The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580

Eamon Duffy (Author)


This prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people's experience of religion in fifteenth-century England. Eamon Duffy shows that late medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but was a strong and vigorous tradition, and that the Reformation represented a violent rupture from a popular and theologically respectable religious system. For this edition, Duffy has written a new Preface reflecting on recent developments in our understanding of the period.

Product Details

Yale University Press
Publish Date
May 10, 2005
6.1 X 1.7 X 9.1 inches | 2.54 pounds
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About the Author

Eamon Duffy is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and President of Magdalene College. He is the author of Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes and The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village, both available in paperback from Yale University Press.


"This book will afford enjoyment and enlightenment to layman and specialist alike. Duffy sweeps the reader along through its six hundred pages by a style which eschews both jargon and pedantry, by his lively and absorbing detail, his piercing insights, patient analysis, and his vigor in debate."--Peter Heath, Times Literary Supplement

"With the publication of this book, a kind of map or illustrated atlas of late medieval English Christianity, English Reformation studies will never be the same again."--Patrick Collinson, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A magnificent scholarly achievement, a compelling read, and not a page too long to defend a thesis which will provoke passionate debate."--Patricia Morison, Financial Times

"Sensitively written and beautifully produced, this book represents a major contribution to the Reformation debate."--Norman Tanner, Times

"Unfailingly temperate, judicious, and scholarly. . . . [The book] has a fascinating story to tell."--James Bowman, Sunday Telegraph

"The first serious attempt by a historian to restore Mary's reputation in more than four hundred years."--Simon Denison, Sunday Telegraph

"[This book] at last gives the culture of the late Middle Ages in England its due, and helps us to see the period as it was and not as Protestant reformers and their intellectual descendants imagined it to be. . . . A monumental and deeply felt work."--Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement

"This is a remarkable and significant work of historical 'revision, ' which cannot be dismissed as a product of nostalgic longing for a Catholic past."--Anne Murphy SHCJ, John Pridmore, The Way

"[A] vigorous and eloquent book, a work of daring revision and a masterpiece of the historical imagination. . . . At once meticulous and lush. . . . A wholly compelling book, this will appeal to any reader who wants to enter and understand another world."--Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly

"Revisionist history at its most imaginative and exciting. . . . [An] astonishing and magnificent piece of work."--Edward T. Oakes, Commonweal

"A valuable source of information supported with excellent illustrations and bibliography."--Choice

"The importance of this book is that it affords opportunity to look broadly and comprehensively at the religious life of women and men before and after the separation from the Roman obedience and so take the measure of that life that in the continuum of English church history it can be noted and honored."--David Siegenthaler, Anglican Theological Review

"Deeply imaginative, movingly written, and splendidly illustrated."--Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books

"A landmark book in the history of the Reformation."--Ann Eljenholm Nichols, Sixteenth Century Journal

"A moving elegy for the pre-Reformation Church, full of evocative detail."--Thomas Cocke, Churchscape

Winner of the Longman-History Today Bookof the Year Award