The degree to which the English Protestant Reformation was a reflection of genuine popular piety as opposed to a political necessity imposed by the country's rulers has been a source of lively historical debate in recent years. Whilst numerous arguments and documentary sources have been marshalled to explain how this most fundamental restructuring of English society came about, most historians have tended to divide the sixteenth century into pre and post-Reformation halves, reinforcing the inclination to view the Reformation as a watershed between two intellectually and culturally opposed periods. In contrast, this study takes a longer and more integrated approach. Through the prism of charity and lay piety, as expressed in the wills and testaments taken from selected London parishes, it charts the shifting religious ideas about salvation and the nature and causes of poverty in early modern London and England across a hundred and twenty year period. Studying the evolution of lay piety through the long stretch of the period 1500 to 1620, Claire Schen unites pre-Reformation England with that which followed, helping us understand how 'Reformations' or a 'Long Reformation' happened in London. Through the close study of wills and testaments she offers a convincing cultural and social history of sixteenth century Londoners and their responses to religious innovations and changing community policy.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Prayers and purgatory: wills on the eve of Reformation, 1500-1538: Wills and the church fabric; Prayers and services; Poverty and piety; The old and the new ways: wills and charity, 1539-1580: Reform, restoration, and survivals; Foundations old and new; Death, burial, and commemoration; Poverty and charity; Piety and the Reformation parish, 1580-1620: Reworking the fabric; Reformed piety; Charity and social control, 1580-1620: Centralising relief; Schemes and work; Social control; For the most need: comparative views of reform: The parish and its sources; Peculiarities of London?; Protestant and Catholic charity?; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
'... adds considerable texture to our understanding of cultural change in early modern London.' History '... a study which adds greatly to our detailed knowledge of the charitable needs and instincts of Londoners, and modifies received perceptions in small but significant ways. The research is thorough and careful...' Archiv fÃ¼r Reformationsgeschichte '... articulate... compelling and important...' Albion