skip to content

 

A major new digital exhibition launches on 7 September to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Featuring more than 130 items, it brings together a fascinating array of manuscripts, books and artefacts – from defaced missals and unique incunables to clocks, tobacco boxes, and finger bones – to illustrate how the events that ruptured Western Christendom in the sixteenth century have been remembered, forgotten, contested and re-invented. It offers fresh insight into how the memory of the multiple and competing Reformations – Protestant, radical and Catholic – emerged and evolved in their immediate aftermath and illuminates the complex and divisive cultural legacies that this process has bequeathed to subsequent generations.

The exhibition is the result of a fruitful collaboration between Cambridge University Library, Lambeth Palace Library, and York Minster Library. It is the work of a team of historians (Alexandra Walsham and Ceri Law) and literary scholars (Brian Cummings and Bronwyn Wallace) involved in the Arts and Humanities Research Council project ‘Remembering the Reformation’. Based jointly at the Universities of Cambridge and York, this runs for three years from 2016 to 2019. The result of many months of research and visits to a range of museums, libraries, and archives, the exhibition’s themes reflect the four central strands of the AHRC project: (1) Lives and Afterlives; (2) Events and Temporalities; (3) Places, Objects, and Spaces; and (4) Ritual, Liturgy, and the Body. For more information, see the project website: http://rememberingthereformation.org.uk/.

The exhibition has facilitated new links between academic and library staff in all three partner institutions and fostered many mutually enriching conversations.  We hope that it will stimulate wide interest, contribute to the lively debates that are taking place in this Reformation year, and prove a resource of lasting value in the future.

The exhibition can be viewed at https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/reformation/  and a selection of fully digitised items will be published on the Cambridge Digital Library over the coming months. The exhibition accompanies an international conference at Murray Edwards College, and James Simpson Professor of English at Harvard University will give a public lecture at Great St Mary’s Church ay 6pm on Thursday 7 September, entitled “Stilled Lives, Still Lives: Reformation Memorial Focus”.

The header image depicts the ‘wounded’ Stainton Missal, a volume slashed multiple times by iconoclasts at the pages including the most sacred part of the Catholic mass. The book nevertheless survived in the hands of reformers during the centuries following the Reformation. From York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the parish of Stainton. https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/reformation/artifacts/the-wounded-missal/