We have come a long way since Thomas Carlyle could declare: ‘The Diet of Worms, Luther’s appearance there on the 17 April 1521, may be considered as the greatest scene in Modern European History; the point, indeed, from which the whole subsequent history takes its rise.’1 Accounts of the Reformation which ascribed the victory of Protestantism to manifest destiny have expired and are unlikely to be revived, except by right-wing American fundamentalists. Amongst historians, gradualism, pluralism, and uncertainty have become our watchwords in the spread of evangelical beliefs. Ranke has been toppled from his pedestal, and the most authoritative recent history of the period speaks in the plural of ‘German histories’ in the age of ‘Reformations’.2 Yet the cooling of religious ardour in a post-Christian age has led to no visible lessening of interest in the Reformation, whatever we understand it to be. A survey of the last two decades reveals a profusion of new textbooks with ambitious titles and comprehensive agendas. Euan Cameron led the way with The European Reformation, followed by Carter Lindberg’s The European Reformations, both of which are now in their second editions. Then came James Tracy’s Europe’s Reformations, Andrew Pettegree’s The Reformation World, Peter Wallace’s The Long European Reformation, and, not least, the massive survey by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided. More recently, Ulinka Rublack’s Reformation Europe and Andrew Pettegree’s Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion have joined the

* Revised version of ‘The Reformation between Deconstruction and Reconstruction. Reflections on Recent Writings on the German Reformation’, combined with ‘After Ranke: German Reformation History Recast’.