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  Title: The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English village.

Author: Eamon Duffy

Date published: 2001

Status: in print

Price: GBP 16.95 (11.87 on Amazon)

What is it? The long awaited sequel and parallel text to The Stripping of the Altars - an intimate examination of the Reformation in a single Devon parish.

What's it like? The roads of Tudor Morebath were narrow, deeply banked and hedged in the Devon manner, poorly surfaced with soft slate, river gravel, and stones gathered from the fields, broken with fords and often awash with mud and water during the incessant winter rains drawn down upon the moor, impassable in hard weather. Even in modern times, during the winter of 1963 every road in Morebath filled to the heights of the hedges with layer upon layer of frozen snow. For weeks, the only way in and out of the village was across the higher fields, where driving wind had kept the snow from settling. In Tudor England's savage 'little Ice Age', the parish must often have been totally isolated. Even the hardy long-woolled sheep which were the mainstay of Tudor Morebath's economy were vulnerable to the inhospitable moorland winters of the sixteenth century. The annual sheep counts of the church flocks are punvtuated by reports of animals 'lost and gone', 'drownde', 'dede and gone wolle and all' or 'lost at crystmas'.

What's good about it? Duffy explores the period 1530-1580 through the churchwardens accounts, minute books, journals and bequests of the remote Devon village of Morebath. If you've already read his The Stripping of the Altars, this book is like a detective story, trying to answer a single, biting question: if the Reformation in England was so unpopular with the common people, why did it succeed? He comes up with what looks like it might be the answer.

What's bad about it? The opening chapters may be heavy going if you haven't already read The Stripping of the Altars.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

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