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Heretics and Believers


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About the Author

Peter Marshall is professor of history at the University of Warwick, winner of the Harold J. Grimm Prize for Reformation History, and author of numerous books, including The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction. His book Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation was the winner of the 2018 Wolfson History Prize. He lives in Leamington Spa, UK.


"Peter Marshall has written a fine history of a momentous time as seen from the bottom up, drawing on a wide range of primary sources and his evident scholarship . . . a riveting account of the losers as well, the English zealots and cynics who wanted a better world, or an unchanging one."—Economist

"An eminently readable narrative that avoids flattening out irregularities in the story. . . . Marshall’s analysis, his control of documentary material and his imaginative maneuvers between the corridors of power and the streets and alehouses is impressive."—Malcolm Gaskill, Financial Times

“A balanced and judicious account of the English Reformation.”—Arnold Hunt, TLS


“A beautifully judged account of the English Reformation. Marshall weaves a single narrative through a contentious century without loss of detail or depth of understanding. Full of wise and humane analysis, this is ambitious in scope and brilliant in execution.”
—Wolfson Prize Judges

"With pleasing dispatch Peter Marshall’s compelling new history of England’s Reformation sweeps all the historians down into the footnotes and just tells the story as he sees it. . . . This is the human story within the grand narrative, written with fluidity and warmth, its scholarship providing a firm foundation without being intrusive, its analysis thoughtful, not polemical."—Lucy Wooding, Literary Review

"The joy of Peter Marshall’s book is that it makes this most hackneyed of historical epics feel fresh and unexpected. More so than any historian of the period working today, Marshall is equally sensitive and perceptive in dealing with both Protestants and Catholics. . . . It is a much-told tale, but I don’t think it has ever been told with more humanity, balance, atmosphere, wit and learning. I wish I’d written it. Buy it, and make time to read it."—Alec Ryrie, The Tablet

"Marshall has a knowledge of the personalities and the detail and texture of events which few living scholars can match. He makes masterly use of the enormous range of quotable texts to bring to life the dilemmas that his characters faced."—G.R. Evans, Church Times

"Marshall’s account of this seemingly well-worn topic never seems stale or perfunctory. There is a sense of real people being affected by real issues, the distant hubbub of which can still just about be heard in the pages of this insightful and immersive book.”—Mark Jones, Albion 

“A tour de force that transforms our understanding of, what Marshall himself terms, ‘one of the best-known and most widely discussed epochs in English history: the Reformation of the sixteenth century.”
—Henry Jeffries, Irish Historical Studies

“This is a superb narrative history of the English Reformation . . . If you want a book that tells the story in a powerful, effective way, held together with an excellent thesis and illustrative anecdotes, this will serve you well. I foresee that this will become a standard text for those who teach the English Reformation.”
—Norman Jones, Renaissance Quarterly

“Outstanding work. . . a grand, sweeping view of the Reformation’s impact in England, perhaps the first large scale revisiting of a people’s history approach to the religious upheaval of the Tudor period since Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars.”—Chris Skidmore, Books of the Year 2017, BBC History

“An outstanding study of one of the most eventful periods in English history. . . This is historical scholarship at its accessible best.”—Rev. Dr. Martin Wellings, Methodist Recorder

“The book contains a massive amount of detail, and it is well written” —Fiction’s Fan Book Reviews

“Heretics and Believers provides readers with a wonderful opportunity to expand their historical horizons. Peter Marshall does an excellent job in tracing the antecedents of the English Reformation, profiling key figures and institutions and tracing the chronological development of attempts at reform (and opposition to it).”—Philip Scheepers, Vox Reformata 

Peter Marshall has won The Wolfson History Prize 2018 for Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation.

“In a field crowded with exceptionally able histories, Heretics and Believers stands out as a treasure.”—Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction

"A magisterial, panoramic and compelling new account of a phenomenon that was never just a top-down, institutionalised and ordered act of state. Peter Marshall reveals how the English Reformation was nurtured within the religious beliefs, culture and polity that it profoundly transformed, and thereby recovers its momentousness."—Mark Greengrass, author of Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517–1648

"A commanding re-interpretation of a deeply significant process of change: analytically subtle, thematically all-encompassing, and full of real people."—Steven Gunn, author of Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England

"A remarkable book that will, without doubt, become the definitive narrative of the English Reformation for years to come. Marshall writes with deep understanding and great panache, moving us masterfully beyond tired debates about whether the Reformation was 'good' or 'bad' and bringing his subject vividly to life."—Christopher Marsh, author of Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England

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