Episcopal Reform and Politics in Early Modern Europe

Edited by Jennifer Mara DeSilva

Paperback - £35.95

Publication date:

18 September 2012

Length of book:

240 pages


Truman State University Press

ISBN-13: 9781612480725

In the tumultuous period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when ecclesiastical reform spread across Europe, the traditional role of the bishop as a public exemplar of piety, morality, and communal administration came under attack. In communities where there was tension between religious groups or between spiritual and secular governing bodies, the bishop became a lightning rod for struggles over hierarchical authority and institutional autonomy. These struggles were intensified by the ongoing negotiation of the episcopal role and by increased criticism of the cleric, especially during periods of religious war and in areas that embraced reformed churches. This volume contextualizes the diversity of episcopal experience across early modern Europe, while showing the similarity of goals and challenges among various confessional, social, and geographical communities. Until now there have been few studies that examine the spectrum of responses to contemporary challenges, the high expectations, and the continuing pressure bishops faced in their public role as living examples of Christian ideals.

Contributors include: William V. Hudon, Jennifer Mara DeSilva, Raymond A. Powell, Hans Cools, Antonella Perin, John Alexander, John Christopoulos, Jill Fehleison, Linda Lierheimer, Celeste McNamara, Jean-Pascal Gay

“This volume of essays, all of which are based on original research, is quite distinctive in the way it presents the development of episcopacy in the age of the tridentine reformation. By presenting Europe’s bishops—from England to Italy—in their many roles, it shows just how difficult it was to reform such powerful figures. The essays unobtrusively introduce readers to the historiographies of several European countries, and thereby achieve a comprehensiveness that will encourage further reflection and, above all, further research on a major historical subject.”

—Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester