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1517 : Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation

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Description

Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517 is one of the most famous events of Western history. It inaugurated the Protestant Reformation, and has for centuries been a powerful and enduring symbol of religious freedom of conscience, and of righteous protest against the abuse of power. But did it actually really happen? In this engagingly-written, wide-ranging and insightful work of cultural history, leading Reformation historian Peter Marshall reviews the available evidence, and concludes that, very probably, it did not. The theses-posting is a myth. And yet, Marshall argues, this fact makes the incident all the more historically significant. In tracing how - and why - a 'non-event' ended up becoming a defining episode of the modern historical imagination. Marshall compellingly explores the multiple ways in which the figure of Martin Luther, and the nature of the Reformation itself, have been remembered and used for their own purposes by subsequent generations of Protestants and others - in Germany, Britain, the United States and elsewhere. As people in Europe, and across the world, prepare to remember, and celebrate, the 500th anniversary of Luther's posting of the theses, this book offers a timely contribution and corrective. The intention is not to 'debunk', or to belittle Luther's achievement, but rather to invite renewed reflection on how the past speaks to the present - and on how, all too often, the present creates the past in its own image and likeness.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 137 x 204 x 25mm | 308g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 20 black and white illustrations
  • 0199682011
  • 9780199682010
  • 127,791

About Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall, a native of the Orkney Islands, has since 2006 been Professor of History at the University of Warwick, and is a leading expert in the history of the Reformation and its impact in the British Isles and beyond. He is a winner of the Harold J. Grimm Prize for Reformation History, and has been shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award. He is co-editor of the English Historical Review, a frequent reviewer for the TLS, Literary Review, Tablet and other periodicals, and a regular lecturer to school and community groups. He is married with three daughters, and lives in Leamington Spa.show more

Review quote

1517 is a remarkable exploration of the Reformation's most famous scene, Martin Luther's posting of the Theses on the Wittenberg church door. By unpacking the memory and meaning of this episode as it has been interpreted and reinterpreted across five centuries of European history, Peter Marshall reveals how the contingencies of time and place have shaped our understanding of the Reformation and how the Reformation, in turn, has maintained its place in the historical imagination as a turning point on the path to the present. Packed with detail, stories, facts, and arguments, and beautifully written, this will surely prove to be one of the most original of the books written to mark the Reformation quincentenary. * C. Scott Dixon, author of The Church in the Early Modern Age * Interesting reading for both scholars of the Reformation and history buffs in general. Marshall finds a unique niche in a year replete with wider biographies of Luther and histories of the early Reformation. * Kirkus * A story worth telling... a beautiful example of what popular cultural history can be... Writers of future anniversary histories should take note. * Dmitri Levitin, Literary Review * Admirable work of detection, demythologisation, and historiography. * John Arnold, Church Times * Anyone wanting an accessible overview of the beginning of the Reformation and the role of Martin Luther will find Peter Marshall's 1517 an ideal read. [...] This is altogether an excellent book, not only for those who wish to learn something about the start of a movement, but also how today we try to come to an understanding of what history was, is, and can be. * Peter Costello, Irish Catholic * In 1517, Peter Marshall rounds up all the available evidence ... and lays it tidily before us with both clarity and a puckish enjoyment of its more absurb manifestations ... In this quincentennial year, the market is inevitably awash with books on Luther and the Protestant Reformation. If you only want to read one or two of them ... you could do a great deal worse than starting here. * Moira Briggs, Vulpes Libris *show more

Review Text

In 1517, Peter Marshall rounds up all the available evidence ... and lays it tidily before us with both clarity and a puckish enjoyment of its more absurb manifestations ... In this quincentennial year, the market is inevitably awash with books on Luther and the Protestant Reformation. If you only want to read one or two of them ... you could do a great deal worse than starting here. Moira Briggs, Vulpes Librisshow more

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