Christendom Destroyed

Christendom Destroyed

Europe 1517-1648

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


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.


“A tour de force of scholarship that begins with a gradual and accessible buildup and then descends, like the century, into a convulsion of dynastic entanglements.”
Kirkus Reviews
“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.’”
 —Publisher’s Weekly
 “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…. It is Mark Greengrass’ achievement to have imposed upon his subject a sense of order which draws the reader along…. It is characteristics such as these which earn the book the five stars which it surely deserves.”
Christopher Allmand, The Tablet (UK)
“A model of scholarly dedication. It makes heavy demands of the general reader…. 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)
“[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…. Greengrass succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life a vanished world.”
 —Peter Marshall, Literary Review (UK)
“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.”
—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. 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-illustrative and often unfamiliar illustrations.”
—William Monter, Professor of History, Northwestern University