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The quiet Reformation. Magistrates and the emergence of Protestantism in Tudor Norwich. By Muriel C. McClendon. Pp. xv + 340 incl. 2 maps. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999. [pound]32.50. 0 8047 3513 1
According to Muriel McClendon, the course of the Reformation in Norwich was remarkably smooth. The city underwent a 'quiet Reformation', largely free of persecution and religious strife, because its mayor and aldermen consistently followed a policy of de facto religious toleration. This policy of toleration did not spring, McClendon is quick to assert, from any intellectual or ideological valorisation of religious freedom and diversity, but rather as part of a strategy by Norwich's magistrates to prevent any outside intervention in civic affairs.
This is an intriguing thesis but the quality of the research on which it is based is disappointing. A close look at one crucial section of the book, the account of the Marian persecution in Norwich, alone reveals numerous errors, omissions and distortions. According to …