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Broken Idols of the English Reformation


  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521770187

£ 132.00

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About the Authors
  • Why were so many religious images and objects broken and damaged in the course of the Reformation? Margaret Aston's magisterial new book charts the conflicting imperatives of destruction and rebuilding throughout the English Reformation from the desecration of images, rails and screens to bells, organs and stained glass windows. She explores the motivations of those who smashed images of the crucifixion in stained glass windows and who pulled down crosses and defaced symbols of the Trinity. She shows that destruction was part of a methodology of religious revolution designed to change people as well as places and to forge in the long term new generations of new believers. Beyond blanked walls and whited windows were beliefs and minds impregnated by new modes of religious learning. Idol-breaking with its emphasis on the treacheries of images fundamentally transformed not only Anglican ways of worship but also of seeing, hearing and remembering.

    • A major new contribution to our understanding of the English Reformation
    • Analyses the causes and effects of iconoclasm and illuminates why certain types of images were particularly targeted
    • Sets iconoclasm within a wider process of religious revolution designed to create new generations of believers and new ways of belief
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Aston's forensic attention to detail, penetrating insight and comprehensive mastery of her subject are on show from the first page. This is a book that could only have been written after a lifetime of scholarly enquiry, and is a worthy testament to Aston's formidable skills as both writer and historian. … Broken Idols remains a suitably powerful, perceptive and significant final contribution to the field by a truly brilliant and inspirational scholar.' Jonathan Willis, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521770187
    • length: 1128 pages
    • dimensions: 255 x 184 x 54 mm
    • weight: 2.33kg
    • contains: 99 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I:
    1. The call to destroy
    2. Answering the call
    3. Steps to the temple
    Part II:
    4. Saints popular and unpopular: St Thomas of Canterbury and St George
    5. Reforming sound: bells and organs
    6. Images of the Trinity
    Part III:
    7. Windows
    8. The cross
    9. Word against image

  • Author

    Margaret Aston
    Margaret Aston is an independent scholar of Medieval History. She has formerly taught at Oxford, Cambridge and the Catholic University, Washington DC. Her work focusses on dissent both before and during the Reformation and iconoclasm and her publications include The Fifteenth Century, Faith and Fire, The King's Bedpost and England's Iconoclasts.

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