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Trent and All That

Trent and All That

Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era

John W. O'Malley

ISBN 9780674008137

Publication date: 04/30/2002

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.

    —Elisabeth G. Gleason, Professor of History Emerita, University of San Francisco


  • 2001, Winner of the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize


  • John W. O’Malley was University Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University and the author of many books, including Four Cultures of the West, Trent, Vatican I, What Happened at Vatican II, and The First Jesuits (all from Harvard); The First Jesuits has been translated into twelve languages. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a recipient of the Harvard Centennial Medal as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Society for Italian Historical Studies, the Renaissance Society of America, and the American Catholic Historical Association. O’Malley was a member of the Society of Jesus and a Roman Catholic priest.

Book Details

  • 240 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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