- Collaboration, Conflict, and Continuity in the Reformation: Essays in Honour of James M. Estes on His Eightieth Birthday ed. by Konrad Eisenbichler
When asked once “what made him tick, as a historian,” James M. Estes, quondam director of the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies at Victoria College, University of Toronto (1979–85), responded by observing that “history is, of course, a house with many rooms” and added that “history is a communal enterprise.” This substantial Festschrift assembled in his honour by a number of his exceptionally distinguished colleagues and friends is a volume of many rooms as well, all of which, in one fashion or another, reflect some aspect or another of Estes’s various scholarly interests and pursuits. When I was engaged in my own doctoral research on the political theology of Richard Hooker, at a time when the social historians were riding high, the publication of Estes’s first monograph, Christian Magistrate and State Church: The Reforming Career of Johannes Brenz (Toronto, 1982), provided welcome, and indeed much longed-for, encouragement that Kirchenpolitik remained a worthwhile, respectable investment of scholarly energy. The volume opens with reminiscences of the honouree’s distinguished career written by Konrad Eisenbichler (his successor as the director of the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies and the editor of this collection), Andrew Gow (a former student of Estes’s, now a professor at the University of Alberta), and James McConica (a senior colleague at Toronto, who is the general editor of the Collected Works of Erasmus, to which Estes contributed so much over the years). This collection includes essays that reconsider Brenz’s career, notably those by Heinz Scheible, Timothy Wengert, and Hermann Ehmer. In acknowledgement of Estes’s significant contribution to the study of Erasmus there are essays by Amy Nelson Burnett, Charles Fantazzi, Valentina Sebastiani, Susan Karant-Nunn, Erika Rummel, Nicole Kuropka, and Paul Grendler. Estes, we are informed, regards his essay “Officium principis christiani: Erasmus at the Origins of the Protestant State Church” as “the best and most original” of his scholarly undertakings. Also prominently represented are studies of Luther and Melanchthon, both of whom figure significantly in the Estes oeuvre, here represented by Silvana Seidel Menchi, Robert Kolb, and Mark Crane. There are pieces on the French Reformed churches (Raymond Mentzer) and the influence of Johann Herolt and Thomas Stapleton—“northern influences”—on preaching in the Diocese of Novara in Piedmont (Thomas Deutscher).
The quality of these studies is consistently and impeccably high throughout—and it would difficult to imagine what could possibly do more honour to Estes, the recipient of their tribute. Perhaps somewhat unusually for a Festschrift, this collection achieves a remarkable focus on a single unifying theme of intellectual and political history, the traditional [End Page 322] fields in which Estes has laboured so assiduously over the course of his scholarly career. One rejoices to see such a distinguished constellation of scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, all contributing from their several angles and through their various interests to the decoration of their respective chambers on every floor of this gracious mansion of scholarship. Karant-Nunn’s essay, “For What Has Erasmus to Do with Money,” is amusing and informative. Menchi’s study of the circulation of Luther’s ideas in Italy under the label of Erasmus also has an element of humorous fascination. The threads of religion and politics are neatly drawn together by Irene Dingel in the final essay of this volume, on the quest for peace agreements in the early modern period. This provides a soothing coda to the rumbustious polemical exchanges of the principal protagonists represented here. This volume will most definitely be required reading for all serious scholars of Renaissance and Reformation studies.