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Book Review Religion Early Modern History Ba Essay

1031 words - 5 pages

Set 2 Dr.M.Pattenden 15076931
The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700: A Reassessment of the Counter-Reformation. By Robert Bireley. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1999. Vii + 231pp.
Bireley is a professor of history at Loyola University, Chicago and is known to mainly specialise in European history concentrating on early modern Catholicism and Jesuit history. In this book Bireley tries to show how the changes in Catholicism during the early modern period were not entirely down to the protestant reformation but that it is a combination of five changes, which he sets out in his book. This is a different outlook on what has previously been done as many theories about Catholic reform are focused on Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. These changes that he sets out are the advancement and the development of the state, the European expansion into America and Asia, the renaissance period and lastly the Protestant Reformation.
Bireley automatically dismisses the terms ‘Catholic Reformation’ and ‘Counter-Reformation’ to describe the changes that took place, as he does not believe that these terms can cover all the changes and actions of Catholicism during this period. However he does use the term ‘Counter-Reformation’ within his title so perhaps his quick dismissal of the term can be quite contradictory. Instead within the book he decides to take on John W. O’Malley’s term of ‘Early Modern Catholicism’ as he believes other credible arguments on the subject are being ignored by the use of the two other terms.
Bireley looks at several topics in closer detail across his chapters including: New religious orders, the council of Trent and Papacy, church and state and religious wars, piety and evangelization, education, Christianization beyond Europe and lastly Christian life. He chooses these topics to reinforce his point of the transitions on Catholicism and within these chapters Bireley focuses on how key figures within society help to maintain and keep the Catholic faith such as Jean Baptiste de la Salle and Phillip II of Spain, and how many of these people helped in the role of education. This brings on another point of Bireley’s book, in that a main theme throughout the book is education and how this helped with the ‘Counter-Reformation’. An example of this is in his first chapter on new religious orders where he mentions the important work of schools within the orders of the 16th century. This chapter also shows a viewpoint of how people lived their religious life within parts of society but when reading other chapters this viewpoint changes such as in the council of Trent and the papacy and the church, state and religious wars, there is more of an element of how social order is pursued. These differences in how he is viewing things can often make the book a difficult and complicated read.
Another theme found all through the book is...

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