Religion and the Early Modern State is a collection of 13 essays by several North American and European contributors on rebelling against state religion. This book is very academic and not for leisure reading, but it covers a topic that might be of interest to those interested in church and state issues, especially when a church or religion has been made the state church or religion.
The authors show what has happened in the past in the East and the West when the government has decided that there shall be only one religion in their country and that no other could exist without their special permission. Even then the non-state religion had to be small and very much under the control of the government. Those who rebelled against the state religion where either imprisoned, exiled or killed.
The authors also show that sometimes those who opposed the state religion were or are able to co-exist with the state religion without causing the government any hassle. England is a prime example, where the Anglican Church is the state religion and was trying to destroy the Catholics there. They did not succeed, and today the Catholic Church somewhat flourishes there.
The book has many bibliographical references, footnotes, and an index. It does not have any illustrations which could have enlivened the book a bit. Because various countries are discussed, a reader can choose from the various essays and read those he or she likes or understands better. A reader can also discover new information about countries or religions that he or she is not familiar with. There are essays on China and Russia, which to some are mysterious countries. The book can expose such readers to new insights into those countries and their religions.
The writing style of the authors is of course very academic and a bit dry, but get past that and the reader can learn some new things about religion and the state. James D. Tracy is the author of several books, including Europe’s Reformation, 1450-1650 (2005), The Low Countries in the Sixteenth Century (2005), Emperor Charles V, the Impresario of War (2002), City Walls (2000), The Political Economy of Merchant Empires (1991), and the editor of the Journal of Early Modern History. He is also professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. Marguerite Ragnow is the associate director at the Center for Early Modern History at the University of Minnesota.