar in Morebath fourteen years before Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy and was still serving there fifteen years after the Elizabethan Settlement. Duffy combs Trychay’s rich accounts, providing insights into pre-Reformation piety in Morebath and the ways that “reform” overturned not only vital modes of devotion but essential village social structures as well. Before the waves of religious change hit Morebath, the church’s economic and communal life centered around seven or eight organizations called “stores,” which funded devotion to specific saints within the parish church. The stores used funds from the sale of wool and church ales to keep candles burning in front of statues of their patron saints, donating the surplus to the high wardens of the church for liturgical expenses. The wool that funded the stores required , in turn, that parishioners maintain one or two of the store’s sheep in their own flocks, and at their own expense. In such a small community, these modes of devotion required total cooperation and, presumably, a high degree of religious commitment from the parishioners. Duffy records some of the social upheavals (such as the awkward disputes at the 1537 betrothal party of two locals) that took place when only one or two people refused to carry their weight: “Non-cooperation of a handful of poor men could paralyse the parish’s decision-making and smooth working, ... in which consensus, however achieved, rather than majority rule, was felt to be the essential basis for collective action” (63). The stores—and, Duffy contends, the sense of communal devotion that accompanied them—were disbanded in successive stages in the years following the split with Rome. When devotion to the saints was outlawed, the need for stores first became superfluous, and then illegal. In 1538, “Our Lady’s sheep,” “St. Sidwell’s sheep,” etc., become simply “the church’s sheep” in Trychay’s records, officially separating them from their association with their patron REVIEWS 189 saints, even as parishioners continued to pay for repairs to the saints’ statues. The church’s sheep were eventually sold to a single parishioner in 1547 so that the crown could not confiscate them due to their past association with the cult of the saints. Duffy profiles the economic devastation that plagued the town in the midst of, and as a result of, such social and religious reforms. The church’s income was drastically depleted in 1547 by the loss of its two major sources of income —the wool from the church sheep and proceeds from parish “ales,” which were outlawed in the same year. While the church’s income was diminishing, however, its expenses were skyrocketing. Part of the problem was that, as head of the church and commonwealth, Henry VIII and his successors began heavily...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-0290
Print ISSN
0069-6412
Pages
pp. 188-191
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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