Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Reformations and Religious Change

This session will look at some of the momentous changes experienced in the period as a result of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. It will focus on both the national and international dimensions of religious change as well as its political, social and cultural impact. In particular, we will discuss the 'confessionalization' debate and how this has shaped the historiography of the Reformation. The position of minorities and the extent to which they were tolerated, as well as the relationship between religious belief and the Enlightenment, will also be considered.

Seminar Questions:

Should we properly speak of the Reformation or of Reformations?

To what extent did regional, national and global contexts shape the course of the Reformation(s)?

How useful is the confessionalization thesis?


Core Reading:

Ute Lotz Heumann, ‘Confessionalization’, in David M. Whitford (ed.), Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research (2008)

Peter Marshall, The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction(2009)

Peter Marshall (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation (2015), esp. chapters by Eire, Gregory, Ditchfield


Further Reading

Robert Bireley, The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700(1999)

John Bossy, Christianity in the West(1985)

Euan Cameron, The European Reformation(1991)

Patrick Collinson, The Reformation(2003)

Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580(1992)

Carlos Eire, Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 (2016)

H-J. Goertz, The Anabaptists(1996)

Mark Greengrass, Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648 (2014)

Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe(1999)

Caspar von Greyerz, Religion and Culture in Early Modern Europe(2008)

Ronald Hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal (2nd ed, 2005)

Ronald Hsia (ed), Cambridge History of Christianity Volume 6: Reform and Expansion 1500-1660 (2007)

Ben Kaplan, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (2007)

Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World (2009 or later edns), part 3: ‘Religion’

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 (2003)

Peter Matheson (ed), Reformation Christianity (2007)

J.W. O’Malley, Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (2000)

Lee Palmer Wandel, The Eucharist in the Reformation: Incarnation and Liturgy (2006)

Andrew Pettegree (ed.), The Reformation World (2000)

Andrew Pettegree, Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion (2005)

Ulinka Rublack, Reformation Europe (2005)

Ulinka Rublack, The Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations (Oxford, 2017)

Ulinka Rublack (ed.), Protestant Empires: Globalizing the Reformations (Cambridge, 2020)

Alec Ryrie (ed), Palgrave Advances in the European Reformations (2006)

Bob Scribner et al. (eds), The Reformation in National Context (1994)

James D. Tracy, Europe’s Reformations 1450-1650 (1999)

Peter G. Wallace, The Long European Reformation (2004)


More on the ‘Confessionalization’ debate:

Philip Benedict, ‘Confessionalization in France? Critical reflections and new evidence’, in R.A. Mentzer and A. Spicer (eds), Society and Culture in the Huguenot World (1559-1685) (2002), pp. 44-61, and also in P. Benedict, The Faith and Fortunes of France’s Huguenots, 1600-85 (2001), pp. 309-25

John M. Headley, Hans J. Hillerbrand, and Anthony J. Paplas (eds), Confessionalization in Europe, 1555-1700: Essays in Honor and Memory of Bodo Nischan (Aldershot, 2004)

Walter Reinhard, ‘Pressures towards Confessionalization? Prolegomena to a Theory of the Confessional Age’, in C. S. Dixon (ed.), The German Reformation: The Essential Readings (1999)

Heinz Schilling, Religion, Political Culture and the Emergence of Early Modern Society (Leiden, 1992), esp. pp.205-45 (‘Confessionalization in the Empire’)

'Fishing for Souls' (1614) by Adriaen Van de Venne, in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.