Charity and Lay Piety in Reformation London, 1500–1620: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Charity and Lay Piety in Reformation London, 1500–1620

1st Edition

By Claire S. Schen


297 pages

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Hardback: 9780754600985
pub: 2002-12-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315260631
pub: 2017-03-02
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The degree to which the English Protestant Reformation was a reflection of genuine popular piety as opposed to a political necessity imposed by the country's rulers has been a source of lively historical debate in recent years. Whilst numerous arguments and documentary sources have been marshalled to explain how this most fundamental restructuring of English society came about, most historians have tended to divide the sixteenth century into pre and post-Reformation halves, reinforcing the inclination to view the Reformation as a watershed between two intellectually and culturally opposed periods. In contrast, this study takes a longer and more integrated approach. Through the prism of charity and lay piety, as expressed in the wills and testaments taken from selected London parishes, it charts the shifting religious ideas about salvation and the nature and causes of poverty in early modern London and England across a hundred and twenty year period. Studying the evolution of lay piety through the long stretch of the period 1500 to 1620, Claire Schen unites pre-Reformation England with that which followed, helping us understand how 'Reformations' or a 'Long Reformation' happened in London. Through the close study of wills and testaments she offers a convincing cultural and social history of sixteenth century Londoners and their responses to religious innovations and changing community policy.


'… adds considerable texture to our understanding of cultural change in early modern London.' History '… a study which adds greatly to our detailed knowledge of the charitable needs and instincts of Londoners, and modifies received perceptions in small but significant ways. The research is thorough and careful…' Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte '… articulate… compelling and important…' Albion

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Prayers and purgatory: wills on the eve of Reformation, 1500-1538: Wills and the church fabric; Prayers and services; Poverty and piety; The old and the new ways: wills and charity, 1539-1580: Reform, restoration, and survivals; Foundations old and new; Death, burial, and commemoration; Poverty and charity; Piety and the Reformation parish, 1580-1620: Reworking the fabric; Reformed piety; Charity and social control, 1580-1620: Centralising relief; Schemes and work; Social control; For the most need: comparative views of reform: The parish and its sources; Peculiarities of London?; Protestant and Catholic charity?; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General