The Ages of Faith: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England and Western Europe

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Christianity in the later Middle Ages was flourishing, popular and vibrant and the institutional church was generally popular - in stark contrast to the picture of corruption and decline painted by the later Reformers which persists even today. Norman Tanner, the pre-eminent historian of the later medieval church, provides a rich and authoritative history of religion in this pivotal period. Despite signs of turbulence and demands for reform, he demonstrates that the church remained powerful, self-confident and deeply rooted. Weaving together key themes of religious history - the Christian roots of Europe; the crusades; the problematic question of the Inquisition; the relationship between the church and secular state; the central role of monasticism; and, the independence of the English church - The Ages of Faith is an impressive tribute to a lifetime's research into this subject. But to many readers the central fascination of The Ages of Faith will be its perceptive insights into popular and individual spiritual experience: sin, piety, penance, heresy, the role of the mystics and even 'making merry'. The Ages of Faith is a major contribution to the Reformation debate and offers a revealing vision of individual and popular religion in an important period so long obscured by the drama of the Reformation.