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The Catholic Reformation, c.1500-1650

5. Measuring the Impact

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In this module, we think about some of the imapcts of the Council of Trent, both in terms of the formal canons and decrees that the Council produced, but also some of the more practical changes (as exemplified in Acts of the Milanese Church). We also think about the nature of the spread of Catholicism on a global scale by considering several versions (Chinese, Mughal, Aztec, etc.) of the famous image of Madonna and Child known as the Salus Populi Romani.


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.


Simon Ditchfield is a Professor in the History Department. His research interests all relate to perceptions and uses of the past in previous societies, but particularly within the context of urban and religious culture in the Italian peninsula from c. 1300-1800.

Simon enjoys a long-standing international reputation. He has been a member of the Accademia Ambrosiana, Milan and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, both since 1998. In 1996-99 he was director of the HEFC-funded Heritage Studies as Applied History project. From 2010-13 he was co-director (with Helen Smith of the Department of English and Related Literature) of the AHRC project: Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe. He collaborates extensively with scholars in Europe and beyond and is on the international editorial boards of 'Rivista di storia de Cristianesimo' (Brescia), 'Church History and Religious Culture' (Amsterdam), 'Cheiron' (Milan) and 'Sanctorum: rivista dell'associazione per lo studio della santita, dei culti e dell'agiografia' (Rome), and is a co-editor of the series Sacro/santo (published by Viella, Rome).

Simon is also an advisory editor of the Washington DC-based Catholic Historical Review (2009-the present), the Archivum Societatem Societatis Iesu (2016-) and Church History (2016-). Since 2010 he has also been editor of the only journal specifically dedicated to looking at early modernity from a global and trans-national perspective: Journal of Early Modern History. This is the official publication of the Centre for Early Modern History, University of Minnesota. In 2015-16 Simon was President of the Ecclesiastical History Society.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ditchfield, S. (2018, August 15). The Catholic Reformation, c.1500-1650 - Measuring the Impact [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ditchfield, S. "The Catholic Reformation, c.1500-1650 – Measuring the Impact." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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