Reformations The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 Carlos M. N. Eire

Publication date:
06 Sep 2016
Yale University Press
920 pages: 254 x 178 x 57mm
155 b-w illus.

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A lively, expansive history of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations and the momentous changes they set in motion

This fast-paced survey of Western civilization’s transition from the Middle Ages to modernity brings that tumultuous period vividly to life. Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the two-hundred-year era of the Renaissance and Reformation with particular attention to issues that persist as concerns in the present day. Eire connects the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in new and profound ways, and he demonstrates convincingly that this crucial turning point in history not only affected people long gone, but continues to shape our world and define who we are today.
The book focuses on the vast changes that took place in Western civilization between 1450 and 1650, from Gutenberg’s printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years’ War. Eire devotes equal attention to the various Protestant traditions and churches as well as to Catholicism, skepticism, and secularism, and he takes into account the expansion of European culture and religion into other lands, particularly the Americas and Asia. He also underscores how changes in religion transformed the Western secular world. A book created with students and nonspecialists in mind, Reformations is an inspiring, provocative volume for any reader who is curious about the role of ideas and beliefs in history.

Carlos Eire is T. L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University. He is the author of several scholarly books and two memoirs, including Waiting for Snow in Havana, for which he received the National Book Award. He lives in Guilford, CT.

“It takes an unusually perceptive, judicious, knowledgeable, and yes brave person to write a book this big and sweeping, given all the ink spelled and trees felled and terabytes devoted to the Reformation, and Carlos Eire is all of those. It is beautifully structured, gracefully written, evenhanded in its treatment of Catholic, Protestant, and Radical movements, and most importantly equally at home in the Reformation and the present. Read this and you will understand both worlds better.”—Craig Harline, Author of Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America

“Carlos Eire’s Reformations is a work of remarkable scope and ambition, a magnificent sweep through four centuries, and as many continents, tracing in original and perceptive ways the unforeseeable consequences—in religion, politics, culture, science—of the convulsions that started in western Christianity at the close of the Middle Ages. Eire writes with insight and empathy about the values and visions of a fervent and often violent age. He does not shield us from the strangeness and complexity of the past, but we come away with a much enhanced understanding of the lines connecting it to our present.”—Peter Marshall, University of Warwick

“An ambitious and highly successful project. Wonderfully balanced and nicely nuanced, the book is a genuine tour de force in bringing together the various elements of the Reformations, from their meaning for the educated and sophisticated proponents (and opponents) to their reception (or rejection) by the mass of ordinary and unlettered persons who ‘lived’ amid the swirl of religious change.”—Raymond Mentzer, University of Iowa

“Carlos Eire contributes to our understanding of the Reformations as Europe-wide phenomena, highlights the diversity of Protestantism, and shows how vibrant Catholic reform could be.”—Kathryn A. Edwards, University of South Carolina

“Eire’s vast learning is on display throughout this enormous (and handsomely illustrated) work.”—Michael Massing, New York Times Book Review

“Among the greatest merits of Eire’s survey are its remarkable clar¬ity in expounding difficult theological ideas and complex political changes, its calm comprehensiveness, and its sober judgments, expressed with an unemphatic evenhandedness. . . . Eire’s majes¬tically comprehensive survey leaves no doubt about the enduring consequences, for good and ill, of the re¬ligious upheavals of the sixteenth and subsequent centuries.”—Eamon Duffy, First Things

“Beguiling . . . Though Eire lays out his argument quite clearly, this is not a thesis-driven book. Rather, it is a detail-rich crosscutting narrative . . . you will learn a great deal and be entertained along the way.”—John Wilson, National Review

“Any serious study of the Reformation’s origins and impact requires a willingness to traverse a veritable minefield of longstanding theological and historiographical arguments . . . Eire does that and more. [Reformations] is likely to become one of the definitive studies of this period.”—Samuel Gregg, Library of Law and Liberty

“A remarkable achievement. [Eire] takes immense pains to give an even-handed account of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations… This massive and remarkable book presents convincing evidence.”—Anthony Kenny, Literary Review

“This is a huge book but don’t be put off by its size. It more than lives up to Eire’s promise in his preface of being an introduction and survey for beginners and non-specialists… Eire’s prose is transparent, elegant and witty, his narrative enlivened by sparkling insights and one-liners.”—Anne Dillon, The Tablet

“Magnificent”—Mark Noll, Books and Culture

“Fascinating reading. The author is a gifted writer who particularly excels at the ability to expound theological ideas. If you read only one book about the Reformation in the year of its 500th anniversary, this is probably the one to choose.”—Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper

Winner of the 2017 American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the European & World History category.

Winner of the 2017 American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the Excellence in Humanities category.

Winner of the 2017 R.R. Hawkins Award given by the American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE).

“Monumental”—Charlotte Methuen, TLS

“[Reformations] provides a readable and stimulating overview of European history between 1450 and 1650 (and often well into the 18th century) that is accessible to newcomers to the discipline, while being sufficiently broad and well-researched to be useful to specialists in early modern history who wish to know more about aspects of the period outside of their area of expertise.”—Sam Kennerley, Reviews in History 

“This is certainly a good read . . . this enormous survey is well worth reading for its insights and some shrewd assessments.”—Dr. G. R. Evans, Church Times