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Reinventing the counter-reformation in marian England, 1553-1558

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Smith, FE 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pOver the last thirty years, historians have made several important contributions to our understanding of the short but dramatic restoration of Catholicism in 1550s England. United by a shared rejection of the hitherto dominant interpretation of Mary I's reign as a retrograde and unfortunate interlude in the history of the English Reformation, so-called ‘revisionists’ have convincingly argued that Mary in fact presided over a remarkably dynamic and innovative revival of Catholicism. Whilst this scholarship has been extremely valuable in tackling the teleological assumption that Marian Catholicism was predestined to fail, this review suggests that the revisionist programme continues to be preoccupied by somewhat ill-conceived and unhelpful questions about how ‘successful’ Mary's church was in providing for a Catholic future. Such questions demonstrate just how far the historiography of Marian religion continues to operate within a framework still subtly shaped by sixteenth-century, confessionally charged polemic. This review suggests that, rather than debates about ‘successes’ or ‘failures’, we need to start working outwards from the valuable findings of revisionists regarding the dynamism of Marian religion, exploring their broader implications for how we understand the long-term development of Catholicism in England, as well as the Marian church's place within European Christendom more broadly.</jats:p>



4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

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Historical Journal

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)


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