Drawing primarily from Suffolk sources, this book explores the development and place of Protestantism in early modern society, defined as much in terms of its practice in local communities as in its more public pronouncements from those in authority. Using detailed analysis of four communities, Mildenhall, Bury St Edmunds, Thetford and Hadleigh, John Craig explores the responses and initiatives of these towns to the question of the Reformation in the 16th century. A fascinating picture emerges of the preoccupations and priorities of particular groups. The political goals and consciousness of townsmen and tradesmen are examined, and the problems of analyzing the evidence for ascribing religious motivations to urban factions are highlighted. The case of Hadleigh addresses some aspects of the connection often made between the growth of Protestantism and the incidence of social division and conflict. These local studies provide the basis for a broader perspective on urban reformation in East Anglia.
'... the book is more than the sum of its parts. Its recurring concern to elucidate the role of townspeople as 'mediators and definers of the crown's policy' is a historiographical advance, helping us to understand how the Reformation was actualized (...) at a local level.' History 'A fascinating account...' Religious Studies Review '... finely executed... splendid... As well as engaging in an illuminating way with the ongoing debate about the English Reformation, it sets a new standard of scholarship for historians of the urban Reformation.' Alexandra Walsham, Continuity and Change 'That this is an important book for ecclesiastical historians and students of the Reformation hardly needs saying, but it is also a 'must' for urban, local and cultural historians and it presents a model for thoses who may attempt similar studies for rural parishes.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History '... an important book... worth reading...' Anglican and Episcopal History 'While much that appears in this book will be familiar to those who have read Craig's articles, this beautifully produced monograph brings together material first appearing in journals that are not readily accessible to all who would benefit from Craig's fine scholarship.'.. Craig's fine work sheds considerable light on the reception of reformed religious ideas in the localities and is important reading for students of English Protestantism.' Sixteenth Century Journal '... a well-researched and fascinating study...' Cultural and Social History