In 2017, many people around the world either celebrated or lamented the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. According to the standard narrative, on 31 October 1517, a young German monk named Martin Lütter nailed a set of theological theses for debate upon the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.
On the 18th of June, 1556, Mr Francesco, a second-hand goods dealer with a shop near the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, borrowed two Greek manuscripts from the collection that would later become the heart of Venice’s famous Marciana library: Proclus on Platonic Theology, and The Commentary of Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras.
How Marriage Became One of the Sacraments: The Sacramental Theology of Marriage from its Medieval Origins to the Council of Trent / Philip L. Reynolds
I imagine that in recent years John Witte, the series editor of the Cambridge Studies in Law and Christianity, frequently crossed paths with the author of the monograph under review here. Both of them work as faculty at Emory University in Atlanta and are senior members of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, with Witte serving as its current director.
The aim to cover, in a single monograph, patterns and trends in memory across early modern Europe is an ambitious one. Yet if anyone could achieve this it would be Judith Pollmann. This is an ambitious book in its chronological and geographical scope, but is also pioneering in providing a meta-narrative of continuity and change in early modern memory practices.
Ask a historian of demonology to review a biography of an astrologer. It seemed like a good idea when the invitation arrived, and I happily consented. What could possibly go wrong? The subject seemed interesting.
Taming Capitalism Before its Triumph: Public Service, Distrust, & ‘Projecting’ in Early Modern England / Koji Yamamoto
It is hard to tell a non-deterministic story about the shift from early modern to modern economic practices: the terms we use (‘modernity’, ‘capitalism’, ‘economic’), the questions we ask, and the conclusions we draw are all inevitably weighed down by what we think or know about economic life today.
The Birth of Modern Belief: Faith and Judgment from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment / Ethan H. Shagan
The Birth of Modern Belief is seriously good. It is erudite, insightful, and cogent; but, above all, it enables us to think hard about the relationship between our past and our present.
The sub-branch of history that is known by the ambiguous (and frightening to undergraduates, cats, and many mainstream academics) name “historiography” seems to be undergoing a Renaissance at the moment.
The book series ‘Ideas in Context’, published by Cambridge University Press since 1984, has played a major role in establishing the history of political thought as a prominent field of research and debate. Although the series’ roots lie in the so-called Cambridge school of intellectual history associated with J.G.A.