The Reformation was a seismic event in history, whose consequences are still working themselves out in Europe and across the world. The protests against the marketing of indulgences staged by the German monk Martin Luther in 1517 belonged to a long-standing pattern of calls for internal reform and renewal in the Christian Church. But they rapidly took a radical and unexpected turn, engulfing first Germany and then Europe as a whole in furious arguments about how God's will was to be 'saved'. However, these debates did not remain confined to a narrow sphere of theology. They came to reshape politics and international relations; social, cultural, and artistic developments; relations between the sexes; and the patterns and performances of everyday life. They were also the stimulus for Christianity's transformation into a truly global religion, as agents of the Roman Catholic Church sought to compensate for losses in Europe with new conversions in Asia and the Americas.
Covering both Protestant and Catholic reform movements, in Europe and across the wider world, this beautifully illustrated volume tells the story of the Reformation from its immediate, explosive beginnings, through to its profound longer-term consequences and legacy for the modern world. The story is not one of an inevitable triumph of liberty over oppression, enlightenment over ignorance. Rather, it tells how a multitude of rival groups and individuals, with or without the support of political power, strove after visions of 'reform'. And how, in spite of themselves, they laid the foundations for the plural and conflicted world we now inhabit.
Peter Marshall was born and raised in the Orkney Islands, and educated at Oxford University. Since 1994, he has taught at the University of Warwick, and has been Professor of History there since 2006. He is a specialist in the history of the Reformation, particularly its impact in the British Isles, and has written seven books and over fifty articles around these themes. He is a winner of the Harold J. Grimm Prize for best article in Reformation History. An editorial board member of Sixteenth Century Journal, he is a co-editor of English Historical Review. He also appears regularly on TV and radio to discuss the Reformation and history of religion, and is a frequent reviewer for a range of periodicals, including the Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, and The Tablet. He is married with three daughters, and lives in Leamington Spa.