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(with lavish title pages) and the Book of Common Prayer, as well as repeated editions of works such as Desiderius Erasmus’s Paraphrases (1517–23), John Jewel’s Apologia (1562), and Alexander Nowell’s Catechism (1549). There were not many printers in England with the confidence and resources to take on substantial projects, but there were some, such as Thomas Vautrollier, a Huguenot refugee who built up a considerable reputation in London as an accomplished printer, and published a number of editions of Lutheran and Calvinist works in English or Latin, including John Calvin’s massive Institutes (1536). Moreover, the shortcomings of Day’s output, even in some editions of prestige projects such as the Acts and Monuments—the poor quality of the paper and sometimes illegible type, the sloppy cross-referencing, the repeated use of the same illustrations within the covers of one book—are explained away as due to circumstances beyond his control or the assistants he used, such as his son, Robert.This monograph offers a most useful and informative account of a pivotal figure in the Tudor book trade, but Day’s reputation might be served as well by acknowledging the blemishes on his record, and his achievement be put in sharper perspective by comparing it with that of other leading printers both in England and abroad. University of Edinburgh IAN GREEN
The Chancery of God: Protestant Print, Polemic, and Propaganda against the Empire, Magdeburg, 1546–1551. By Nathan Rein. [St.Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Burlington,VT:Ashgate Publishing. 2008. Pp. xvi, 257. $114.95. ISBN 978-0-754-65686-9.) The resistance of the city of Madgeburg to imperial forces during the Schmalkaldic War has always presented something of a puzzle to historians of religion. Dubbing itself “The Lord God’s Chancery,” the city produced hundreds of pamphlets, outlining the reasons and justification for their resistance. The most famous of these tracts, the Magdeburg Confession, has long been of interest to students of political theory. But here lies the problem: the Confession has generally been seen as a starting point for the development of modern—hence secular—theories of resistance. Nathan Rein’s insightful analysis of the Magdeburg pamphlets provides an alternative reading of the texts, one that places them squarely within their proper social, political, and religious context. The book is based on an analysis of 228 of the 360 pamphlets known to have been produced in Magdeburg between 1546 and 1551.The author sets out to explain the circumstance that led the city to continue to fight a propaganda war well after the apparent imperial military victory. In the process, he seeks “to interpret [Magdeburg’s] resistance in terms of a Protestant worldview and sense of identity” (p. xiv).The first chapter surveys the pamphlets, considering their utility as sources. Here the author provides a careful and reasonable assessment of the challenges and opportunities involved in the study
of polemical literature.The second chapter considers the revolutionary character of the Protestant Reformation, stressing the essential contradictions between the political theology of the Habsburg emperors and nascent Lutheranism. Key here is the contrast between “German Liberty,” understood in terms of communal self-government, and the universalizing imperial notions of the Habsburg. This contradiction becomes even clearer in the chapter that follows, dealing with the Augsburg Interim of 1548, Charles’s flawed attempt to find a middle path between Confessional parties. A fatal weakness of the interim was the separation of the means of salvation from liturgical practice—while the former was presented as a modification of Lutheran solafideism, the Catholic liturgy was preserved not on account of the efficacy of the sacraments but almost entirely on historical grounds. The larger political implications were equally suspect: “the Interim structures ‘religion’ in a way that is particularly amenable to absolute governments” (p. 104). Whereas the imperial creed “revolves around hierarchy and order” the view of politics espoused in Magdeburg “centers on faith and scripture, placing liturgy at the service of the believing individualand minimizing the power of institutions to mediate holiness” (p. 120). The fourth chapter focuses on the pamphlets produced during the siege of the city between 1548 and 1551, focusing primarily on the Magdeburg Confession.The final chapter summarizes the overall Magdeburg view of the Christian community, examining specific ways in which the pamphleteers’ vision of civic and religious polity lay behind the ideas presented in the texts. One theme that runs through the book is the highly topical character of the pamphlets. Most modern treatments of the subject stress the influence of the Magdeburg pamphlets, emphasizing the universal character of their arguments. But as Rein points out, the authors did not aim to articulate a universal theory of resistance. Quite the opposite—much of their argument stressed the singularity of the struggle among the German people, the emperor, and the papacy. The “Protestant worldview” presented in the texts is firmly rooted in the traditional social structures of the autonomous urban commune.This is not to suggest that religious points of view were determined by social and economic realities, but rather that sixteenth-century people did not conceive of a separation between the two: any threat to their way of life was likewise a threat to their religious identity.While the “Protestant worldview” was necessarily confessional in nature, the author demonstrates how far removed the Magdeburgers’ conception of the social, religious, and political order was from that which informed the process of Confessionalization in Germany after 1550. This book has many strengths—few books exist that are so sensitive to the interconnections between social and religious life or to the interplay among imperial, territorial, and local politics within the empire.The texts are placed within their proper context without being “contextualized.” Dialogue, rather
than determinism, defines the author’s treatment of this wide-ranging corpus. The author is also to be praised for his methodological sensitivity and sensibility. Overall, this is a must-read for students of German religious and political history in the mid-sixteenth century.The scope of the treatment goes well beyond the geographical or temporal limits described in the title: indeed, careful consideration of Rein’s thesis may well force scholars to rethink some of the standard approaches to the history of Confessionalization and of the origins of modern theories of political resistance. Oglethorpe University WILLIAM BRADFORD SMITH
Humanism and the Reform of Sacred Music in Early Modern England: John Merbecke the Orator and The Booke of Common Praier Noted (1550). By Hyun-Ah Kim. [St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 2008. Pp. xviii, 246. $114.95. ISBN 978-0-754-66268-6.) An exact contemporary of Thomas Tallis, John Merbecke was born in c.1505 and was last noted as living in 1584. He spent all his professional life as a member of the illustrious choir of the collegiate church of St. George in Windsor Castle. For the Latin rite he became a solidly workmanlike composer of the extended and elaborate vocal polyphony of the 1520s and 1530s, leaving one substantial Mass and two long votive antiphons. An early admirer of Protestant objectives of reform, he also made a unique contribution to the vernacular Edwardian liturgy. The compilers of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer had no wish gratuitously to alienate its parish hearers by denying a role to those parish clerks and, in some churches, volunteer laity who formed an elementary choir to help the priest to sing the plainsong of the services; consequently, its rubrics allowed for continuation of the rendering of numerous appropriate passages by “the Clerks.” Merbecke thereupon took it upon himself to provide music for the resulting sung service. For much of the Office he was content to make a selection from the variety of plainsong chants available for each corresponding component in the traditional Salisbury Use, but for the Communion services he suppressed tradition and composed melodies of his own. For each text not delivered in a plain monotone he created a simple rhythmicized monody and for both styles engaged an orthochronic notation based on the plainsong symbols that alone were familiar to such amateur enthusiasts (rather than the mensural notation familiar to professionals).A volume of eighty-four octavo leaves, it was printed by Grafton and published as The Booke of Common Praier Noted (BCPN, 1550). For Merbecke as composer the author makes bold assertions. It is claimed that analysis of his melodies discloses that they were so crafted as to incorporate optimum features both of oratorical delivery in terms of accentuation and melodic contour, and of inherent meaning in terms of deployment of the period’s most advanced modal theory. It is thus her contention that
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