The Uses of History in Religious Controversies from Erasmus to Baronio: Introduction

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From the Reformation, church history presented a challenge to each confession in its own right. Protestants were compelled to invent particularly creative answers because, as Euan Cameron has noted, ‘the core message of the Reformation called for a shift in perceptions of the Christian past’. This is because Protestants, who aimed to revert to the pristine early state of the Church, were confronted with the key issue of explaining why error had entered the Church after apostolic times. The prevailing models for church history did not suit their view of the degeneration of the medieval Church, so that Protestant historians in the Reformation had to re-invent the discipline. Catholics, on the other hand, aimed to show that Church institutions and doctrine from apostolic times had always been the same. The special issue "The Uses of History in Religious Controversies from Erasmus to Baronio" explores this subject from a variety of innovative angles. It opens a new chapter in our understanding of the relationship between religious polemic and the uses of history in the Reformation era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalRenaissance Studies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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