Rawlings, Helen 1955–

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Rawlings, Helen 1955–


Born February 6, 1955. Education: University of Liverpool, B.A., M.Phil.; University of York, P.G.C.E.


Office—School of Modern Languages, University of Leicester, University Rd., Leicester LE1 7RH, England. E-mail—[email protected]


University of Leicester, Leicester, England, began as lecturer, currently senior lecturer in Spanish and director of Spanish studies.


Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Spain, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2002.

The Spanish Inquisition, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Rhetoric and Reality in Early Modern Spain, edited by Richard Pym, Tamesis Books, 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including English Historical Review, European History Quarterly, Historian, History, and Journal of Ecclesiastical History.


Helen Rawlings's teaching and writing focus on Spanish religious history. Her first book, Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Spain, examines the years from 1490 to 1640, with attention to both the broad view and specific details of the era. Writing in the English Historical Review, Henry Kamen noted the author's "good use of the latest available research," her "welcome summary" of recent studies of religious reform in the Counter Reformation, and her "excellent review of the mechanics of the Church." While he found the book somewhat marred by a centuries-old "image of a persecuting Spain," he summarized the book as "a careful and intelligent introduction to an area of study that cries out for more research."

Rawlings's second book is The Spanish Inquisition, described by Stacey Schlau in the Historian as "a succinct, comprehensive introduction to the topic." The author begins with a chapter devoted to the existing literature on the Inquisition, the institution created by the Catholic Church in Spain to root out major and minor heresies, which operated between 1478 and 1834. Additional chapters address the activities of the office, the groups it targeted, and its eventual decline and abolition. According to Kimberlee D. Garza, who in Teaching History called the book "a first-rate introduction" to the subject, Rawlings shows that the Inquisition's "reputation as a vicious means of control and torture was not as severe as previously reported." Times Higher Education Supplement contributor John Edwards expressed a number of concerns about the work, many of which he attributed to inadequate editing, concluding that "greater editorial care would have made the book recommendable as a treatment of a vital and controversial subject." In contrast, Schlau observed that "Rawlings skillfully weaves together the juridical, social, religious, cultural, and political threads that together shaped the Spanish Inquisition, producing a volume that will probably satisfy historians and lay-people alike." Writing for H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, A. Katie Harris commented on Rawlings's "awareness of historical context and change" throughout the book, deeming it "one of the book's greatest strengths." Harris also highlighted the author's use of statistics and primary sources as well as her "rigorously historical approach and her thorough synthesis of recent research" and summed the work up as "an excellent introduction to this complex and controversial topic."



Choice, June, 2006, D.L. Tengwall, review of The Spanish Inquisition, p. 1894.

English Historical Review, February, 2003, Henry Kamen, review of Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Spain, p. 209; June, 2006, Henry Kamen, review of The Spanish Inquisition, p. 927.

Historian, winter, 2006, Stacey Schlau, review of The Spanish Inquisition, p. 893.

Sixteenth Century Journal, winter, 2003, Michael McGrath, review of Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Spain, pp. 1220-1222.

Teaching History, fall, 2007, Kimberlee D. Garza, review of The Spanish Inquisition, p. 105.

Times Higher Education Supplement, December 2, 2005, John Edwards, "Devil in the Details," p. 28.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July, 2006), A. Katie Harris, "Introducing the Inquisition: A New Synthesis of New Scholarship."

University of Leicester Web site,http://www.le.ac.uk/ (September 22, 2008), faculty profile.

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