The Secularization of Early Modern England
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The Secularization of Early Modern England : From Religious Culture to Religious Faith

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Description

In this provocative work, Sommerville examines the onset of secularization in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England, exploring how and why various aspects of life - art, language, work, play, technology, and power - became divorced from religious values. The work helps modern readers understand what life was like in an age in which religion suffused society and was as basic to thought as the structure of language. Sommerville argues that secularization began earlier in England than many historians believe - even before Henry VIII's seizure of power over the church in the 1530s - and that it advanced in concert with the Protestant Reformation. As more aspects of daily life were divorced from religious values and controls, religious culture was supplanted by religious faith, a reasoned (rather than an unquestioned) belief in the supernatural.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 164.3 x 243.6 x 22.9mm | 530.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • tables
  • 0195074270
  • 9780195074277
  • 1,656,552

Review quote

This is an ambitious and largely successful essay about the contraction of the religious sphere in England, consequent upon the Reformation. His emphasis on the role of politics and ideas, rather than on socio-economic determinants, is refreshing. Sommerville is able to breathe new life into the somewhat discredited notion of a Tudor 'revolution' under Henry VIII - no mean feat. * Nicholas Tyacke, University College, London, History * 'As a general introduction ... the book has its uses. It is, on the whole, well written, and the author is aware of the apparent contradictions in the period he covers.' Heythrop Journal 'His emphasis on the role of politics and ideas, rather than on socio-economic determinants, is refreshing. Sommerville is able to breathe new life into the somewhat discredited notion of a Tudor 'revolution' under Henry VIII - no mean feat.' Nicholas Tyacke, Early Modern History 'The Secularization of Early Modern England would be a good supplementary reader for an undergraduate or graduate course on the Tudor-Stuart period. Sommerville underscores the importance of ideology in understanding the historical process.' Amy Thompson McCandless, The College of Charleston, The Historian (US) 'a book of unusual range and ambition ... the cumulative effect is certainly imposing and thought-provoking ... It is full of individual insights, and it is written with clarity and purpose.' Times Higher Education Supplement 'Sommerville's thesis is ably argued and supported by an impressive array of illustrative source-material. It is persuasive to a degree.' Times Literary Supplementshow more

Back cover copy

Secularization is a subject of daunting size and is filled with ambiguity. Through the use of insights gained from anthropology and sociology, and by studying an earlier period than is usually considered, this provocative work overcomes the usual obstacles to exploring and explaining why various aspects of life--art, language, work, play, technology, and power--became divorced from religious values in early modern England. Sommerville helps modern readers understand what life was like in an age in which society was suffused with religion and was as basic to thought as the structure of language. Concentrating not only on a decline of religious belief, which is the last aspect of secularization, he shows that a transformation of England's cultural grammar preceded the loosening of belief, and that this was largely accomplished between 1500 and 1700, much earlier than commonly believed. Sommerville asserts that only when definitions of space and time changed, and language and technology were transformed (as well as art and play) could a secular world view be sustained. Demonstrating that the process was more political and theological than economic or social, Sommerville shows that as aspects of daily life became divorced from religious values and controls, religious culture was supplanted by religious faith--a reasoned, rather than an unquestioned, belief in the supernatural. The first large-scale treatment of the history of secularization, The Secularization of Early Modern England will greatly interest students of history, religion, sociology, anthropology, and literature.show more

About C. John Sommerville

Author of The Rise and Fall of Childhood (1982)show more

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