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English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation


John Vidmar OP has taught History at the Ohio Dominican College, Providence College, and at the Dominican House of Studies, where he served as Associate Professor, Academic Dean, Acting President and Prior. He has lectured extensively at the Smithsonian Institution (a History of the Popes, a History of the Reformation, a History of Religious Orders, and the English Christian Literary Revival of the Twentieth Century). His present position is at the Priory of Saint Thomas Aquinas at Providence College, Rhode Island.

For almost 400 years, Roman Catholics have been writing about the English Reformation, but their contributions have been largely ignored by the scholarly world and the reading public. Thus the myths of corrupt monasteries, a “Bloody” Mary, and a “Good” Queen Bess have established themselves in the popular mind. John Vidmar re-examines this literature systematically from the time of the Reformation itself, to the early 1950s, when Philip Hughes produced his monumental Reformation in England. The author introduces all the major historians (and many lesser lights) who have tackled this issue, including: Nicholas Sanders, Charles Dodd, John Lingard, Lord Acton, Aidan Gasquet, and Hilaire Belloc.

English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585–1954 supplies information long missing from the Reformation Debate. In exploring the divergent opinions of Catholic historians, John Vidmar offers a critique of the body of Catholic writing and discovers that, quite simply, there is no Catholic “version” of the English Reformation. By evaluating Catholic historical writing as a whole, he reaches conclusions which have not been hitherto possible by treating individual historians. Patterns and directions of Catholic thought over four centuries are illuminated, and set a basis for a new “revisionism” on the Reformation in England.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-007-1
Hardback Price: £47.50 / $69.50
Release Date: April 2005
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-028-6
Paperback Price: £19.95 / $29.95
Release Date: September 2019
Page Extent / Format: 252 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Abbreviations and Notes

Introduction: History and Religion

1 Exiles and Appellants

2 The Quest for Catholic Emancipation

3 John Lingard and the Cause of Catholicism

4 The Jesuits and Mark Tierney

5 The Restoration of the Middle Ages and Monasticism

6 Archbishop Cranmer and the Anglican Liturgy

7 The Church of England and the Papacy



In English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585–1954, Father John Vidmar, O.P. puts Catholic writers back into the debate on the nature of the Reformation in England. His book shines a spotlight on the central issue of the papacy’s claim to spiritual authority, from the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, to the controversies surrounding Catholic Emancipation, to the twentieth century’s Aidan Gasquet, Hilaire Belloc and Philip Hughes. In tracing important changes to the practice of writing history, Father Vidmar shows that the best historians over the centuries have usually collected the best documents.
Susan Wabuda, Fordham University

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