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Greetings,

Here is my first critical review for HIEU 913 Comprehensive Examination and Readings in Early Modern Europe,

Pettegree, Andrew. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. Cambridge : New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Andrew Pettegree is professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews, as well as the founding director of St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute and he is considered one of the pre-eminent Reformation scholars in Europe.[1] Furthermore, he is the director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue Project, https://www.ustc.ac.uk/,[2] and is the editor of The Early Reformation in Europe and The Reformation World.[3]

Pettegree, during his study of the Reformation, specialized in four participating countries, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the two kingdoms of Britain, Scotland, and England. In his book, Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion, he stated, to understand the Reformation as a movement, there needs to be an understanding of how folks, individuals / communities, were persuaded, i.e. “moved” to give up their century’s old pious dogma, change their worldview, and follow the new rebel Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Professor Pettegree, asked basic straight-forward questions: “Why did people choose the Reformation? What was it in the evangelical teaching that excited, moved or persuaded them? How, and by what process, did people arrive at the new understandings that prompted a change of allegiance, and embedded them in their new faith?”[4] He indicated, the religious metamorphosis of the Reformation’s first-generation did not happen rapidly. It was a slow, painful process full of “difficult choices and life-changing decisions” such as who to trust, the existing Empire or break away and follow the “modernized” Reformation leaders?[5]

Dr. Pettegree largely used secondary sources throughout his themed chapters, each rich with examples of the innovative and diverse methods used by Reformation leaders to encourage, coax, and transmute the mindset of the masses, communities, individuals, away from the hegemony of the Roman Empire. He maintained, this inducement was carried out via diverse types of premeditated and effective media campaigns, such as sermons, songs, woodcuts, pamphlets, drama, and books. Additionally, he illustrated the multiple stages of Protestant evolutionary understanding and awareness, i.e., the birth of a new identity.[6] This new “Protestant identity” he remarked, “was many sided; “it could be narrow in focus, exclusive and limited,” as well as being “a tangible symbol of allegiance.” [7] Moreover, Pettegree indicated a big aspect of this spiritual dogma transformation was the watchword that captured the public imagination, the motto, which formed on everyone’s lips, Luther’s “evocation of the Scripture principle: Rein Evangelium, the `Pure Gospel’.”[8]

Furthermore, to the new believers, this dictum, that “Pure Gospel” could only be found in the Reformation, created a group identity, a collective spirit of fellowship, and produced a multitude of Protestant congregational songs, viz., to be sung together as one during worship. Moreover, liturgical songs were a conviction tool used to not only spread the Reformation mores and to ease the learning of its doctrine, but were also designed, especially Luther’s, to make you feel closer to God, but tempted by Satan – sin.[9] According to Alastair Hamilton, Luther, being an accomplished musician, considered music “as one of the most effective means of propagating his message.” He understood the influential power of music blended “sacred and a secular tradition in his hymns”, to sway and condition his flock.[10]

Additionally, folks sang in many places, such as inns, drinking houses, markets, by sailors, soldiers, journeyman, beggars, and ballad-singers to name a few.[11] Pettegree remarked, “The music of the Reformation also played a large role when the movement shifted from praise to destruction, from exhortation to confrontation and ridicule.”[12] Songs were used as powerful weapons. They could build encouragement, strengthen faith, and become verbal armor. The French Huguenots used Psalm 68, “`Let God arise, may his enemies be scattered!”, as their battle song. [13] And, in 1564, the song, Antwerpen rijck, 0 Keyserlicke Stede, set to Psalm 79, using the new metrical style of music, much embraced by Calvin, became a “classic protest song” of the Reformation.[14] Thus, Pettegree, with his melodic illustrations strived to accentuate how liturgical music played an integral part in influencing many in an anti-Empire stance, while creating a dynamic Protestant “Pure Gospel” cohort.

The power of song is not what Pettegree is the most vocal about. It is the capacity of books, pamphlets, woodcuts, and imagery, to influence the populace. Robert Scribner’s, For the Sake of Simple Folk, is, according to Pettegree, “one of the most influential single works ever published on our subject”,[15] yet he disagrees with its argument. Scribner claimed, “through a study of visual propaganda we may gain a wider understanding of how the Reformation appealed to common folk. He said, “Prints were the books of the unlearned.”[16] This reference indicates the learned must be reading to the illiterate, explaining the meaning of books, as well as its associated images. Pettegree stated, it is unlikely “literate `readers’ of woodcuts” would lower themselves by explaining the meaning of wood engravings to an illiterate socially inferior person.[17] Woodcuts, he said, “were a refined rather than a plebian pleasure.”[18] Luc Racaut explained, pious woodcuts were metaphorical and had a level of complexity only a literate man would understand.[19]

Moreover, Pettegree remarked, the cheap printing of pamphlets “created an impression”, greater than books or woodcuts, and were a “cacophony and irresistible pressure”.[20] The demand for these inexpensive methods of communication created a “Pamphlet moment”, which Pettegree suggested, “gave birth to many thousands of small religious books: which helped in “creating and reinforcing religious allegiance.”[21]

This brief review cannot possibly cover Pettegree’ s remarkable width and breath demonstrated in Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. I. Green, remarked, “ This volume will prove to be invaluable to all those undertaking serious work on the Reformation in future.”[22] Peter Arnade, said, “Pettegree’s book is also admirably written… it is ideal to use in the classroom too, where it should provoke much debate and discussion.”[23] Moreover, Susan C. Karant-Nunn, affirmed, “ However brief, this is a survey of lasting historiographic significance.”[24]

Pettegree, with his detailed information on the Reformation Reformers and their use of varied communication methods, songs, books, woodcuts, etc., which they used to sway individuals and communities against the Roman Empire and into the “Pure Gospel” of the Protestant revolution, indicated it was the educated, the literate, who understood the finely crafted metaphoric woodcuts. The illiterate, in Pettegree’s version, were not informed to the varied meaning of these communiqués by their betters. Yet, as he pointed out, Robert Scribner in his book, stressed, prints, i.e., woodcuts, were the preferred way the unlearned obtained information, via being read to by the educated.

It seems, based on the data presented, there is still much research to do on the methods and persuasion the Reformation media had on the public, as well as how this 500-year-old communication blitz is still shaping us today.

Bibliography

Arnade, Peter. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 3, (2007): 794-96. doi:10.2307/20478516.

Green, I. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” The English Historical Review 121, no. 491 ,( 2006): 602–604. www.jstor.org/stable/3806197.

Hamilton, Alastair. “Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. By Andrew Pettegree; The Protestant Clergy of Early Modern Europe. Edited by C. Scott Dixon and Luise Schorn-Schütte and The Gospel and Henry VIII. Evangelicals in the Early English Reformation. By Alec Ryrie.” The heythrop journal. 48, no. 2 , (2007): 303-305.

Karant-Nunn, Susan C. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” Church History 76, no. 1 , (2007): 179-181. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27644940.

Kemp, Graeme, and Andrew Pettegree. Universal Short Title Catalogue . 2021. https://www.ustc.ac.uk/ (accessed Sept. 06, 2021).

Pettegree, Andrew. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. Cambridge : New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Postles, Dave. “Review. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion.” Cultural and social history : the journal of the Social History Society. 4.3, 2007: 431.

Racaut, Luc. “Review of Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” Reformation. 11 , 2006: n. pag. Print.

Yale University Press London . Andrew Pettegree. 2021. https://www.yalebooks.co.uk/author_display.asp?SF1=sort_name&ST1=PETTEGREEANDREW (accessed Sept. 06, 2021).

  1. Yale University Press London . Andrew Pettegree. 2021
  2. Graeme Kemp, Andrew Pettegree. “Universal Short Title Catalogue”, 2021. https://www.ustc.ac.uk/.
  3. Yale University Press London . “Andrew Pettegree”. 2021
  4. Andrew Pettegree. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. Cambridge : New York: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2005),Kindle Locations 53-54.
  5. Pettegree. 57, Kindle.
  6. Ibid. 1, Kindle.
  7. Ibid. 2730, Kindle.
  8. Ibid. 384, Kindle.
  9. Andrew Pettegree. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. Cambridge : New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 289, Kindle.
  10. Alastair Hamilton. “Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion, By Andrew Pettegree”; “TheProtestant Clergy of Early Modern Europe. Edited by C. Scott Dixon and Luise Schorn-Schütte” and “TheGospel and Henry VIII. Evangelicals in the Early English Reformation. By Alec Ryrie.”The heythrop journal. 48, no. 2, (2007): 304.
  11. Ibid. 582, Kindle.
  12. Ibid. 576, Kindle.
  13. Ibid. 826, Kindle.
  14. Ibid. 946, Kindle.
  15. Ibid. 1388, Kindle.
  16. Ibid. 1383, Kindle.
  17. Ibid. 1569, Kindle.
  18. Ibid. 1610, Kindle.
  19. Luc Racaut. “Review of Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” Reformation. 11 , 2006: n. pag.
  20. Ibid. 2041, Kindle.
  21. Ibid. 2049, Kindle.
  22. I. Green. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” The English Historical Review 121, no. 491, (2006): 604.
  23. Peter Arnade. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 3, (2007): 796.
  24. Susan C. Karant-Nunn. “Reviewed Work: Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion by Andrew Pettegree.” Church History 76, no. 1 , (2007): 181.