Saturday, 26 December 2009

Cromwell and the English Reformation

This book was by a guy called Dickens (not, however, the Charles variety who wrote A Christmas Carol), and it was remarkably good. I really enjoyed it, despite the fact it was about fifty years old. Okay, perhaps history does move on and there might be different views put forward about things now, but I enjoyed the style of writing and the informative nature of the book. By looking at the English Reformation as a whole, but with a focus on Cromwell, it cut the information down into a more manageable introduction to the subject--useful as a) it can cover such a large amount of stuff and b) it's something I've never had a proper look at before, other than a vague awareness of the Pilgrimage of Grace and the fact that it happened because Henry wanted a new wife. This book (understandably) highlights the role of Cromwell as organiser and goes to some trouble to stress that he was not personally responsible for the closure of every abbey and that he was not a personally horrible man. It was a fascinating read, and I certainly enjoyed it. It was well organised, and (although it must be borne in mind I don't know a lot about the period so I don't really have any way of judging whether it was of adequate scope on that basis), it was comprehensive in what it covered and did not leave too many irritating unanswered questions. It was clearly written with the fact that the audience may know very little in mind, and for that reason I would cite it as an ideal introduction to the topic and one of the main figures in it.

My only reservation in recommending this book quite strongly lies in its age. I suspect it'll be hard to get hold of, yes, looking at Amazon it appears the most recent edition of this was in the 70s, so that's not going to be much good. Sorry about that. You might be able to reserve it from a library--I think they keep their stocks of older books hidden rather than getting rid of all of them (well, they must have a copy in the Lancashire Libraries because that's where I borrowed it from, through the History Readers' Group in Chorley Library). If you can get hold of a copy, I would suggest that it makes an interesting introduction to the topic, and gives you a bit of an understanding of it, without going into too much detail (which can be off putting in the first book on a subject you read, where you just want to get the basic stuff straight in your head before looking into it more).

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