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The cover of Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s brilliant new book, Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland 1920–1940, features a collage of letters. One details a husband’s illness, another is a postcard of the Wellington Monument from Dublin’s Phoenix Park with ‘very urgent’ underlined on its face. A further letter pleads for assistance from Fr.
Martin Ingram’s 1987 book Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570–1640 is celebrated for many reasons.(1) Not least, it is recognised for its importance in rescuing ecclesiastical courts from previous unfavourable assessments that branded them corrupt and inefficient.
The bishops in 13th-century England have often received individual historiographical attention as key figures; the likes of Stephen Langton and Peter des Roches as major political actors, or Robert Grosseteste and John Pecham as intellectuals and ecclesiastical administrators.
The life and writings of Aelred of Rievaulx (1110–67) provide some of the most important material for the study of Cistercian monasticism in 12th-century England, Cistercian teachings and beliefs, and the relationship of the order with other ecclesiastical and secular bodies.
Naturalistic and atheistic worldviews have a long history in Western philosophy, but there was no identifiable culture of atheism within Europe until the 18th century. Prior to then, the number of genuine atheists in European countries was probably very small.
The medieval English parish was a fiendishly complex organism, whose intricacies become increasingly brain-frazzling as their microscopic analysis advances.
For many of us, the ongoing carnage in Syria is a self-evident humanitarian crisis. We do not need to be convinced that the children drowning at sea, the women and men, young and old, begging for entry into any country that will accept them are worthy of our help.
Every mode of writing history has its attendant dangers. The problem with so much conventional political and religious history is that it is an attempt to explain what actually happened. This seems sensible enough, of course, but it inevitably privileges the ways in which the successful historical actors valued their actions, as well as almost inevitably concentrating on an elite.
In his 2009 article ‘(Re)defining the English Reformation’, Peter Marshall described the recent explosion of English Reformation scholarship as something that had become ‘a large and untidy garden, alive with luxuriant foliage, periodic colorful blooms, and a smattering of undesirable weeds’.(1) If the English Reformation is a large, untidy garden, then the scholarship