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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
De Lamar Jensen’s "Reformation Europe: Age of Reform and Revolution" is a scholastic and at times overlapping continuation of his "Renaissance Europe." Whereas much of "Renaissance" focuses on the Italian states, "Reformation" broadens its scope to include the rest of the European continent, including the eastern and Scandinavian nations that may not be at the forefront of people’s thoughts of the Reformation. Perceptions are challenged frequently: how often does one associate Sweden with being the leading military power in the world, as they were briefly in the 17th century under Gustavus Adolphus, or that Switzerland, the paragon of neutrality, supplied most of the soldiers used to wage continental wars? Jensen makes clear that the progress of the Renaissance was negated by the nearly monomaniacal obsession with religion during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, which precipitated vicious wars. Although religion continued to color the entire political economy of the continent, there was also astonishing epochal leaps: the exploitation of the New World, nascent capitalism, and tremendous gains in the arts: Shakespeare is commonly held up as a prime example, although Miguel Cervantes, Michel de Montaigne, and Christopher Marlowe in their professional and personal lives may have better exemplified the future- and, in Cervantes’ case, better castigated the present and past. That this age began with Jakob Fugger and ended with the Dutch East (and West) India Company is a good indication of the dizzying economic and geopolitical changes during these centuries. As religion is the dominant theme of the era, Jensen ably discusses Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, along with their times. Particularly interesting is his linking of the prevalence of Swiss mercenaries- and the Vatican’s dependence on them- with the lenient treatment Zwingli received from the Catholic Church relative to Luther. The anticlimactic Marburg Colloquy betwen the two rebel priests was especially disappointing given their substantial agreement on everything except the Eucharist. It was particularly ironic that Luther died in his bed, while Zwingli was killed ministering to the soldiers of Zurich during the Second Kappel War. Politics was the root of all of the religious wars, even in Switzerland, where hostility to the idea of government was acute. Although the bubonic plague was another recurring and mortifying fact of life in this period, Jensen is conscientious enough to remind the reader that there were a variety of other causes of early mortality, from other infectious diseases to famine. He also documents the various peasant revolts ot the period, which occurred in virtually every country of note. Jensen’s degree of scholarship is evident throughout the densely packed book, and is particularly impressive when one considers that he was a native of Idaho and devout member of the Mormon Church, neither of which suggests one as a likely candidate to be a meticulous expert on the Europe of 500 years ago. Although works he penned for Latter Day Saints periodicals include such novelties as scriptural support from the Book of Mormon to justify the existence and acts of Christopher Columbus (who he strenuously defended, if not lionized), Jensen was cognizant of his audience and refrained from such acts in this book. Though commendable, it may be part of what made the book seem less inviting to me than Tierney’s Western Europe in the Middle Ages: as counterintuitive as it may seem, Jensen’s tremendous respect for his subject matter and reader make his prose less sparkling than Tierney’s. Tierney’s sentences tend to be shorter and punchier, and his descriptions of royalty more frank and uncompromising: “Philip VI… was succeeded by his son John, who was called for no reason any historian has been able to fathom ‘the Good.’” The prospect of such a line coming from the pen of Jensen is inconceivable. Further, although Jensen’s discussion of Henry VIII’s famous break with the Catholic Church is adequate, it does not link or...
Review: Reformation Europe: Age of Reform and RevolutionUser Review - Goodreads
Finally, after a long slog (reading the assigned portions as I slowly made my way through the lectures for my online class) I've finished the book. Because it took me so long to read this book and ...