chapter  6
The Reformation and the people
Pages 33

In the twentieth century, and particularly since 1960, the English Reformation has become prey to the new history. Historians, exhibiting their acquaintance with the methodologies of psychohistory, sociology, anthropology, demography, linguistics and economics have determined to write histoire totaZe. For this reason, it is often difficult to determine what are works of, strictly speaking, Reformation history at all and what are works of purely secular significance. Of course, the longstanding, if easily challenged, view that the Reformation was but the religious aspect of the Renaissance movement has always stressed the necessity for the religious historian to examine the Reformation in its context. That sixteenth-century intellectual life was imbued with religion is now a truism: every school student knows that God could not be left out of politics; that the clergy dominated education; that moral discipline was administered by the church courts; that the family was itself a 'church'. But now something has been added - an awareness that religion itself has a sociological, a psychological and an economic dimension. Concepts such as 'social control', 'professionalization', 'social mobility', 'class warfare', 'bureaucratization', 'capitalism', 'proto-industrialization' are bandied about. The historians, products of an age which if not anti-religious is

certainly a-religious, approach the history of the Reformation in a less credulous spirit than did their predecessors. Indeed, some regard with incredulity any suggestion that 'man' could possibly have a pure, unmixed belief in the godhead; surely his economic interests, his upbringing, his ambition must have been the motivating force in his life? Marx, Weber, Freud - their ghosts stalk the land of the new Reformation history. The theories as well as the techniques of other disciplines are used.