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  • Volume 2: The Reformation, 1520–1559, 2nd edition
  • Edited by G. R. Elton

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    The New Cambridge Modern History
    • Volume 2: The Reformation, 1520–1559, 2nd edition
    • Edited by G. R. Elton
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055772
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361
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Book description

This is the second, amended and enlarged edition of a familiar standard work, first published in 1958. Like its predecessor, it describes the open conflicts of the Reformation from Luther's first challenge to the uneasy peace of the 1560's. Reforming movements in all the principal countries are discussed, against the background of constitutional development and the political struggles of the ruling dynasties. Europe's relations with the outside world are given due prominence. The second edition incorporates the results of some thirty years of further research and fills some of the gaps, especially in the history of central Europe, which beset the first edition. All chapters which remain from 1958 have been revised, some very substantially.

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  • Chapter I - The age of the Reformation
    pp 1-22
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Some historians, so ready as a rule to revise the periods into which for convenience sake they divide the subject matter of their study, have on the whole allowed the 'age of the Reformation' to survive. This chapter discovers how far this acquiescence in an established convention is justified. What is it that gives coherence and meaning to those forty years. The age of the Reformation' should be defined as that period during which the new churches were on the offensive. It therefore begins properly with the date of Luther's ninety-five theses (1517) and extends in general to the later 1550s. In short, the Reformation maintained itself wherever the lay power favoured it; it could not survive where the authorities decided to suppress it. Scandinavia, the German principalities, Geneva, in its own peculiar way also England, demonstrate the first; Spain, Italy, the Habsburg lands in the east, and also France, the second.
  • Chapter II - Economic change
    pp 23-68
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Looked at from either West or East, the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries form an important stage in the transformation of the European societies. As against this, economic change in the era of the Reformation has now ceased to be regarded as in any way linked to the ecclesiastical diversification. The understanding of the economic transformation of the agrarian societies of feudal Europe places the centre of the argument within the internal dynamics of the system. The economy of town and countryside described in addition took account of the unpredictability of operating in an agrarian society. The secular transformation of European agriculture is most readily discerned in the novel dimension of the intra-European long-distance trade in grain, cattle, wine and wool which is well documented in customs accounts and urban registers. The 'golden age' of Antwerp is by common consent one of the most notable chapters in the history of Renaissance Europe.
  • Chapter III - The reformation movements in Germany
    pp 69-93
    • By R. W. Scribner, Fellow of Clare College and University Lecturer in History in the University of Cambridge
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Reformation was essentially a movement for reform of the church led from within by its own clergy. The way in which the German church was socially stratified was to determine many of its institutional reactions to reform. At its highest levels, it was undeniably a 'nobles' church', its most eminent offices the preserve of princely and aristocratic families. The success of the reform movements owed a great deal to currents in the very ecclesiastical structures they criticised and ultimately did much to undermine. There were also other religious impulses which fed into the movement that grew up around 'martin Luther's cause' and which influenced the nature of its early development. The defeat of the peasants put an end to the evangelical social movements of the early 1520s. The evangelical movements were to be replaced after 1525 by a different kind of reform, which was to lead to what has traditionally been called the 'Lutheran Reformation'.
  • Chapter IV - The Reformation in Zurich, Strassburg and Geneva
    pp 94-117
    • By E. G. Rupp, formerly Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Cambridge
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In the first years of the Reformation, when all the older ecclesiastical machinery was hindered, blocked and in the hands of vested interest, the evangelical pastors, themselves with no power of jurisdiction, found the godly magistrate to be literally a godsend, an effective, competent instrument for getting things done. By this time the magistrates themselves were reluctant to yield anything of their authority, the more so as they were sensitive and suspicious of a new clericalism. But impersonal considerations alone do not explain the Reformation. They were men who made it, and when we think of it, surprisingly few in relation to the creative work which they achieved. These groups of scholars, preachers and pastors are of surprisingly impressive calibre. Most of them were good men, many of them great men. The cities of Zurich, Strassburg and Geneva stand out in the story because Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin were giants.
  • Chapter V - The Anabaptists and the sects
    pp 118-143
    • By James Stayer, Professor of History at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The defeat of the Peasants' War led the Anabaptists to retreat from communalism into a separatism more like Ernst Troeltsch's 'sect type' than the form in which they had first emerged in 1525. The earliest form of Anabaptism arose in close connection with the Zwinglian Reformation and rural resistance movements in north-eastern Switzerland - that is, in Zurich and its dependencies and the lands of Schaffhausen and St Gallen. The Swiss had, since their military victories of the fourteenth century, expelled feudal overlords, but Swiss cities, particularly Zurich and Bern, continued to hold restless peasant populations in uneasy subjection. The Reformation and Anabaptism provided yet another setting for these recurring urban-rural conflicts. The Zurich baptisms are viewed in hindsight as the founding of the Baptist-Mennonite confessions, but the participants were no more consciously founding a church than Martin Luther, when he did whatever he did do on 31 October 1517.
  • Chapter VI - The Reformation in Scandinavia and the Baltic
    pp 144-171
    • By N.K. Andersen, formerly Professor of Theology in the University of Copenhagen
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter deals with the Reformation in the Scandinavian countries, namely, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland, and in the Baltic states. After Christian Ill's victory in Denmark, the Reformation and the Church Ordinance were also introduced into Norway. In Sweden the Reformation, introduced under Gustavus Vasa, took a course very different from that in Denmark. Iceland was completely unprepared for the Reformation; its last two Catholic bishops ruled their sees with a firm hand. At the time of the Reformation, Finland was under Swedish rule, so that it largely followed Swedish developments in church affairs. The Finnish Reformation has its own special character. The evangelical movement reached the Baltic states round about 1520; its progress was speedy, especially among the German population in the towns. At the beginning of the Reformation the church's position in the other Baltic cities was roughly like that in Riga.
  • Chapter VII - Politics and the institutionalisation of reform in Germany
    pp 172-197
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The long-term success of demands for religious reform, even in the limited form it was to take in Germany, depended in the last resort on politics, which in turn crucially influenced the institutional shape it was to take. One can find, quite independently of evangelical theology, a justification of many of the social policies usually associated exclusively with Reformation thought. The institutionalisation of reform in the sixteenth century, with state control of the church as part of a wider regulation of social and economic life, was 'Marsilian' as much as it was Lutheran. The enacting of ecclesiastical statutes constituted only the most formal means of instituting religious reform. The dualism of church government implicit in the notion of the 'two kingdoms' was reflected in the dual control of superintendent and district governor. The consequences of the doctrine of the 'two kingdoms' were rather different from Luther's intentions, and we are justified in speaking of a 'bureaucratisation of religious life'.
  • Chapter VIII - Poland, Bohemia and Hungary
    pp 198-222
    • By R. R. Betts, formerly Masaryk Professor of Central European History in the University of London
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The church in Poland was at the beginning of the sixteenth century as ripe for reformation as any in Europe. The state of religion and the church in Hungary at the beginning of the sixteenth century was similar to that in Poland, though the greater feebleness of the Jagiellon kings of Hungary, Vladislav (Ulaszlo) and his successor Lewis (Lajos) II, and the consequent greater power of the Hungarian magnates and prelates made the Hungarian church more worldly and political even than the Polish church. Though there was little room for Calvinism in Bohemia, in Poland and Hungary there was a large and powerful class for which it had a strong attraction, the native middle and lower nobility. The Reformation in Transylvania from 1551 to 1571 was in no way hindered by the rulers of that country. The half-century which followed the appearance of Luther's Reformation treatises saw an almost continual growth of Protestantism in central Europe.
  • Chapter IX - The Reformation in France, 1515–1559
    pp 223-261
    • By F.C. Spooner, formerly Professor of Economic History in the University of Durham
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Reformation in France shared a common purpose with other religious movements. It is all too easy to explain them by their conflicts, but their similarities were often striking. The emergence of the rigorous doctrines and missionary zeal of Calvinism accompanied the founding and rapid expansion of the Society of Jesus. The chronicle of reform takes shape as a triptych of three main panels: first, the developing relationship between church and State in France at a time when, as elsewhere in Europe, the monarchy was purposefully set on enlarging central authority and dominating the resources of the realm; second, the early influence of the Reformation from the revolt of Luther which merged into an entente between humanists and reformers sharing liberal attitudes and enquiry; third, the aggravation of disputes between radicals and reactionaries both on the left and on the right, when the monarchy found itself confronting now one, now the other, a double menace of heresy and civil insurrection.
  • Chapter X - The Reformation in England
    pp 262-287
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    England wore her Reformation with a difference. About one-third of England's lands was in ecclesiastical hands: great lords like the abbot of St Albans or the bishop of Winchester controlled larger revenues than any temporal nobleman. England had heard of the 'new learning', of the humanist revolution in the schools, as much as any country; had she not harboured Erasmus, and had not Erasmus and his friends looked to the young Henry VIII as to their great patron. The real mainspring of the Reformation was political. All the anticlericalism of the people, supported by such nationalist objections to a foreign pope's interference in England as might be found, would not have led to a break with Rome if the Crown had not thought it necessary to deal with the papal control of the church. The English Reformation had never been the exclusive preserve of religion and theologians; politics and the lay power had always mattered more.
  • Chapter XI - Italy and the papacy
    pp 288-312
    • By Delio Cantimori, formerly Professor of History in the University of Florence
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    After Charles V had permitted the sack of Rome, the forces of the Italian states ceased to offer firm support to the papacy; Florence rebelled against Medici rule, Venice attempted to seize papal territories, and the French ally showed himself incapable, blind and unfaithful. Since Charles V's ascendancy in Italy was henceforth uncontested, it was also in the interests of the papacy as an Italian power that the Holy See as an international power should remain neutral. It must be noted that, generally speaking, historical research into the whole Italian religious movement for the period 1519-63 has confined itself to studying the diffusion of Protestantism in Italy. The first to distribute the works of Luther and Melanchthon in Italy was a bookseller of Pavia, Francesco Calvi. Luther was the man most talked about, and heretics in Italy were known for a long time generically as Lutherans.
  • Chapter XII - The new orders
    pp 313-338
    • By H. O. Evennett, formerly Fellow of Trinity College and University Lecturer in History in the University of Cambridge
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Throughout the period covered by this chapter the early apostolic successes of the Capuchins, Theatines, Jesuits and other new communities, the fruits of a degree of selfdenying zeal that seemed incredible to contemporaries stood out against a background certainly of expanding general effort but also of underlying uncertainty in regard to the reformability and even the continued future existence of some of the older bodies. The various bodies of clerks regular were the outstanding creation of sixteenth-century Catholicism in the sphere of the religious orders. The chapter first deals with the more important monastic revivals along traditional lines that occurred in the period. The new foundations of Camaldolese monks in Italy, though appearing merely to continue the type of the localised monastic reforms of the fifteenth century, have a wider significance by virtue of the personalities of the founders and their close connection with the leaders of other important contemporary devout groups in Italy, well-springs of the Counter-Reformation.
  • Chapter XIII - The empire of Charles V in Europe
    pp 339-376
    • By H. G. Koenigsberger, formerly Professor of History at King’s College, University of London
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    At one time or another during his reign, Charles himself or a member of his family sat as ruler or consort on nearly every royal throne of Europe. Charles V's conception of his role, a providential opportunity to be realised through systematic marriage alliances and directed towards the unification of the world in a Christian empire, was not new. Charles's very insistence on his religious aims and their fusion with his political ends helped to make insoluble two problems which were difficult enough in any case: his relations with the German princes and his relations with the pope. The history of Spain in the empire of Charles V stands in sharp contrast to that of the Netherlands; at the same time, it was equally dominated by imperial finance. Earlier than any other dominion, Castile was faced with the financial demands of imperial policy, and her immediate reaction could scarcely have been more hostile.
  • Chapter XIV - The Habsburg–Valois wars
    pp 377-400
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Crusading enthusiasm was certainly much in evidence during the Imperial election of 1519. The two main contenders for the highest secular honour in Christendom, Francis I and Charles of Habsburg, took their stand on the issue. Henry, only the second Tudor on the English throne, was acutely conscious that participating in continental war would establish the dynasty firmly at home and abroad, apart from bringing him renown. Francis I had brought the Valois dynasty to power by inheritance rather than war. Henry and Philip were fighting for recognition of their position as major powers, and Henry for a time made a serious bid to establish himself as the greatest power in Christendom. Honour and prestige, the keywords of that age, were their reward. And as the monarch's status was reflected on his subjects, the monarchs considered that their lands were similarly beneficiaries of the wars. For the states of Habsburg and Valois, however, the losses heavily outweighed the gains.
  • Chapter XV - Intellectual tendencies
    pp 401-451
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the sixteenth century a great deal of writing in genres previously monopolised by vernacular was undertaken under the stimulus of the example of the literature of antiquity. In the field of satirical writing and popular morality the greatest figure is Erasmus. The strength and variety of imaginative prose writing in Italy is striking testimony of the wide diffusion of bourgeois values in the Peninsula. In the history of science the sixteenth century is a period of changes in ideas and methods slowly coming into being, not until the following century accomplished and accepted. The science of this time is far richer in medieval elements than in modern ones. Despite Renaissance and Reformation, despite the wonders reported from the two Indies, despite indeed the technical innovations of Copernicus and Vesalius, learned and unlearned alike had a picture of the natural environment in which they lived little modified from that of the fourteenth century.
  • Chapter XVI - Schools and universities
    pp 452-477
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    As with elementary schools, so with Latin or grammar schools, the evidence suggests a steady multiplication in the century prior to the Reformation, and there is no doubt that many boy attended school who had no intention of proceeding later to a university. The most impressive evidence of expanding facilities for education is provided by the universities. As for universities, many changes were in progress. For Erasmus education on the humanist plan justified itself by providing a direct approach to the Scriptures and the roots of living Christianity, by its civilising powers and because it made available the sound scholarship of antiquity. All the educational changes noted were carried out in a period when doctrinal disputes were growing harsher. Three Protestant universities were created by princely action: Marburg, Königsberg and Jena. A further commentary on the school and university of the Renaissance is provided by the emergence of learned academies of various kinds.
  • Chapter XVII - Constitutional development and political thought in western Europe
    pp 478-504
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Any discussion of constitutional problems must start with the monarchy. This chapter discusses the details of royal government and looks at the machinery through which the rulers of the western kingdoms expanded their power, consolidated their territories and their hold on them, and to all appearances developed absolutist tendencies always inherent in monarchy. From the thirteenth century onwards all Latin Christendom had seen a rapid spreading of the representative assemblies; they were as typical of Germany, Scandinavia, Hungary and the rest of western Europe, and they were as typical of late-medieval politics as was monarchy itself. In the Spanish kingdoms, too, the Cortes had received early encouragement as royal weapons against local or noble independence, and they were still playing this part under the renovated monarchy. But because of the very different levels of constitutional development reached in Castile and Aragon, and the ancient separation of the two kingdoms, no meeting for all Spain was called until 1709.
  • Chapter XVIII - Constitutional development and political thought in the Holy Roman Empire
    pp 505-525
    • By Volker Press, Professor of Early Modern History in the University of Tübingen
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Charles V was primarily interested in legitimising his dreams of a universal monarchy by means of the Imperial Crown which in practice had its roots in German soil. The system set up by the Peace of Augsburg left no room for Charles V. In 1554 he yielded to Ferdinand full power to negotiate and made every effort to transfer all responsibility to him. It soon became apparent that no alternative existed to the creation of a religious peace which was totally opposed to Charles's ideas touching both the Imperial dignity and the truth of religion, but which helped to confirm Ferdinand's position. Not until 1558 was Ferdinand able formally to take on the succession by dint of issuing a new 'electoral capitulation'. Though it retained the Burgundian possessions and the Italian claims, the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg had departed from the Holy Roman Empire. The emperor's restored presence in the empire soon yielded political profit.
  • Chapter XIX - Constitutional development and political thought in eastern Europe
    pp 526-539
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The three kingdoms of Poland, Bohemia and Hungary were among the largest in sixteenth-century Eastern Europe. Ferdinand's Hungarian realm was the least unitary of the three, for 'the Lands of the Crown of St Stephen' comprised two kingdoms: the kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia. Within Hungary was the inassimilable principality of Transylvania, itself compounded of the three partly autonomous Magyar, German and Szekler 'nations'. The composition of the Parliaments of central Europe in the sixteenth century illustrates the landlords' dominance. Though the estates of the Poland, Bohemia and Hungary kingdoms were the organs of the landowning nobility, there was in many respects a coincidence of interest between king and Parliament. Constitutional development in Poland in the sixteenth century did not result in any strengthening of monarchical power such as the Habsburg rulers achieved in Bohemia and, to a lesser degree, in Hungary. Of the three nations, it was only the Poles who made any attempt to rationalise the aristocracy practice.
  • Chapter XX - Armies, navies and the art of war
    pp 540-569
    • By J. R. Hale, formerly Professor of History at University College, University of London
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.022
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The spread of new military ideas and their consolidation was helped by the fact that there were hostilities somewhere in Europe throughout most of the period. Lessons were quickly learnt, conclusions could speedily be put to the test. Progress was aided, too, by the cosmopolitan nature of armies; generals learnt not only from the enemy but from their own mercenaries. If the ancients had anticipated much of the strategic and some of the tactical and technical needs of the sixteenth century, there was one new element which they had not foreseen: gunpowder. Sixteenth-century wars were not to be won by clapping civilians into uniform and giving them a Roman name. The character of these wars was largely determined by technical developments. New weapons demanded new tactics, new tactics dictated changes in the composition of an army. After the middle of the century the arts of war by land and sea began to diverge in manner as well as in matter.
  • Chapter XXI - The Ottoman empire 1520–1566
    pp 570-594
    • By V. J. Parry, formerly Reader in the History of the Near and Middle East, School of Oriental and African History, University of London
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.023
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In 1536, soon after his return from the Persian war, the sultan bestowed on France commercial privileges similar to those which Venice had long held in the Ottoman empire. This agreement was the visible symbol of the growing friendship that united the king of France and the sultan. As the campaigns of Vienna and Guns had shown, the war on the Danube ensured to Francis I no decisive gain and even worked to his disadvantage, in so far as it rendered the German Protestants less willing to join him in overt resistance to the emperor and forced them to make common cause with Austria against the sultan. A final verdict on true role of the Sulaimān in the triumphs and achievements of his reign must rest with future research, but there is little reason to think that he will not continue to be for us, as he was for the Christian world of his time, the Magnificent Sultan.
  • Chapter XXII - Russia, 1462–1584
    pp 595-623
    • By J. L. I. Fennell, formerly Professor of Russian in the University of Oxford
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.024
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the end of the 1470s the process of 'gathering together' the grand prince's patrimonies was more or less complete; in an emergency Ivan could rely on military support from all the Great Russian territories. Before applying himself to his major task, the wresting of the Ukraine from Lithuania, Ivan had still to reckon with Casimir's ally in the south, the Tatars of the Golden Horde. By the end of the century the time was even more favourable for Ivan to launch his major campaign against Lithuania. His scrupulously tactful relations with the Porte throughout the eighties and the nineties assured him of the continued support of the sultan's vassal, Mengli-Girey. It is true that after the fall of Novgorod Ivan had expropriated considerable property belonging to the archbishop and the monasteries of Novgorod and in 1500 had converted an unspecified amount of Novgorod church property into pomest'ya.
  • Chapter XXIII - The New World, 1521–1580
    pp 624-655
    • By J. H. Parry, formerly Gardner Professor at Harvard University, G. V. Scammell, Fellow of Pembroke College and University Lecturer in History in the University of Cambridge
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.025
  • View abstract
    Summary
    For forty years Spaniards in the New World concentrated their attention on the Americas and left the East alone. In 1539 Cortés wearied of the New World and returned to Spain, where he lived in comfort but also in boredom, supported by the revenues of the marquesado. In the Indies, as in Spain, the professional lawyer was the natural and chosen agent of a centralising policy. The Indies trade was a standing temptation to slavers, smugglers and illicit traders, mostly Portuguese in the first half of the century, but later from northern Europe By 1580, then, Philip II was ruler of all the European settlements so far established in the New World. The achievement of Iberian conquest and government was an impressive one. It was clear by the end of Philip's reign that the material benefits of empire were going to others, for whose enrichment the Spaniards were, 'like Indians', carrying the treasure of the New World to Europe.
  • Chapter XXIV - Europe and the East
    pp 656-682
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521345361.026
  • View abstract
    Summary
    First among Europeans to reach the East by sea were the Portuguese. The initial Portuguese ventures in Asia were directed by the Crown. The law always forbade departures for Asia without royal licence, and few Portuguese of the sixteenth century began life in the East as private adventurers. The nature of eastern commerce helped the Portuguese. In 1500 much overseas commerce with the countries of Asia lay in the hands of communities of foreign merchants. Arabs predominated in trade to places on the shores of the Arabian Sea. In East Africa they ruled independent cities; on the west coast of India they had strong settlements and influence from Malabar to Gujarat. Foreign traders were powerful at Malacca, where Javanese, Tamils and Gujaratis all had important colonies. Afonso de Albuquerque impressed his ideas on many aspects of Portuguese activities in the East. Albuquerque was one of that handful of men of outstanding ability who ensured the establishment of a Portuguese empire.

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