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Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  87 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A lively, expansive history of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations and the momentous changes they set in motion

This fast-paced survey of Western civilization’s transition from the Middle Ages to modernity brings that tumultuous period vividly to life. Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the two-hundred-year era of the Renaissance and Reformat
Hardcover, 920 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Yale University Press (first published September 28th 2006)
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Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reformations is a grand narrative history which modestly calls itself an 'introduction' and a 'survey'. This is a dense and bulky volume, which splits theological hairs and does not shirk the intricate arguments about theology. One way I could convince an interested reader of the book's scale is to list the contents.

The introduction, On The Edge, provides a backdrop on the state of the church and the idea of Christendom, early humanism, and some of the earlier movements which dissented against
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book presents an historical survey of what many refer to as “The Protestant Reformation” or more simply “The Reformation”. The author is a distinguished historian of religion at Yale who appears to have read everything on the subject (along with a great deal more). Professor Eire quickly lets the reader know that it is not really appropriate to refer to the Reformation as a single act - although it is commonly done. There were lots of separate movements to break with and reform the Church an ...more
J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thank you for the reccomendation, PARTHAN. I'm going to see if I can have it lent to me via Inter-library Loan in the next week or two. This looks like a great read and I'd never heard of it nor the author - thanks again!


Another welcome addition to my personal library. The next time anyone fanatically religious or fanatically atheist gets into the crux of where the Western World dwelleth today, do present them with this book; in the worst case scenario you shall come to reminisce over the guill

Half a millennium after a lone monk began a theological dispute that eventually tore Western Christendom asunder both religiously and politically, does the event known as the Reformation still matter? In his book Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, Carlos M.N. Eire determined to examine the entire period leading up to and through the epoch of the Reformation. An all-encompassing study for beginners and experts looks to answer that question.

Eire divided his large tome into four parts
John Sinclair
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This took me a long while, but it was really worth the effort. I’ve read several tomes on “the Reformation” in the past few years. What differentiates this from them is a focus on plural Reformations, the Protestant and the Catholic (without succumbing to confessional bias). Most Reformation histories that I have read do not trace the history of the changes in the Catholic tradition other than to label it as Counter-Reformation (solely in response to the Protestant Reformation, as a foil (what w ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars (when will Goodreads instituting a sliding scale rather than the star system)

This is a broad sweep across Europe and it's colonies pre-, post-, and during the events immediately following Luther's distribution of his 95 theses. Eire does a fantastic job of organizing the events, though with some tedium to be expected from a 900 page book. And you get the obligatory "oh, dates aren't exact and labeling events as Reformation and Counter-Reformation puts history into arbitrary boxes, etc.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, history
Eire regularly teaches a course called "Reformation Europe", a term he defines and defends in that course's first lecture. It isn't "early modern Europe", for instance: You could teach a course with that title centered on economic history and never mention Luther at all. In the book that has come out of this teaching, Eire goes one step further. He wants to defend the Reformations as essential to early modernity and definitive for the modernity that follows, over against (especially) Marxian his ...more
Wilhelm Weber
For someone, who is familiar with the Lutheran Reformation, this book adds definite value and scope by going way beyond Wittenberg and even the protestant reformations by illustrating the catholic ones in Spain, Italy, the French and British Reformations, but also those in reforma movements affecting missions in the new worlds discovered in the East and in the West and even describing the alternative reformations of the radicals and enthusiasts i.e. the forebears of today's spiritual and religio ...more
Christian Turcu
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are two major works if you are interested in the history of the modern Christian church. One is the sixth volume in the History of Civilization by Will Durant, whose perspective is usually broader as the name indicates. The other one is this magisterial treatise by Carlos Eire, who masterfully explains the historical context before presenting ALL reformations in the Protestant and Catholic church. Durant, whose first five volumes I have already read, might be the easier choice, though the ...more
Steve Herreid
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive, magisterial work which discusses and assesses the Reformation(s) (author's take) from multiple perspectives. I thought this book was awesome. Very clear, cogent and readable by the layperson. As a Protestant I have read much more about the Reformation from that viewpoint. This work includes several interesting chapters addressing the ways in which the Roman Catholic church also reformed during this time period.
Jed Lindholm
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent - Deep and broad view

A wonderful read and valuable reference tool for anyone interested in connecting political, theological, economic, and scientific events. The author develops a great appreciation of the seismic shift in social structures that occurred over a 200 year period. The book's ideas helps put current events into new perspective, while appreciating the importance of belief.
Wendy Wong Schirmer
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Eire has written a solid survey of the Reformations-- both Protestant and Catholic-- that had such a formative impact on the modern world in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It's also a good example of patient and careful historical writing, admirably balanced in its judgments.
Thomas J.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank God for the printing press!
Tom Gorski
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
For the first time I really understand why there is an exclamation point when you click on "I'm finished" on a book you've completed in Goodreads...I am normally a fast reader but this one put me to the test and took about two weeks. I say that not to denigrate - it is fascinating and a readable history book. It does require discipline to slow yourself and also close it from time to time to contemplate. It is a remarkable examination of four centuries in Europe within which Christianity came asu ...more
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Opens with a strong image of the building of St Peter's, setting the context for indulgence-based fundraising for the Catholic Church. Moves on to excellent narratives of the German and Swiss reformations, and then the Catholic counter-reformation. But the book loses its narrative steam in the last third as chapters cycle through themes that are systematically addressed in each reformative context.
Todd Putney
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Carlos Eire can write. Think you don't like church history, try this book. In fact, the future of the church would look brighter if more of us did.
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A scholar of the social, intellectual, religious, and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, Carlos Eire is the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History & Religious Studies at Yale University. He received his PhD from Yale in 1979, and taught at St. John’s University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia before joining the Yale faculty in 1996.