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The 'Long Reformation': Protestantism and the People

For discussion:

In what sense can the mass of the English people be described as ‘Protestant’ by the early seventeenth century?

What elements of continuity, change and ‘hybridisation’ can be detected in popular religious mentalities in the period 1558-1640?

Which is the better label: ‘Protestant’ or ‘Post-Reformation’ England?


D MacCulloch, The Later Reformation in England (1990), ch. 10.

C Marsh, Popular Religion in Sixteenth Century England (1998), esp. ch.4-5

P Marshall, Reformation England (2003), ch. 6

B Reay, Popular Cultures in England 1550-1750 (1998), ch. 3

K Wrightson, English Society 1580-1680 (1982), ch. 7

K Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), esp. ch. 6 on popular ‘superstitions’

C Haigh, ‘The Church of England, the Catholics, and the People’ in Haigh, ed., The Reign of Elizabeth I (1984), and in P. Marshall, ed., The Impact of the English Reformation (1997)- on ‘parish Anglicans’, and the failure of the English to absorb The Protestant message. See Collinson, in Haigh, Reign of Elizabeth, for a different view.

C Haigh, ‘The Taming of Reformation: Preachers, Pastors and Parishioners in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England’, History, 85 (2000)

C Haigh, ‘Success and Failure in the English Reformation, Past and Present, 173 (2001)

C Haigh, The Plain Man’s Pathways to Heaven. Kinds of Christianity in Post-Reformation England, 1570-1640 (2007)

P Collinson, The Religion of Protestants (1982)- ch. 5 on ‘Popular and unpopular religion’.

J Maltby, ‘Parishioners, the Prayer Book and the Established Church’, in K Fincham, ed., The Early Stuart Church (1993) and in Marshall, Impact of the English Reformation. A different view of ‘prayer book Protestants’, elaborated in her Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (1998)

D Cressy, Bonfires and Bells (1998)- development of a Protestant festival calendar

R Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (1993), esp. chaps. 3-5: on related themes. See also his ‘The English Reformation and the Evidence of Folklore’, Past and Present, 148 (1995), on long-term religio-cultural change.

M Ingram, ‘From reformation to toleration: popular religious cultures in England, 1540-1690’, in T. Harris, ed., Popular Culture in England, c1500-1850 (1995)

P Collinson, ‘William Shakespeare’s Religious Inheritance and Environment’ in idem, Elizabethan Essays (broader than the title suggests)

A Fox, Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500-1700 ((2000)

P Lake, ‘Deeds against Nature: Cheap Print, Protestantism and Murder in Early 17th century England’, in K. Sharpe and P. Lake, eds. Culture and Politics in Early Modern England (1994); cf his ‘Popular Form, Puritan Content?...’ in A. Fletcher and P.Roberts, eds., Religion, Culture and Society (1994); both reprinted in Lake, The Antichrist’s Lewd Hat (2002)

I Green, ‘The emergence of the English catechism under Elizabeth and the early Stuarts’, in Journ. of Ecclesiastical History (1986)- on the volume of Protestant catechising. See also his monograph, The Christian’s ABC (1996)

T Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety: 1550-1640 (1991)- on cheap literature & the formation of post-reformation religious culture. A shorter version in M Spufford, ed., The World of Rural Dissenters (1995) and in Marshall, Impact of the English Reformation

A Walsham, Providence in Early Modern England (1999)- a key aspect of popular religion; see also Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, ch. 4.

N Tyacke, ed., England’s Long Reformation 1500-1800 (1988)- esp. essays by Duffy, Collinson, Hickman, Gregory

M Spufford, ‘Can we count the ‘godly’ and the ‘conformable’ in the seventeenth century?’, Journ. of Ecclesiastical History (1985)- on the problems in quantifying religious commitment

J Boulton, ‘The Limits of formal religion: the administration of holy communion in late Elizabethan and early Stuart London’, London Journal (1984)

B Capp, The World of John Taylor the Water-Poet (2004), ch.6 (the religious mindset of a self-taught uneducated writer).