Casgliad o naw astudiaeth sy'n ceisio cymharu'r tebygrwydd a'r gwahaniaethau yn ymatebion trigolion Lloegr, Iwerddon, yr Alban a Chymru i ddylanwadau'r Diwygiad Protestannaidd ar eu bywydau, gyda nodiadau manwl. 5 llun du-a-gwyn.
A collection of nine studies which seek to compare the similarities and differences in the reactions of the inhabitants of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to the influences of the Protestant Reformation on their lives, with detailed notes. 5 black-and-white illustrations.
Ian Hazlett, who is a Reader in Church History at the University of Glasgow, has produced a highly informative, densely packed, closely written account of the history of the Reformation in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, which is something very much more than a straightforward account of the events and movements that we think of as the Reformation. His work is also in part an exercise in historiography, recounting the different interpretations that have been given of the meaning and significance of the transformation of religious life in the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
For the greater part of this period Catholics and Protestants, Presbyterians and Episcopalians alike shared the conviction that for each national state there should be one religion, eius regio, eius religio, and it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that the notion that the state could tolerate different religions within its borders began to become acceptable. Hazlett traces the confrontations between the parties competing for dominance in the four countries that make up the British Isles, showing how different were their fortunes. Here it is interesting to contrast the resilience of Catholicism in Ireland with its near elimination in Scotland.
Hazlett takes the central and dominant consideration in the emergence of Protestantism to have been religious and theological. It was about justification - what is it that commends the individual to God and what is it that secures his (or her) salvation? For the Protestant of this period, whether Lutheran or Calvinist, justification is by faith. Hazlett does not deny that many were persuaded to support the cause by non-religious considerations, political, economic or financial. There were changes in belief, creed and liturgy, changes in the organization of worship and in the governance of the church, and changes in the focus of loyalty, the replacement of the Pope by the political sovereign as head of the church, but the driving force for them all was religious conviction, that placed the individual conscience of the individual as the heart of matters. Hazlett admits that many were consoled for the loss of the traditional features of the old faith by monetary gain (as in the redistribution of monastic lands), but he stoutly resists reductionist claims that the dominating motivations were other than religious. The term 'reform', especially among those who welcome it, has honorific overtones, but there is scope for wondering whether all sections of society approved of it, and Hazlett is very much alive to the likelihood that not all classes were enthusiastic for change, either where they were likely to lose by it or had no reason to welcome it. This was particularly true where reform became intertwined with political changes and Protestantism became identified with domination by the English.
The concept of reform is often linked with the removal or correction of abuse and therefore to accept the term 'Reformation' for the religious movement that dominated the sixteenth century is to accept the imputation that what the Reformation was designed to change was failing because it was inefficient, degenerate or corrupt. The question naturally arises whether the movement we label The Reformation deserves the honorific title we give it, and whether the condition of Christianity that preceded it deserves by implication to be criticized pejoratively. Although the Reformation was designed, it is alleged, to purify religious practices, it may well be asked whether the movement contributed to the secularization of society, not least by placing the political sovereign as head of the national church and by diverting attention from monastic ideals and practices to the fulfillment of more this worldly and utilitarian goals through public institutions. To questions such as these and many others, Hazlett has produced a work capable in itself of setting the reader on an engaging quest and of directing his attention to further study by the means of a well stacked bibliography.
D. O. Thomas
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.