May 5, 2012
The Voices of Morebath is a book by Eamon Duffy about the small parish of Morebath in England during the time of the Reformation. His book is a microhistory, focusing solely on a very small and specific area in time and space. This book, like all microhistories, seeks to help the reader understand a larger area of history by showing a great amount of detail about one specific area. It helps the reader come to terms with normal daily life, and gives a more personable feeling to the history rather than cold faceless facts and statistics. In this essay I will explain first the basic everyday life of Morebath and its inhabitants. I will then look into how specifically this parish evolved during the Reformation. Afterwards I will compare the findings in Morebath against some of the more general things we have learned in class, and also will point out some of my own conclusions about the Reformation that I can draw from this microhistory. Morebath was a quaint parish in Eastern England. The book The Voices of Morebath covers many day to day events that occurred between the years of 1520-1574. Duffy goes to great lengths to paint a picture of the community. A recurring theme during this tale is one of piety. According to Duffy there was: “…no rigid distinction was drawn between the community at prayer and the community as it went about its business” Religion pervaded every nook and cranny of the parishioners lives. He offers up more evidence by explaining that in one instance the chalice used in the Eucharist was stolen and the young men and women of the parish all pitched in and bought a new one in order to carry on the ritual. Despite all of this evidence, Duffy does take a moment to reflect that this piety may have actually been, for some, merely a show in order to fit in with the rest of the community. Some may have been acting religious just to not be shunned and cast out from the community. After establishing the...
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