Christianity in the later Middle Ages was flourishing, popular and vibrant and the institutional church was generally popular - in stark contrast to the picture of corruption and decline painted by the later Reformers which persists even today. Norman Tanner, the pre-eminent historian of the later medieval church, provides a rich and authoritative history of religion in this pivotal period. Despite signs of turbulence and demands for reform, he demonstrates that the church remained powerful, self-confident and deeply rooted. Weaving together key themes of religious history - the Christian roots of Europe; the crusades; the problematic question of the Inquisition; the relationship between the church and secular state; the central role of monasticism; and, the independence of the English church - "The Ages of Faith" is an impressive tribute to a lifetime's research into this subject. But to many readers the central fascination of "The Ages of Faith" will be its perceptive insights into popular and individual spiritual experience: sin, piety, penance, heresy, the role of the mystics and even 'making merry'.
"The Ages of Faith" is a major contribution to the Reformation debate and offers a revealing vision of individual and popular religion in an important period so long obscured by the drama of the Reformation.
Norman Tanner is Professor of Church History at the Gregorian University in Rome. He previously held teaching positions in the faculties of both history and theology at the University of Oxford. A medieval historian of international stature, he is best known for his groundbreaking books on the great ecumenical councils of the Church, including the Middle Ages. He is also the author of a volume in the I.B. Tauris History of the Christian Church series, The Church in the Later Middle Ages.