In the last fifteen years or so, a generation of European social historians, armed with an integrated understanding of society, class, culture, and politics, has demystified the history of religion. In particular, they have probed the complicated relationship between institutional and popular belief in the time when Roman Catholicism formed the ideological mainstay of landed power in the precapitalist European countryside. Even apart from the Reformation, they have shown that orthodox religion faced a raft of powerful popular challenges. Superstition, magic, and other “pagan”—or folk—carryovers still survived. Even when accepted, orthodox religion often underwent subversive transmutation at the hands of supposedly docile and devout underclasses who reinvested its practices with new meanings, reappropriated its symbols for their own ends, and sometimes thereby used it as a resource against the predations of society's rulers. In the process, they transformed the Church's own religion from a theology of subjugation into an arena for popular struggle, resistance, expression, and assertion.