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History   >   The Catholic Reformation, 1500-1650


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The Catholic Reformation, 1500-1650

In this course, Professor Simon Ditchfield (University of York) explores the Catholic Reformation. We begin by thinking about approaches to the period, focusing in particular on the various terms that historians have used to describe the reforms of the church in this period and the ways in which the historian can think about religion. After that, we think about the role of the pope and the centrality of the city of Rome in the Catholic Reformation, before turning in the third module to the spiritual regeneration of the Catholic church in the period, focusing especially on the missions of Francis Xavier and Roberto de Nobili. In the fourth module we think about the Council of Trent (1545-63) before moving on in the fifth module to consider its impact in terms of both doctrine and the actual running of the church. The sixth module provides a brief conclusion to the course as a whole, focusing in particular on the range of media in which the Catholic Reformation manifested itself around the world ¬– from Milanese confession booths in the Andes to Florentine images of Jerome carved in Indian ivory.


In this module, we introduce some of the terms by which this period has been known (e.g. Counter Reformation, Catholic Reformation, Early Modern Catholicism, etc.) before thinking about the difference between religion as a 'noun' (focus on top-down doctrine with a focus on universal prescription) and religion as a 'verb' (focus on bottom-up practice, with an emphasis on the local and particular).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ditchfield, S. (2018, August 15). The Catholic Reformation, 1500-1650 - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ditchfield, S. "The Catholic Reformation, 1500-1650 – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Simon Ditchfield

Prof. Simon Ditchfield

York University