History, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 2005


Published in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), pp. 329-330. Copyright © 2005 Renaissance Society of America; published by The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


Peters has written an important book about religion in late medieval and early modern England. Her discussion of the implications for women and gender in the transition in England from Catholicism to Protestantism is ingenious, thoughtful, and elegant. It is thoroughly researched and beautifully written. Peters questions the assumption that the loss of the Virgin Mary was a blow to women's status, arguing that Protestantism is not an alien environment for women because of the model of the frail Christian as a woman devoted to Christ. Rather than seeing the decisive moment for women's involvement being the break with Rome, rather, she posits, it was the later shift in Protestantism from Lutheranism to a more Calvinist strain. ... Peters used churchwarden accounts extensively for her research. She also examined wills of both men and women and many printed sermons and other theological works of the period. This book is beautifully produced with many illustrations and a full bibliography as well as notes. It deserves to be widely read.

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