In 1547, the young King Edward VI issued a series of religious injunctions intending to reform the Churches in England. Religious imagery was a tangible and permanent aspect of the landscape, both inside and outside the Churches. For many people, it was one of the first aspects of the Church to be reformed, and the degree to which it was reformed often was indicative of an individual's or community's theological leanings. Behind this destruction lay a longstanding debate over the nature, purpose, and appropriate uses of images, particularly in relation to worship and devotion. The Reformation lines between icon and idol, however, are much more difficult to identify than any single debate, event, or royal injunction would suggest.
From Icons to Idols tracks the image debate from the perspectives of both Protestants and Catholics across the period of religious change in England from 1525 to 1625. For scholars of the English Reformation, iconoclasm has played a major role in the historiographical disputes over the nature, length, and efficacy of Protestant reform. The fresh perspective of David J. Davis incorporates geography, historical use and abuse, popular appeal, size, dimensions and what was represented.