The Pain of Reformation examines a constellation of masculinity, vulnerability, and ethics in the tradition of heroic poetry in Renaissance England. While many understand representations of masculinity to be direct reflections of cultural definitions of manliness or the triumphant expression of nationalist and proto-imperial ideologies, for some the discourses of masculinity and virtue provided opportunities to reflect on the ethics of responding to bodily and cultural vulnerability in the wake of the Reformation. This book argues that the most illuminating meditation on vulnerability, masculinity, and ethics in the wake of the Reformation came from Spenser, a poet often associated with the brutalities of English rule in Ireland. The underside, or shadow, of violence in both the fantasies and the realities of Spenser's England was a corresponding contemplation of the nature of the precarious lives of subjects in post-Reformation England. Spenser's 1590 Faerie Queene opens with a gesture of disarmament consonant with early modern allegories of peace in which Venus, or Love, disarms Mars, or War. The poem explores the possibility that vulnerability was a solution to, not merely an unfortunate consequence of, real and imagined forms of violence. From this meditation on what it means to be vulnerable to harm emerges a capacious exploration of an ethics emerging from a series of necessary vulnerabilities to affect, bodily sensation, and sympathy for others.