Christendom Destroyed

Christendom Destroyed

Europe 1517-1648

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780670024568
  • 752  Pages
  • Viking Books


A remarkable new volume in the critically acclaimed Penguin History of Europe series

From peasants to princes, no one was untouched by the spiritual and intellectual upheaval of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther’s challenge to church authority
forced Christians to examine their beliefs in ways that shook the foundations of their religion. The subsequent divisions, fed by dynastic rivalries and military changes, fundamentally altered the relations between ruler and ruled. Geographical and scientific discoveries challenged the unity of Christendom as a belief community.
Europe, with all its divisions, emerged instead as a geographical projection. Chronicling these dramatic changes, Thomas More, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Cervantes created works that continue to resonate with us.

Spanning the years 1517 to 1648, Christendom Destroyed is Mark Greengrass’s magnum opus: a rich tapestry that fosters a deeper understanding of Europe’s identity today.


“[Christendom Destroyed] offers insight into the extraordinary turmoil that the average European endured in an era typically described through reverent admiration for art, architecture, and intellectual development. Using the histories of well-chosen cities and countries as examples for each discussion, Greengrass reveals that it was ‘curiosity [that] destroyed Christendom.’”Publishers Weekly

“Christendom Destroyed is a magnificent achievement. Engagingly written, remarkably comprehensive in scope, impeccable in its scholarship, it should find a wide readership which will be rewarded with a new understanding of one of the most decisive eras in European history. There are insights on every page. Mark Greengrass brings his deep learning and light touch to a period that now bears the mark of his strong and convincing interpretation.”—Robert A. Schneider, Professor of History, Indiana University
“Mark Greengrass is a leading authority on early modern Europe, and he’s written an extraordinary book, one that combines learning, imagination, and insight. It explores the full range of the European experience in these years, with attention to all social classes and regions, and to Europe’s interactions with other continents. This is history that takes seriously our twenty-first century questions about what Europe is and where it fits in the larger world.”—Jonathan Dewald, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

“Composed in four countries (three of them in the European Union), Mark Greengrass’s contribution to this series offers an unusually wide-angled panorama of European history from Luther to the Peace of Westphalia, seasoned with a plethora of richly-illustratve and often unfamiliar illustrations. While some centripetal concepts vanished in this era, an emergent Europe composed of composite states acquired decisive global advantages through scientific breakthroughs and overseas empires.”—William Monter, Professor of History, Northwestern Universit

“[Christendom Destroyed], the product of a high standard of creative historical scholarship founded on years of study of archival and literary evidence by a much respected observer of the sixteenth-century scene, reflects a fine grasp of the outcome of modern research and research methods. It is Mark Greengrass’ achievement to have imposed upon his subject a sense of order which draws the reader along…. He may be commended, too, for having written a book which, by illustrating human situations and predicaments, places men and women centre stage, while recognising the importance of ideas and their influence upon the world of the time. It is characteristics such as these which earn the book the five stars which it surely deserves.”Christopher Allmand, The Tablet

“Like its fellow volumes in the Penguin History of Europe, Greengrass’s book is a model of scholarly dedication. It makes heavy demands of the general reader…But in its sheer erudition, Christendom Destroyed more than repays the intellectual investment. Nothing escapes Greengrass’s fascinated gaze, from the new foods that came to Europe from the Americas, such as pumpkins, pineapples and potatoes, to the extraordinary politics of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, arguably Europe’s first constitutional monarchy. Almost every page has a memorable nugget, from the invention of the world atlas to the scatological sermons of Martin Luther….”—Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times (UK)

“[Mark Greengrass] writes with clarity and vigour, in a highly engaging style, and his book is as full of fascinating nuggets as it is of wise judgements. It is not the historian’s job to make the past seem comforting and familiar. Mark Greengrass succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life a vanished world that is consistently strange and surprising—and sometimes disturbing and repellant—even as he encourages us to recognise the ways in which it prefigures our own.” —Peter Marshall, Literary Review (UK)