The Reformation: An exhibition at The John Rylands Library

A monk who shattered the strength of the Catholic Church, a monarch who wanted to take more than one wife, a society that put sin up for sale – and the power of the printed word to challenge it all. The John Ryland’s latest exhibition reveals a series of events that changed the course of history forever.

Reformation sharing graphic

In October 1517, German monk and scholar Martin Luther began questioning the Catholic Church, particularly for its sale of “indulgences”, or sins that could be forgiven – for a price. Luther may have remained a little-known scholar but for the fact that his words took shape in printed form, reaching thinkers all over the world – including the radical scholar, William Tyndale and one of history’s most notorious monarchs, King Henry VIII.

The Reformation invites you to journey through these tumultuous times. Find out how Luther’s work led to the splintering of the Catholic Church in England. Learn how Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce led to him overthrowing the Catholic Church and electing himself head of the Church of England. And discover why William Tyndale’s translation of the bible into English is still felt in the language we speak today.

The Reformation explores the consequences of these events via rare religious tracts owned by The John Ryland’s Library, letters that positively spit blood – and one of the world’s earliest examples of print. The Reformation is an exhibition that illustrates how revolutionary writing not only changed the course of English history. It shows us words that changed the world.


The Reformation, 7 September 2017 – 4 March 2018

Free entry, open daily:

Monday & Sunday: 12noon to 5pm

Tuesday – Saturday: 10am to 5pm

The John Rylands Library – 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH / Tel: 0161 306 0555

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