Counter Reformation, Catholic Reformation, the Baroque Age, the Tridentine Age, the Confessional Age: why does Catholicism in the early modern era go by so many names? And what political situations, what religious and cultural prejudices in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries gave rise to this confusion? Taking up these questions, John W. O’Malley works out a remarkable guide to the intellectual and historical developments behind the concepts of Catholic reform, the Counter Reformation, and, in his felicitous term, Early Modern Catholicism. The result is the single best overview of scholarship on Catholicism in early modern Europe, delivered in a pithy, lucid, and entertaining style. Although its subject is fundamental to virtually all other issues relating to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, there is no other book like this in any language.
More than a historiographical review, Trent and All That makes a compelling case for subsuming the present confusion of terminology under the concept of Early Modern Catholicism. The term indicates clearly what this book so eloquently demonstrates: that Early Modern Catholicism was an aspect of early modern history, which it strongly influenced and by which it was itself in large measure determined. As a reviewer commented, O’Malley’s discussion of terminology ‘opens up a different way of conceiving of the whole history of Catholicism between the Reformation and the French Revolution.”
There is no other comparable book or even article that deals with the same material in such a full and historically accurate way. O'Malley is the first to put a vast amount of scholarship together in a clear, cogent, and authoritative fashion. He has the kind of profound knowledge and understanding of historiography that comes only after years of study. Given the scope of the book, it should be most useful for courses not only on the Reformation, but on early modern Europe in general. His conclusion is a major contribution to the debate about terminology, and it opens a different way of conceiving of the whole history of Catholicism between the Reformation and the French Revolution.
In this important study, O'Malley does what his Jesuit forebears so often did--he engages in creative dialogue with approaches which, though imperfect, are likely to stay around.
[This book is] a remarkably thorough overview of how historians have sought to make sense of the way the Catholic Church responded to one of the most complex periods of her history...O'Malley brings together a vast amount of scholarship to show how the Church reacted not simply to the Protestant Reformation, but also to the other new challenges she faced in an age that witnessed both the rise of the nation state and the creation of vast imperial structures that by way of conquest carried the message of Christianity throughout the world.
Trent and All That is punchy, concise, entertaining, and lucid. In fact, these five short chapters constitute the single best overview of scholarship on Catholicism in early modern Europe during the past fifty years. There is frankly nothing of the kind in English. I imagine this will be a most welcome guide.
This is a unique book focusing on an interesting issue. Roman Catholicism in the early modern age has been designated by a variety of names: Counter-Reformation, Catholic Reformation, the Baroque Age, the Tridentine Age, and the Confessional Age. Why? What contexts and presuppositions in the last two centuries have led to this multiplicity? O'Malley is a leading authority and provides here the most significant and well-documented overview of this issue and its scholarship In the end, O'Malley proposes his own candidate for the best name for the period. Yet, this is not his primary goal alone. He wants to show 'the Catholic side' with new eyes so that the complexities of the period, frequently missed, will become apparent O'Malley's fine study opens new paradigms and persuasively promotes a fresh way of understanding this period of Roman Catholic history.
- 2001, Winner of the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize
- 240 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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