Tutorial in the History of Reformation Europe


This tutorial explores the history and historiography of Christianity in Europe c. 1450-1650.  At the beginning of this period, the overwhelming majority of Europeans were bound together by a commonly-held Christian culture. In the sixteenth century, these bonds were shattered as Europeans debated what “Christianity” meant. By the seventeenth century, Europeans lived in a world divided by religion, and Christianity played a central role in Europeans’ interactions with others around the globe.  This tutorial surveys these transformations, incorporating recent work on subjects such as persecution and toleration, popular culture, and global missions.  It also provides an introduction to trends in the historiography of the Reformation, including the confessionalization thesis and recent calls for a post-confessional history.

Core Reading List:


  • Philip Benedict, Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).
  • Robert Bireley, The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1999).
  • Peter Blickle, Communal Reformation: The Quest for Salvation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, translated by Thomas Dunlap (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1992).
  • William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
  • Barbara B. Diefendorf, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
  • C. Scott Dixon, ed., The German Reformation: The Essential Readings (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).
  • Alastair Duke, Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries (London: Hambledon and London, 2003).
  • Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
  • Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2007).
  • David M. Luebke, ed., The Counter-Reformation: The Essential Readings (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation (New York: Penguin, 2005).
  • Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man between God and the Devil. Trans. Eileen Alliser-Schwarzbart (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
  • John W. O’Malley, Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).
  • R.W. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • Ethan H. Shagan, “Can Historians End the Reformation?” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 97 (2006): 298-306.
  • Lee Palmer Wandel, The Eucharist in the Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • George Huston Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962).

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
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