Fallen idols, broken noses: Defacement and memory after the Reformation
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Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by SAGE. No embargo required on publication
The Henrician and Edwardian Reformations of the 1530s and 1540s were marked by successive waves of iconoclasm in English churches and cathedrals. Statues, screens, wall paintings, and windows were among the idols targeted. While some objects and artworks were destroyed or effaced entirely, others remained in situ, bearing the marks of iconoclastic violence. Even today, many English cathedrals harbour numerous examples of defaced images which have suffered beheading or scoring of the face and hands, but have been neither repaired nor removed. This article explores how various post-Reformation observers including Protestants, Catholics, antiquaries, and poets understood and responded to defaced images, arguing that traditionalists and reformers found a paradoxical common cause in the curation of iconoclasm.
Research leading to this article has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust (‘Speaking with the Dead’ Research Project) and the European Research Council (ERC Grant Agreement n. 284085: ‘The Past in its Place’).
This is the author accepted manuscript.