Jan Machielsen’s book is ostensibly the first modern biography of the Jesuit scholar Martin Delrio (1551–1608), a man best known today as the author of the treatise on witchcraft Disquisitiones magicae (‘Investigations into magic’). However, to call this important book a biography does it an injustice, since it is so much more than this.
Reviewing this book is a challenge. The ‘handbook’ genre falls somewhere between that of an encyclopedia and that of the textbook but without the overall coverage, both of topics and details, of the former nor the communications-driven ‘narrative arc’ of the latter.
If Jeanne d’Arc had stuck to embroidery under her mother’s petticoats, then Charles VII would have been overthrown and the war would have ended. The Plantagenets would have reigned over England and France, which would have formed one territory, as it did in prehistoric times before the Channel existed, populated by one race.(1)
The writings of John Wyclif (c.1330–84) do not make for easy reading.
As Hugh Thomas points out in his introduction to The Secular Clergy in England, the secular clergy of medieval England are an unjustly neglected group.
As Anna Bayman notes in her excellent new monograph, ‘[a] book about Thomas Dekker could [...] be a book about almost anything’ (p. 3). Tackling this prolific and somewhat elusive writer brings with it a host of difficulties. Dekker’s writings are generically and formally diverse, embedded within the political and moral concerns of early modern London.
The past two decades have seen a flourishing of scholarship devoted to female Catholic piety in early modern Europe, which has helped to balance the substantial historiography on women and the Protestant Reformation.
Have pity upon poor Andrew Melville. Once he was a towering figure in Presbyterian Scotland, John Knox’s successor as a leader of men, chastiser of proud monarchy and preacher of the truth. A student at St Andrews at the time of the Scottish Reformation, Melville spent a decade studying and teaching in France and Geneva.
In a time of prolific and revolutionary authors Hugh of Saint Victor lit up the 12th century with a particularly unique voice, combining an intense passion for teaching with a pragmatic and systematic mind. Out of his large body of work his Mystic Ark has always provided more questions than answers.
As Ferngren explains in the opening pages: ‘My purpose in this volume is to provide a concise but comprehensive survey that traces the history of the intersection of medicine and healing with religious traditions in the Western world from the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt to our own era’; a sizeable task to say the least.