Reformation Europe Re-formed

Andrew Pettegree re-reads Geoffrey Elton’s classic text and considers how the subject has developed in nearly four decades since it was written.

No two generations write history in the same manner. As societv changes, so do the preoccupations of scholars, students and those engaged at the coal face of historical investigation. This is not merely a matter of fashion or taste. Different times also offer different opportunities. To compare history writing with only twenty years ago is to realise that we have lived through a time of very rapid change, both in terms of the technology of scholarship and the social and political circumstances that affect history writing more than we sometimes recognise.

In 1998 1 was approached by Blackwells to assist in the re-launch of the Fontana History of Europe. The Fontana history has been a staple of school and university courses for thirty years, and the volume covering the Reformation, by Geoffrey Elton, was one of its most successful parts. The plan was to bring the whole series back into print and where the author was deceased, as was the case with Elton, to accompany the original text with a brief afterword by a contemporary scholar.

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