List of Books

TalkReformation Era: History and Literature

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List of Books

Edited: Nov 20, 11:00 pm

*The Praise of Folly and Other Writings, Erasmus (Norton) (1509)
The Prince, Machiavelli (Norton)(1513)
Utopia, More (Norton) (1516)
*To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther (8/1520) (Annotated Luther)
*The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther (10/1520) (Annotated Luther)
*The Freedom of a Christian, Luther (11/1520)
*The Bondage of the Will, Luther (1525) (Annotated Luther)
Book of the Courtier, Castiglione (1528)
Obedience of the Christian Man, Tyndale (1528)
Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli (1531)
Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais (1533-34)
Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536 edition Calvin, trans. Battles (Eerdman’s)
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, de las Casas (1542)
Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (1540’s)
Book of Common Prayer, the Texts of 1549, 1559, 1662, (Oxford World Classics)
Lazarillo de Tormes, in Two Spanish Picaresque Novels (1554)
The Heptameron, de Navarre (1558)
Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin, (1559 edition) trans. Beveridge (Hendrickson)
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563) (Hendrickson Christian Classics)
The Siege of Malta 1565, di Correggio (1568)
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Golding transl. (1567) (Paul Dry Books)
The Lusiads, Camoes (1572)
Life of St. Teresa of Avila by Herself (1567)
Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross (1578-79)
Complete Essays, Montaigne, (1570’s)
Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, Sidney (1590?)
Tamburlaine in Dr. Faustus & Other Plays, Marlowe (1590)
Elizabeth I: Collected Works (added 1/16/22)
The Faerie Queene, Spenser (1590)
The Spanish Tragedy, Kyd, in Four Revenge Tragedies (1592)
Shakespeare’s Henriad - Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, Henry V, (partly because I’m interested in those kings) (1590’s)
Essays, Bacon (1597-1625)

*Christianity in the West 1400-1700, Bossy
*The Reformation: A History, MacCulloch
Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559, Rice
Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation, Marshall
Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, Eire
Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village, Duffy
The Wars of Religion in France 1559-1576, Thompson
The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Braudel
The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, Duffy
The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy, Wilson (added 1/1/22)
Elizabeth I and Her Age, (Norton) (added 1/16/22)

*Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet, Roper
Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life, MacCulloch
William Tyndale, Daniell
Thomas Cranmer, MacCulloch
Thomas More: A Biography, Marius (added 12/5/21)
Elizabeth I, Somerset (added 1/16/22)
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years, Guy (added 9/28/23)

***Tyndale’s New Testament (facsimile ed.: Hendrickson - not modern spelling ed.: Yale) (1526)
*The Geneva Bible, (facsimile ed.: Hendrickson) (1560)
The Sidney Psalter, Philip and Mary Sydney (Oxford World Classics)(1570’s - 1590’s)(?)
*“The Coverdale Psalter”, in The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 (Oxford World Classics) (1535, 1662)
The Holy Bible: 1611 edition, King James Version, (facsimile ed.: Hendrickson)

Critiques and suggestions welcome.

Most of the literature I took from an article or timeline on the 16th Century in Literature on Wikipedia. History and biography is from various sources. (

“*” indicates I’ve read it.

Nov 30, 2021, 10:44 am

That's a lot of reading!

Perhaps I could mention Thomas More and Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death by Richard Marius. While the world-view of Marius was much different than my own, and I think that his Luther book is flawed, I 'm glad I read both of these. He was an eminent Reformation scholar and could write very well.

Edited: Nov 30, 2021, 2:57 pm

Thanks, cpg! I’ll take a look at some reviews and see if I can find anything on the author.

If you have more to say, feel free to comment any time.

P.S. - Also, I would definitely like to hear more about how your world view differs from Marius’. That is, if you feel comfortable.

Dec 1, 2021, 1:16 pm

>3 geoffreymeadows:

Oh, it's just that I'm a believer, and Marius was a disbeliever. But a disbeliever who could write! For example, in his first Luther biography, Marius wrote:

"Did Christ himself rise from the dead and ascend into heaven? . . . We may answer yes . . . when we nod by the fire on a snowy evening and the wind sings its song in the chimney and the world beyond our windows lies shut away in the magic isolation of a cold and dark that do not quite touch us. But in the heat of open day, we know as surely as we know anything about the past that whoever Jesus was, his bones lie rotting or else are already dust in a grave long since forgotten." (pp. 251-2).

Edited: Dec 1, 2021, 10:44 pm

>4 cpg:

I’m glad you’re a believer, cpg. That’s the best, really. As for myself, like Marius, I’m not sure exactly what to do with the Resurrection. I guess I’m kind of an agnostic about it.

As I read Paul, I think it’s obvious we are supposed to believe in a physical resurrection. I just find that hard to maintain totally.

One wonders how different it may have been for Europeans living in the 1500’s. What I just said in the above paragraphs might have led to my persecution or even execution at that time. Or, if you were a believer but felt differently about certain truths in the Bible from some other group, you could have been executed, too. I think it would be good for people of all stripes to contemplate that. We don’t have unity now, but we do still have the possibility for understanding.

So, if you want to say more about this, feel free. You seem to me to be a very careful person, in your posts. That’s a good thing. It means you’re not upsetting someone else. But I’m so anxious, maybe too anxious, to start this ‘conversation’. I think it might be good for me to learn something from you.

Dec 3, 2021, 10:40 am

As a further example of the glorious way that Marius wrote, here's the last paragraph or so of his Thomas More:

"Thomas More belongs to no company of icons to be set glittering in the inaccessible reaches of our imaginations as in the gold mosaic of a wall. He was nearer to us, flesh and blood, and in him the good and the bad were always at war. Calculation dueled with spontaneity, humility with pride, love with hate. These conflicts went tumultuously on almost to the very end beneath the calm exterior that he kept toward the world, and an honest biographer cannot truly say that More's virtues were always stronger than his vices, or that his vices were insignificant, or that his goodness as he himself might have defined it was always admirable. Yet biographers have always felt themselves compelled to draw lessons from his life. Perhaps for us the habitual waging of such a hard, inner warfare in Thomas More is lesson enough for our season. For it may be that only those who patiently struggle without victory in such lifelong conflicts within themselves are worthy to be called saints."

Edited: Nov 7, 5:30 am

Wow, cpg, that’s something else! Looks like if I read a biography of More, it will be Marius’. “… lesson enough for our season.” Incredible!

Dec 6, 2021, 2:04 pm

So.. are you interested in more recommendations? (she said eyeing her "Tudors and related" bookcases behind her desk) :)

Dec 6, 2021, 8:59 pm

Sure, what Tudor books are the best to read? I’ve only read The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Weir. And what do you think of Weir? Do you think she is rigorous enough?

Edited: Dec 6, 2021, 9:09 pm

>6 cpg:
Just wanted to add a thank you to cpg for sharing. What you shared shows that history does not have to be just a collection of facts about the past, but it can itself be a form of wisdom. Thanks again!

Dec 6, 2021, 9:42 pm

>9 geoffreymeadows: That's like asking "what is the best book to read on the history of the world" :)

Considering your stated focus:
Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (Duffy again - the guy kinda wrote the books on the Reformation) - it is important part of the history of the Reformation being the only time it almost failed in England.
Elizabeth and the English Reformation: The Struggle for a Stable Settlement of Religion (Hauggard) - and the dealing with the fallout from Mary's shenanigans.
The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church (Bernard) is very readable and has some interesting ideas.
Reform and Reformation: England, 1509-1558 (Elton) - probably not too much new information because everyone and their aunt quotes him but Tudor list without Elton is just wrong :)

The two Tudor volumes in the Oxford history of England series (Black and Mackie) are academic but I find them fascinating.

If you want a pure and complete Tudors overview: England Under the Tudors (Elton) is still to be surpassed (can be a bit dry in places)

You probably want a few more titles on European (non-English) history - including the Holy Roman Empire and the Popes - because the Reformation in England is not a distinct event. Really depends on just how far you want to go down that rabbit hole.

And you need a very solid Henry VIII history - not just the king but everyone around him - More, Cranmer, Cromwell, Wolsey. I do not see a biography for the last one so Wolsey: The Life of King Henry VIII's Cardinal (Matusiak) is probably the best of the new ones. Add Thomas Wolsey, Late Cardinal: His Life and Death Written by George Cavendish His Gentleman Usher for a contemporary view (I'd actually grab Two Early Tudor Lives: The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey by George Cavendish; The Life of Sir Thomas More by William Roper so you get both if I were you :)

Weir... she is extremely readable. Depending on what side of some debates you are on, you my find her a bit... shallow on some topics. I would still recommend all of her non-fiction as one of the better introductions to the Tudors. I find Queen Elizabeth I (Neale) and Elizabeth I (Anne Somerset) to be better at some thing that Weir in terms of Elizabeth I but any of the three biographies work. Add Elizabeth I and Her Age (Norton Critical edition) and Elizabeth I: Collected Works and you are all set about her.

I'd actually strongly recommend to double up on all biographies if you are planning to spend that much time in the era - one historian will never give you all the arguments you need.

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (Ives) adds important parts to the story (most of the Boleyn bios out there are weird; Ives is worth checking). His The Reformation Experience: Living Through The Turbulent 16Th Century is one of the very little number of accounts that actually looks at someone besides the big names (of which there are admittedly many),

Edward VI is also important for the Reformation (overlooked because of his age but without some of what he and his regents did, Mary would have caused a lot more harm. The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (MacCulloch) is probably the best account. The whole Jane Grey saga was an attempt to keep the Reformation alive. If you want to go in that direction Ives (Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery ) is your best bet.

Besides that - depends on which rabbit hole you want to go to next :)

Edited: Dec 6, 2021, 10:26 pm

>11 AnnieMod:
With all the books on my list, especially all the literature I want to go with, it’s beginning to look like a pretty deep rabbit hole! But that’s the beauty of it. I have your suggestions on record now, AnnieMod, so I can refer to them over and over again.

I needed some help especially with Elizabeth I’s biography; and I’m glad you liked The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, because I was already looking at it. I need more women in this study!

Have you read Edward VI’s Diary? I want to read it sometime, but it’s too expensive to buy right now.

Thanks also for the tip to read Elton. I had not heard of him yet!

Edited: Dec 6, 2021, 11:13 pm

>12 geoffreymeadows: Not yet - Edward VI is somewhat peripheral to what I usually tend to read about so I tend to ignore most books about him until I get in the mood for them. If I do, will let you know.

Elizabeth the Great (Jenkins) is another option but there is very little about Reformation-related stuff in this one as far as I remember so... I left it out from the previous post.

And you don't know how a rabbit hole around the Tudors even look like until you end up opening things like Proceedings in the Parliaments of Elizabeth I and a few Calendar of State Papers and other things like that while reading an article. Thankfully your interest is the Reformation and not parliamentary history... :)

Elton rewrote the history of the Tudors. The whole idea that Thomas Cromwell is a stateman and not just a "yes" man and a nobody kinda originated with Elton (okey - not that strong maybe but if you read anything from the beginning of the century, Cromwell was considered an unimportant part Henry's attendants - it should tell you something that the first modern biography of Cromwell did not come out until 1975 (The Cardinal and the Secretary: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell - recommended by the way and Neville Williams in general). Elton's Reform and Renewal, Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal essentially turned the Tudor studies on their head in the 50s and changed the idea of how Cromwell fit into the period and in the Reformation in general. Not all of it is still standing, some of the new kids on the block are challenging some of the ideas but they all read Elton and cited him and can disagree with him because they were made to look at it. J. E. Neale who I mentioned above for Elizabeth was Elton's supervisor at the time when the research was coming out (so some of his later work is informed by it).

A few more recommendations : if you have a chance, grab The Tudor Constitution , second Edition- it is a collection of commentaries and source documents which are very helpful if you are going deep into the period (and sounds like you are).

A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and his daughter Meg (John Guy) - the author is one of the good Tudor historians missing from your list. His Tudor England is the second good overview after Elton's. Anything by him is worth reading IMO. Bridgen's New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 is also good although for her, you may be more interested in London and the Reformation which gives a bit of a different perspective to your topic (just as with Ives, Elton and Guy, I tend to at least appreciate anything she had ever published).

A few more historians to explore: David Loades, David Starkey, Christopher Haigh (whose specialty is the Reformation), Susan Doran (Elizabeth I), Stanley Bindoff (although he is on the political side), Joanna Denny (for Boleyn and Katherine Howard if you want second books there) and Lacey Baldwin Smith.

One with a warning Albert Pollard - he was working at the same time as Neale and I prefer Neale in general - both can read very dated in some regards sometimes, Pollard much more) but if you go for academic books, people will cite him (mainly to disagree with him). So I found it a good idea to read some of his books. A lot of the heavier volumes are partially telling you the story and partially explaining why Pollard, Neale and these days Elton were wrong. I don't know how much you want to go down that rabbit whole but... I'll put it here just in case.

:) I can go on and on and on and on...

PS: Disclaimer - all that is personal research/opinion. I don't have a history education in any way or form - I just fell deep into the Tudors rabbit hole a decade and a half ago and still trying to get out of it :) Meanwhile - I just enjoy exploring.

Dec 7, 2021, 2:24 pm

>13 AnnieMod:
It may be just a rabbit hole, AnnieMod, but it’s a glorious one. Thanks for sharing!

Dec 7, 2021, 9:38 pm

>14 geoffreymeadows: Of course it is. :) I will be popping in occasionally to see what you are reading - may even decide to join you at some point - I like this specific rabbit hole as well ;)

Edited: Dec 9, 2021, 11:26 pm

>15 AnnieMod:
That’s great! Right now I’m reading -

The Praise of Folly and Other Writings, Erasmus (Norton Critical Edition - because it has several of his writings); I’m re-reading the 88-page The Praise of Folly to see what else I can get out of it, and

The Reformation: A History, MacCulloch, I’m about a third of the way through this one, about p. 275. This book has a lot of detail.

Jan 6, 2022, 10:16 pm

>12 geoffreymeadows: In case you want to read it, Edward's diary had been reprinted under the title "Edward VI's Chronicle" (the kindle version is - the rest are linked) recently and that ones does not cost an arm and a leg. I actually got the original publication (the Diary) from ILL and have a few pages left and will be posting a review after that but figured I should mention that as well.

Jan 8, 2022, 4:08 pm

>17 AnnieMod:
AnnieMod, if it’s okay with you, please link your review here. I’d like to read it and have access to it. Thanks!

Jan 10, 2022, 12:54 pm

>18 geoffreymeadows: Sure:
The diary review: - there is a link at the bottom to a publicly available version of the diary (much harder to read than the North edition (As it is not modernized) but it is there if you want to read it.

And in case you are interested: Skidmore's Edward VI biography review:

Edited: Jan 11, 2022, 3:29 pm

Good reviews, AnnieMod. Thanks for the links!

Looks like the online book is the one I’d be interested in. I like the old spellings!

Jan 11, 2022, 4:21 pm

>20 geoffreymeadows: Me too - but the other one read a lot easier, I'd tell you that.

You may also be interested in the rest of that online book by the way - there are other Reformation related things in there (a lot of his essays/tracts are on religious topics and some of his political ones are important in that regard as well). The first volume is here: (the diary is in the second volume).

Some parts of them are fascinating :) Have fun!

Jan 13, 2022, 6:59 am

Do you guys know any good books on John Calvin, especially his time spent in Geneva?

Edited: Mar 13, 10:22 pm

>22 Parousia519:
I’m sorry, Parousia519. We’re just getting this study off the ground, and I’ve only read a handful of books on the Reformation Era, so far. Eventually, I hope to be able to answer questions like yours.

On the other hand, I googled “Calvin biography review” and found a variety of reviews of biographies of him. Reading the reviews may be time-consuming, but it does turn up clues. One review listed (supposedly) the top three biographies of Calvin, including one of them called, “Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation” by Ronald Wallace, which sounded hopeful to me. I’ve included a link to this review at the end of this post. It’s not long.

For more, you might also try asking the “Christianity” discussion here on LT. It’s likely they have someone who has read a variety of books on John Calvin. I know that doesn’t help much, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

Edited: Sep 13, 12:58 pm

>22 Parousia519:
Just discovered this author, Parousia519. I haven’t read any of his books yet, but he seems to have written biographies of many of the major associates of Calvin, some of them important to the Swiss Reformation and Geneva. He also wrote a general history of the Swiss Reformation.

Here’s a list of those books. I don’t know if you are still interested in this line of study; it’s been a while since you posted your question here.

The Swiss Reformation, (New Frontiers in History series), by F. Bruce Gordon
Calvin, by F. Bruce Gordon
Zwingli: God’s Armed Prophet, by F. Bruce Gordon
Architect of Reformation: An Introduction to Heinrich Bullinger, by F. Bruce Gordon
John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography, (Lives of Great Religious Books), by Bruce Gordon

I don’t know how good he is, but he looks like a major author on the subject.

Also, if you’re a Bible reader, I highly recommend The Geneva Bible, the first complete Bible translated from the original Greek and Hebrew into the English language and published in 1560 (translated, of course, in Geneva). It’s a facsimile copy of the original, which means it’s exactly the same as what the original readers saw when the book was first published. There are a few quirks to get used to, but it’s definitely readable. It took me about 2 and a half years and I only have one more New Testament book to go to finish; but I took detours into early Psalters of the sixteenth century and read the New Testament by William Tyndale (1526) in tandem with the Geneva Bible New Testament, side by side. There are lots of notes in the Geneva Bible, but I didn’t get that much out of the notes. Mainly, it’s the text of the Geneva Bible that makes it interesting.

There’s an article on the Geneva Bible by David Daniell (Tyndale’s biographer) defending its place in history as one of the truly great English Bibles. Unfortunately, it seems the article’s no longer available online. I believe it was called “The Geneva English Bible: The Shocking Truth,” if you happen to come across it.

Also, if you’re into theology, there are some books in the Library of Christian Classics put out by Westminster John Knox Press that cover writings by Calvin and by Zwingli and Bullinger - not sure if they were always in Geneva, though - and some of Calvin’s writings.

I’ve purchased for this study 2 versions of Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin. The first was published in 1536, and the second, which was much expanded, and best represented Calvin’s final thoughts on the subject, was published in 1559. The 1536 edition was newly published by Eerdman’s and translated by Ford Lewis Battles. The 1559 edition (I have) was newly published by Hendrickson and translated by Henry Beveridge. The 1559 edition is the definitive edition, but it’s a thousand and one pages. The attraction of the 1536 edition is that it shows the development of Calvin’s thought. It is shorter, though, at 377 pages.

Good luck in your studies, Parousia519.