100 books like Reformation Unbound

By Karl Gunther,

Here are 100 books that Reformation Unbound fans have personally recommended if you like Reformation Unbound. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners: Leiden and the foundations of Plymouth Plantation

John G. Turner Author Of They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty

From my list on the Mayflower Pilgrims and their beliefs, practices, and habits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about the often contentious role of religion in U.S. history, from modern evangelicals to nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints to the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In many history books these religious men and women function either as saints or sinners. Instead of resorting to caricatures, it’s worth taking the time to get to know people of the past in all the marvelous strangeness of their beliefs, practices, and habits. I am a professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

John's book list on the Mayflower Pilgrims and their beliefs, practices, and habits

John G. Turner Why did John love this book?

Bangs is the dean of Pilgrim history. Strangers and Pilgrims is a hard-to-find book these days, but if you want to go far deeper than most portraits of the Pilgrims do, it’s worth the search. Bangs focuses on the experience of the separatist Pilgrims in the Dutch city of Leiden (many of the Pilgrims went there around 1608, before traveling on the Mayflower in 1620) and shows how those years in the Dutch Republic shaped what followed. This is a richly illustrated, carefully researched, and cogent analysis of English separatists who made new lives for themselves in a strange land not just once, but twice.

By Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In this incredible work Jeremy Bangs rips away nearly four centuries of encrusted knowledge about the Pilgrims. Not content to rely on received knowledge about this separatist community, Bangs has spent a lifetime searching them out in archives--Dutch, English and American. The result is an extraordinary reassessment of these people. Never mincing works (Bangs is refreshingly direct), his scholarship is the starting line for any historian interested in the Pilgrim story or early American history writ large..." William M. Fowler, Professor of History, Northeastern University.


Book cover of The Puritans in the Diocese of Peterborough

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable

From my list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed my passion for the Reformation while studying History and Theology at Cambridge. Now, several years and a dozen books on 16th -17th-century history later, my obsession has not waned for what was the most formative period in the development, not only of our religious and political life, but also of our culture. I like to think that, through my books, journal articles, and lectures (and the occasional historical novel) I have made a useful contribution to our understanding of that culture.

Derek's book list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Derek Wilson Why did Derek love this book?

This excellent local history survey enables us to step back to the period immediately before the migration to the Netherlands to see the kind of life the future Pilgrims were leading in their home shires. The East Midlands had long been a home of religious radicalism. Some of the men and women destined to take the historical transatlantic journey grew up listening to Puritan preachers berate the clergy of the established church for not being sufficiently reformed. Under the microscope of Sheils' research, we can see the emergence of ever more extreme separatism and the emergence of groups of impatient, intolerant 'saints' meeting clandestinely and contemplating leaving their homeland in search of the perfect church.

Book cover of Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence: The Bishop of Brownism's Life, Writings, and Controversies

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable

From my list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed my passion for the Reformation while studying History and Theology at Cambridge. Now, several years and a dozen books on 16th -17th-century history later, my obsession has not waned for what was the most formative period in the development, not only of our religious and political life, but also of our culture. I like to think that, through my books, journal articles, and lectures (and the occasional historical novel) I have made a useful contribution to our understanding of that culture.

Derek's book list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Derek Wilson Why did Derek love this book?

This is the biography of one of the most disruptive figures in the separatist movement. It brings to life the turbulence of the life of the Netherlands settlers more vividly than generalisations about conditions in Amsterdam, and Leiden can do. Johnson was the most extreme and dogmatic of the English separatists. He led a congregation in London in the 1590s, was exiled, made an abortive attempt to set up his own colony in Nova Scotia, then joined the separatist community in Amsterdam. There he fell out with the established leadership and created a split in the English community. The vivid (perhaps 'lurid' would be a better word) story of a maverick so domineering that he could excommunicate his own father and brother reveal the destructive depths to which religious certainty could descend.

By Scott Culpepper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence is the first thorough treatment of Francis Johnson as the central focus of an academic work. Johnson (1562-1618) was the pastor of the English Separatist Ancient Church in London and Amsterdam from 1592-1618. Once referred to as the "Bishop of Brownism" by one of his contemporaries, Johnson's theological and practical influence on Christian traditions as diverse as the Baptists, Congregationalists, and English Independents demonstrated the wide breadth of English Separatism's formative influence.

Francis Johnson's quest to create a perfectly ordered, scriptural, Christian congregation led him to fiery debates with the most influential leaders…


Book cover of A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable

From my list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed my passion for the Reformation while studying History and Theology at Cambridge. Now, several years and a dozen books on 16th -17th-century history later, my obsession has not waned for what was the most formative period in the development, not only of our religious and political life, but also of our culture. I like to think that, through my books, journal articles, and lectures (and the occasional historical novel) I have made a useful contribution to our understanding of that culture.

Derek's book list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Derek Wilson Why did Derek love this book?

This book describes the colonising element which was the background to the final movement of the Pilgrims from Leiden to America. That move would not have taken place without (a) the pioneering attempts of Elizabethan adventurers to settle the North American seaboard, (b) the mercenary (and unscrupulous) determination of businessmen to exploit the land and people of the region, and (c) The desire of English monarchs to enhance their prestige and wealth. Horn tells in graphic detail the story of early troubled attempts to make a settlement at the mouth of the James River. By the time that the Pilgrims were seriously contemplating moving on from Leiden, the leaders of the Virginia Company were becoming desperate to recruit potential colonists. The result was a muddled, stop-go venture driven by mixed motives. As one of the Pilgrims exclaimed, 'If ever we make a plantation it will be because God works a…

By James Horn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Land As God Made It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although it was the first permanent English settlement in North America, Jamestown is too often overlooked in the writing of American history. Founded thirteen years before the Mayflower sailed, Jamestown's courageous settlers have been overshadowed ever since by the pilgrims of Plymouth. But as historian James Horn demonstrates in this vivid and meticulously researched account, Jamestown-not Plymouth-was the true crucible of American history. Jamestown introduced slavery into English-speaking North America; it became the first of England's colonies to adopt a representative government; and it was the site of the first white-Indian clashes over territorial expansion. As we approach the four-hundredth…


Book cover of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

Harriet Lyon Author Of Memory and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Early Modern England

From my list on the impact of the English Reformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Britain, with particular interests in the cultural and religious history of the English Reformation, as well as in the fields of historical memory and time. I enjoy pursuing these subjects not only through research and reading, but also teaching. I am currently the J. H. Plumb College Lecturer in History at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. 

Harriet's book list on the impact of the English Reformation

Harriet Lyon Why did Harriet love this book?

There have been many histories of the English Reformation, but Peter Marshall sets the standard in this engaging and profoundly human take on the religious changes of the sixteenth century. I admire the way in which he balances the sweeping story of the legislative Reformation with small details and anecdotes that really bring the period to life.

This book reminds us that the Reformation cannot be understood simply as an institutional transformation but also as a cultural phenomenon and that real lives and livelihoods were at stake in the process of religious change.

By Peter Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heretics and Believers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2018 WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall's sweeping new history-the first major overview for general readers in a generation-argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of "reform" in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora's Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.

With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall…


Book cover of Being Protestant in Reformation Britain

Harriet Lyon Author Of Memory and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Early Modern England

From my list on the impact of the English Reformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Britain, with particular interests in the cultural and religious history of the English Reformation, as well as in the fields of historical memory and time. I enjoy pursuing these subjects not only through research and reading, but also teaching. I am currently the J. H. Plumb College Lecturer in History at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. 

Harriet's book list on the impact of the English Reformation

Harriet Lyon Why did Harriet love this book?

For all the books about the Protestant Reformation, very few stop to consider what it meant to be Protestant – how it felt, or what daily life was really like. Alec Ryrie tackles these questions both with empathy and analytical rigour, exploring the struggles and triumphs of individuals seeking to live godly lives against a background of ongoing religious change.

This book really foregrounds "ordinary" people and, in doing so, highlights the extraordinary quality of the everyday. It helped me to reach a better understanding of Protestantism as a dynamic and sometimes contradictory movement, and of its emotional resonance for those who embraced the reformed faith.

By Alec Ryrie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Being Protestant in Reformation Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Reformation was about ideas and power, but it was also about real human lives. Alec Ryrie provides the first comprehensive account of what it actually meant to live a Protestant life in England and Scotland between 1530 and 1640, drawing on a rich mixture of contemporary devotional works, sermons, diaries, biographies, and autobiographies to uncover the lived experience of early modern Protestantism.

Beginning from the surprisingly urgent, multifaceted emotions of Protestantism, Ryrie explores practices of prayer, of family and public worship, and of reading and writing, tracking them through the life course from childhood through conversion and vocation to…


Book cover of The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Peter Marshall Author Of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

From my list on the English Reformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, co-editor of the English Historical Review, and the author of nine books and over sixty articles on the religious and cultural history of early modern Europe. His authoritative account of the Reformation in England, Heretics and Believers, was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 2018. Peter is a native of the Orkney Islands, and currently writing a book on the islanders’ experiences in the Reformation era.

Peter's book list on the English Reformation

Peter Marshall Why did Peter love this book?

Eamon Duffy’s justly acclaimed ‘microhistory’ transports us away from the world of bishops, parliament and the court in order to track, across four crucial decades, the experiences of a tiny village on the edge of Exmoor in Devon, based on meticulous recordings in the ‘church book’ by the long-serving parish priest. It is a story in miniature of the tragically destructive aspects of the Reformation, but also an uplifting one in its depiction of the capacity of ordinary people to survive and adapt.

By Eamon Duffy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Voices of Morebath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fifty years between 1530 and 1580, England moved from being one of the most lavishly Catholic countries in Europe to being a Protestant nation, a land of whitewashed churches and antipapal preaching. What was the impact of this religious change in the countryside? And how did country people feel about the revolutionary upheavals that transformed their mental and material worlds under Henry VIII and his three children?

In this book a reformation historian takes us inside the mind and heart of Morebath, a remote and tiny sheep farming village on the southern edge of Exmoor. The bulk of…


Book cover of The Irish Church and the Tudor Reformations

Crawford Gribben Author Of The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland

From my list on Christianity in Ireland.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like anyone else who takes an interest in Ireland, I’ve been fascinated by the long and often very difficult history of the island’s experience of religion. Where I live, in county Antrim, religious imagery appears everywhere – in churches and schools, obviously, but also on signboards posted onto trees, and in the colourful rags that are still hung up to decorate holy wells. This book is the fruit of twenty years of thinking about Christian Ireland - its long and difficult history, and its sudden and difficult collapse.

Crawford's book list on Christianity in Ireland

Crawford Gribben Why did Crawford love this book?

Since the later sixteenth century, historians have been trying to explain why the Irish refused to follow their political leaders into the newly established protestant church. Jefferies’s book highlights the scale of the problem – showing that by the turn of the seventeenth century, seventy years after the beginnings of protestant reform, the number of native Irish converts amounted to little more than one hundred. Pushing against the triumphalism that marked an older way of writing the history of the reformation, Jefferies demonstrates the popularity of the late medieval church and argues that historians should reframe their research questions.

It might be less important to ask why the protestant reformation failed, he suggests, and more important to ask why – despite everything – the Catholic church remained so popular.

By Henry A. Jefferies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Irish Church and the Tudor Reformations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This important book examines Ireland's experiences of the Tudor reformations. Part I shows that the Irish Church, far from being in decline, enjoyed an upsurge in lay support before Henry VIII's reformation. Part II shows how the early Tudor reformations failed to address the pre-existing weaknesses of the Irish Church, while Cardinal Pole's program for Catholic restoration in Mary's reign did not enjoy the time needed to do so. Instead, the problems of the Irish Church were exacerbated as Tudor policy in Ireland became increasingly militarist and expansionist. Under Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth, the English crown was able…


Book cover of John Knox

Andrew Greig Author Of Rose Nicolson: Memoir of William Fowler of Edinburgh

From my list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in rural Bannockburn in Scotland, two fields from the site of the famous Battle (a rare victory over England) of 1314. From the start, the Past has always been very present to me. I have written 22 books: novels, non-fiction memoir, and poetry. In differing ways they all explore aspects of Scotland and being Scottish – our landscape, geology, history, culture, and psyche. I was brought up in East Fife, near St Andrews, and live in Edinburgh and Orkney; my mother was English, as is my wife, novelist Lesley Glaister. Which is by way of saying I am interested in writing the joys, aches, and complexities of being human, in the universal and the local, in our present and the Past that shapes it.

Andrew's book list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands

Andrew Greig Why did Andrew love this book?

So it is not a novel, but might as well be for its twists, turns, and transformations. Edinburgh in 1572 was a small town of some 3,000 families, so my real-life narrator William Fowler would know and meet one of its most notable citizens, Preacher John Knox of Haddington, along with his young and socially aristocratic second wife (the latter attribute was more a matter of gossip and criticism than the thirty-seven years age gap), and witnessed him being helped up into the pulpit at St Giles to give his congregation a last good talking to. This is the most recent (drawing on a major new cache of letters), and highly readable, life of the man who pushed Scotland towards a Presbyterian Calvinist form of Protestantism – crucially distinct from that evolving in England under the Auld Hag aka Elizabeth I. He is revealed as a much more complex and…

By Jane Dawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked John Knox as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive biography of John Knox, a leader of the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Scotland

"Never before has there been such a thoroughly and sympathetically critical treatment of the 16th-century Scottish reformer's thought and times. . . . A joy to read and a book to value."-Sean Michael Lucas, Gospel Coalition

Based in large part on previously unavailable sources, including the recently discovered papers of John Knox's close friend and colleague Christopher Goodman, this biography challenges the traditionally held stereotype of the founder of the Presbyterian denomination as a strident and misogynist religious reformer whose influence rarely extended beyond Scotland.…


Book cover of Monks, Miracles and Magic: Reformation Representations of the Medieval Church

Harriet Lyon Author Of Memory and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Early Modern England

From my list on the impact of the English Reformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Britain, with particular interests in the cultural and religious history of the English Reformation, as well as in the fields of historical memory and time. I enjoy pursuing these subjects not only through research and reading, but also teaching. I am currently the J. H. Plumb College Lecturer in History at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. 

Harriet's book list on the impact of the English Reformation

Harriet Lyon Why did Harriet love this book?

This book explores post-Reformation attitudes to the medieval past, which was continuously debated and rewritten according to the shifting religious landscape of the sixteenth century and beyond.

Helen Parish’s work helped me to see the merits and benefits of crossing the rather arbitrary divide between the medieval and early modern periods, since it so deftly places medieval and Reformation sources in dialogue.

Her book also makes fascinating reading for anyone wanting to better understand reformed Protestantism as a culture of adaptation and accommodation, as much as of destruction and the outright rejection of the Catholic past. 

By Helen L. Parish,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monks, Miracles and Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Helen L. Parish presents an innovative new study of Reformation attitudes to medieval Christianity, revealing the process by which the medieval past was rewritten by Reformation propagandists. This fascinating account sheds light on how the myths and legends of the middle ages were reconstructed, reinterpreted, and formed into a historical base for the Protestant church in the sixteenth century.

Crossing the often artificial boundary between medieval and modern history, Parish draws upon a valuable selection of writings on the lives of the saints from both periods, and addresses ongoing debates over the relationship between religion and the supernatural in early…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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