Carlos M.N. Eire, Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 (Yale University Press 2016, 920pgs.)
What can I say about Reformations that Eamon Duffy didn’t cover in his outstanding review, “The End of Christendom“? Despite its considerable heft, one thought ran through my head after I finished each chapter: I have to read this again. Eire’s prose is neither dense nor intentionally complicated; but the sheer array of material he draws effortlessly together cannot be digested in a single run through a book which, I pray, every thoughtful Catholic sits down with in this, the 500th sorrowful anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt against the Church. Why these reform movements broke out across Europe and what they left in their wake are at the heart of Eire’s analysis, as his sobering account of the decrepit state of the Church in the 16th Century. Catholics, particularly traditional Catholics, are unlikely to be comfortable with much of what Eire has to say about that. Good. Romanticizing the past cannot help anyone prepare for the future or, for that matter, deal with the present.