Whatever Happened to the English Reformation?

'Revisionism' has now become a historian's catch-phrase. Long-cherished interpretations of upheavals in British and European history have been re-examined. In this light, Glyn Redworth examines revisionist interpretations of the English Reformation.

The story goes that a revisionist historian was once asked, 'What's new about the English Reformation?' 'There wasn't one,' came the reply. Of course, we should not take this sort of anecdote too literally, but it does introduce us to an important theme in the study of English religious history in the early modern period. So far, revisionist scholarship has always stressed that the State's attempts to alter the people's religion were slow to take effect and did little to eliminate popery as the greatest threat to the stability of the realm. Never was this more so than during Henry VIII's 'Reformation'.

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