Diversity and Dissent

Diversity and Dissent: Negotiating Religious Difference in Central Europe, 1500-1800

Howard Louthan
Gary B. Cohen
Franz A. J. Szabo
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Diversity and Dissent
    Book Description:

    Early modern Central Europe was the continent's most decentralized region politically and its most diverse ethnically and culturally. With the onset of the Reformation, it also became Europe's most religiously divided territory and potentially its most explosive in terms of confessional conflict and war. Focusing on the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, this volume examines the tremendous challenge of managing confessional diversity in Central Europe between 1500 and 1800. Addressing issues of tolerance, intolerance, and ecumenism, each chapter explores a facet of the complex dynamic between the state and the region's Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Utraquist, and Jewish communities. The development of religious toleration-one of the most debated questions of the early modern period-is examined here afresh, with careful consideration of the factors and conditions that led to both confessional concord and religious violence.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-109-5
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction. Between Conflict and Concord: The Challenge of Religious Diversity in Central Europe
    (pp. 1-9)
    Howard Louthan

    In 1564 Rome’s peripatetic diplomat and soon-to-be cardinal, Giovanni Franceso Commendone, received a lengthy letter from one of Poland’s most prominent clerics. The Venetian Commendone had been serving as a papal envoy for more than a decade. In 1553 he successfully completed a delicate mission to the court of Mary Tudor, helping Rome reestablish its links with the wayward English kingdom. When Pope Pius IV decided in 1560 to reopen the Council of Trent, he sent Commendone across the Alps as his emissary. In a frenetic flurry of activity, the pope’s ambassador met with both Catholic and Protestant princes, inviting...

  7. Chapter 1 Constructing and Crossing Confessional Boundaries: The High Nobility and the Reformation of Bohemia
    (pp. 10-29)
    Petr Maťa

    For any historian who has ever dealt with the history of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the Kingdom of Bohemia has been a familiar place. Given the broadly recognized particularity and importance of the historical processes taking place in this territory, significant research has been invested here. Besides the local historiography, the contribution of international scholarship has been remarkable. With respect to all this research, however, a marked deficit in our knowledge—and thus an interesting challenge—remains. We have rather fragmentary knowledge of the confessional composition of the nobility in Reformation Bohemia, despite the fact that research on early modern...

  8. Chapter 2 Religious Toleration in Sixteenth-Century Poland: Political Realities and Social Constraints
    (pp. 30-52)
    Paul W. Knoll

    By the end of the European Middle Ages, the Polish state had succeeded in establishing a significant regional identity and had incorporated the heritage of the European tradition as it had emerged in Latin Europe. Although it was part of what Jerzy Kłoczowski has revealingly depicted as “the younger Europe,” the polity, society, and culture of Poland were fully part of the larger picture of medievalChristianitas.¹ The civilization that had evolved under the Piast dynasty (until 1370) was in many respects derivative, and the brief period of Angevin rule from Hungary (1370–1382) represented a period of flux. But...

  9. Chapter 3 Customs of Confession: Managing Religious Diversity in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Westphalia
    (pp. 53-72)
    David M. Luebke

    These few cryptic lines, composed sometime after 1632, describe religious behaviors and perceptions of legal authority that were profoundly at odds with the norms and expectations of the emerging confessional state.¹ The prince to whom they were addressed, Bishop Ferdinand I of Münster (r. 1612–1650), an ardent exponent of Catholic reform, was determined to eliminate “heresy” from the lands he ruled. The report, however, revealed Ferdinand’s failure to impose unity of belief and practice on a town—Vreden—that almost ten yearsearlier, in 1623, had submitted formally to the Catholic faith. The author also ventured an explanation for...

  10. Chapter 4 Cuius regio, eius religio: The Ambivalent Meanings of State Building in Protestant Germany, 1555–1655
    (pp. 73-91)
    Robert von Friedeburg

    Central Europe at the turn of the sixteenth century may best be understood as a collection of three supranational polities: the Hungarian Kingdom, the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation and the empire of the German Nation.¹ None of these empires survived the early modern period. The kingdom of Hungary was shattered by the Turkish victory at Mohács in 1526. Poland saw troops from Sweden and Brandenburg in Warsaw as early as 1656. Though Poland recovered afterwards, the Polish Sejm came under the influence of noble factions funded by Moscow, Vienna, and Berlin in the 1730s if not earlier. Movements to restore independence led...

  11. Chapter 5 The Entropy of Coercion in the Holy Roman Empire: Jews, Heretics, Witches
    (pp. 92-113)
    Thomas A. Brady Jr.

    Religion and authority has become what the late Heiko A. Oberman liked to call “a neuralgic theme.” Journalists, historians, and professors of religious studies rush to explain violence connected with religion, especially in Islamic countries, but occasionally in humbler places such as Northern Ireland. The French historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie set a tone early in the game. In 1979 he compared the Iranian mullahs to “the monks of the Catholic League,” who represented “the popish fundamentalism … still lurking in the popular sensibility” that emerged “intact, triumphant” with an organization that was “not liberal … but democratic, pre-revolutionary, manipulative,...

  12. Chapter 6 Conflict and Concord in Early Modern Poland: Catholics and Orthodox at the Union of Brest
    (pp. 114-136)
    Mikhail V. Dmitriev

    The history of religious intolerance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, unlike the history of Polish tolerance in the same period, has not been studied in any systematic fashion. This situation distorts our vision of the confessional landscape of Eastern and Central Europe in the early modern period. In particular, the political decline of Poland-Lithuania in the second half of the seventeenth century and the ascendancy of Russia cannot be understood adequately without taking into account the Polish state’s failure to accommodate religious and cultural differences in the first half of the seventeenth century and during...

  13. Chapter 7 Confessionalization and the Jews: Impacts and Parallels in the City of Strasbourg
    (pp. 137-152)
    Debra Kaplan

    Confessionalization is a paradigm that has been used to describe the convergence of religious and political developments during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In the mid sixteenth century, different religious groups drew up confessions in which clerics articulated specific religious beliefs and doctrines. In order to enforce adherence to these newly defined religious values among believers, religious leaders aligned themselves with the political authorities of burgeoning early modern states. Thus, the confessionalization process comprises the ways in which religious and political leaders sought to control both the public and private worlds of their adherents through education, discipline, and...

  14. Chapter 8 Mary “Triumphant over Demons and Also Heretics”: Religious Symbols and Confessional Uniformity in Catholic Germany
    (pp. 153-172)
    Bridget Heal

    Religious rituals—in particular those associated with the Virgin Mary and with the Eucharist—have rightly been identified as one of the ways in which early modern Catholic elites sought to manage religious conflict and diversity in Central Europe. Anna Coreth’sPietas Austriaca: österreichische Frömmigkeit im Barockexplored the devotion that members of the house of Habsburg showed to Mary, as well as to the cross of Christ and to the Eucharist. Coreth drew particular attention to the Habsburgs’ dedication to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, brought to Central Europe, she suggested, from Spain by Emperors Charles V and...

  15. Chapter 9 Heresy and Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy
    (pp. 173-192)
    Regina Pörtner

    Over the past two decades, the role of literacy in religious dissent has received much attention from medieval and early modern historians. In investigating this complex subject they have made a strong case for setting aside conventional chronological boundaries. Changes and continuities in popular uses of literacy, for instance, and the longevity of clerical misconceptions about them would make rewarding subjects for long-term, comparative studies. Instructive forays into this vast field have been made by historians exploring the significance of literacy across the spectrum of medieval heresy.¹ In connection with this it has been convincingly argued that clerical caste identity...

  16. Chapter 10 Union, Reunion, or Toleration? Reconciliatory Attempts among Eighteenth-Century Protestants
    (pp. 193-208)
    Alexander Schunka

    The history of uniting or reuniting different confessional groups is as old as the confessional divisions themselves. Interconfessional dialogue became a prominent feature of religious life in the Reformation era. The fundamental constitutional laws of the Holy Roman Empire, such as the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 or the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, aimed at confessional unity and the abolition of schism. At least from the Marburg Colloquy (1529) onward, Central European theologians of different denominations met occasionally, usually under the guidance of political rulers, to discuss the problems of confessional division. Normally, such meetings yielded limited or even...

  17. Chapter 11 Confessional Uniformity, Toleration, Freedom of Religion: An Issue for Enlightened Absolutism in the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 209-218)
    Ernst Wangermann

    In their effort to impose some kind of order and sense on the vast, unwieldy, and recalcitrant raw material of history, historians divide the past into periods like the ancient, medieval, and early and late modern periods, and arrange complex phenomena under various categories, analyzing for instance the phenomenon of absolutism under the categories of confessional and enlightened absolutism. These categories can be paired with related ones to suggest patterns that seem more or less logical. The three concepts in the title of my essay, each related to this volume’s theme of negotiating religious diversity, can be paired in this...

  18. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 219-227)
  19. Index
    (pp. 228-240)