The sixteenth century was an age of Reformation. There was religious reformation, as Protestantism came to England, Scotland and even Ireland, bringing liberation, chaos and bloodshed in its wake. And there was political reformation, as the Tudor and Stewart (later 'Stuart') monarchs made their authority felt within and beyond their kingdoms more than any of their predecessors. Together, these two reformations produced not only a new religion, but a new politics -absolutist yet pluralist, populist yet law-bound - and a new society - controlled, fractured, yet more widely engaged and empowered than ever before. In this book, Alec Ryrie provides an authoritative overview of these momentous events, showing how religion, politics and social change were always intimately interlinked, from the murderous politics of the Tudor court to the building and fragmentation of new religious and social identities in the parishes. Drawing on the most recent research, he explains why events took the course they did - and why that course was so often an unexpected and an unlikely one.
Alec Ryrie is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham.