This essay takes up a variety of issues arising from within the narrative offered in Brad S. Gregory's The Unintended Reformation. This book has been widely perceived to be informed by a Catholic metaphysic, even as Gregory continues to disavow that framework, or declares it as irrelevant to his historical analyses. Maintaining that The Unintended Reformation amounts to a declensionist narrative, this essay scrutinizes the model of historical causation underlying Gregory's narrative. Avoiding the pattern of numerous earlier critiques, which contest the book from a liberal-secular-progressive standpoint whose validity Gregory evidently means to contest, this essay instead focuses on tensions and contradictions internal to The Unintended Reformation. Key here is the alleged, comprehensive “failure” of post-Reformation Europe. Premising his declensionist account on alternative choices and histories—roads not taken—The Unintended Reformation evinces a conceptual tension underlying its overall narrative agenda, namely, that between a discretionary model of historical development and a fatalistic model of historical inevitability.
“Botched Execution” or Historical Inevitability: Conceptual Dilemmas in Brad S. Gregory's The Unintended Reformation
Thomas Pfau; “Botched Execution” or Historical Inevitability: Conceptual Dilemmas in Brad S. Gregory's The Unintended Reformation. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2016; 46 (3): 603–628. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-3644062
Download citation file: