Unreliable Witnesses

Elisabeth Leedham-Green

in The Reception of Continental Reformation in Britain

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264683
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734878 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Unreliable Witnesses

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Innovation in print and the dissemination of reformation texts were as central to Protestant reform as biblical translation and the circulation of erudite Protestant scholarship in manuscript. The history of the book is an obvious starting point for understanding reformation reception and overlaps with reception studies by its concern with readership and the historical context of printed matter. This chapter explores the historical contingency of the sources available for quantifying the ownership of continental reformed texts, with particular emphasis on the universities in Britain. Probate inventories, anecdotal evidence, booksellers’ lists, and surviving books present different and often conflicting stories. The discrepancy between Cambridge and Oxford inventories, for instance, may have had more to do with the university appraisers than religious conservatism in Oxford.

Keywords: continental reformed texts; probate inventories; Cambridge; Oxford; religious conservatism; Protestant reform

Chapter.  5923 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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