Looking for good book on the Reformation


Hi -

I’m looking for a good book on the Reformation that has a balanced perspective - neither strongly Protestant-biased nor strongly Catholic-biased. I appreciate any recommendations.



Historians are human so I am not sure you are going to get a history on the reformation that does not reflect the views of its historian. I suppose it is possible though :shrug: Best to study the historian before you read the history.

With that being said I liked Hilaire Belloc’s How the Reformation Happened. He also has another titled Characters of the Reformation that was also worth the read.

God bless


I just borrowed Roots of the Reformation by Cecily Hastings from a friend. It was recommended at our homeschool conference.


The Reformation by Will Durant

Its part of The Story of Civilization.

If you are lacking in humility about the Catholic Church, this book will give it to you.


I would recommend **“The Cleaving of Christendom” **by Warren Carroll. It is a masterful work.


By a non-Catholic (Anglican), try…

The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy. He recently updated to a 2nd edition, 2005. It is considered a standard work from Yale Univ Press on the English Reformation, and what happened to the Catholic Church in England from c. 1400 - 1580. He critiques previous work done by Protestant historians, and writes in the preface to the second edition:

“The first and larger part of The Stripping of the Altars was an attempt to place the debate about the Reformation in a longer perspective, to grapple with the evident inability of many Reformation historians to take medieval religion seriously, and to help modern readers recover a sense of the power, integrity and internal logic of that distinctive religious culture. In particular it seemed important to contest the widely shared perception that by 1500 this was a failing religion that had already alienated or lost the commitment of the more intelligent and forward-looking of its lay audience. I sought to show that, on the contrary, medieval English Catholicism was, up to the very moment of its dissolution, a highly successful enterprise, the achievement by the official church of a quite remarkable degree of lay involvement and investment, and of a corresponding degree of doctrinal orthodoxy.” (Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, preface to 2nd edition)

A standard Catholic source is by Fr. Philip Hughes A Popular History of the Reformation for a short treatise, or The Reformation in England (3 volumes) for a detailed account. Of course the latter is the English Reformation only.

Phil P

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