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About this book

Peter G. Wallace adeptly interweaves the influential events of the early modern religious reformation with the transformations of political institutions, socio-economic structures, gender relations, and cultural values throughout Europe. In this established study, Wallace:
* examines the European Reformation as a long-term process
* reconnects the classic sixteenth-century religious struggles with the political and religious pressures confronting late medieval Christianity
* argues that the resolutions proposed by reformers, such as Luther, were not fully realised for most Christians until the early eighteenth century.

Incorporating the latest research, the second edition of this essential text now features a new chapter on the Reformation and Islam, expanded discussion of gender issues, and a helpful glossary.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
In the spring of 1776, the Catholic pastor for the small town of Munster in Upper Alsace, Antoine Maurer, petitioned his religious superior, the bishop of Basel, to order Maurer’s patron, the Benedictine abbot in Munster, for an increase in wages. Maurer served Munster and a half-dozen hamlets peppering the surrounding ridges. The petition listed the religious services that the priest performed to meet the spiritual needs of his flock. One duty was to bring the consecrated host (the viaticum) to sick and dying parishioners day or night in all weather. Maurer would ride a donkey while the churchwarden preceded him with an illuminated lantern and a handbell. When they encountered someone on the road, the churchwarden rang the bell to let the mountain folk know that they should kneel to honour the real presence of Christ as it passed. Maurer commented that, because it was a new practice, Lutherans needed to be told what it was about, and that he had ‘not yet met a single one who has refused to [kneel] after having been instructed’.1
Peter G. Wallace

The Warp: Threads of Reformation Histories, 1350–1650

Frontmatter

1. The Late Medieval Crisis, 1347–1517

Abstract
During the four centuries covered in this study, Europeans lived under the murderous shadow of plague. Between 1347 and 1352, an epidemic, later known as the Black Death, swept through Europe and killed perhaps one-third of its population. Imagine the trauma in our own world if a virulent form of flu killed nearly two billion people in the course of five years. The pervasiveness and scope of misery left the fourteenth-century chroniclers seeking moral explanation in human sinfulness and divine retribution. Long processions of penitent flagellants [Latin: to whip] passed from community to community whipping themselves in hope of appeasing God’s wrath and warding off plague through their expiation. Townsfolk blamed resident Jews for poisoning wells, even though they too were dying. Christian mobs murdered entire Jewish communities and burned their homes, yet the plague continued to rage. One could imagine, along with John of Winterthur, a Swiss Franciscan, that the apocalypse promised in the Bible had begun.1
Peter G. Wallace

2. Resistance, Renewal and Reform, 1414–1521

Abstract
In October 1414, a university professor and popular preacher travelled to the council at Constance under a guarantee of safe conduct offered by the Emperor-elect to discuss his views on the Church. There Jan Hus was arrested, tried and executed as a heretic without ever having the opportunity to articulate his call for reform. A century later, in April 1521, another university professor and popular preacher travelled to the Imperial Diet at Worms under a guarantee of safe conduct from the recently elected Emperor to discuss his views on the Church. Martin Luther was aware of Hus’s fate, but unlike Hus, he was permitted to speak. Luther’s refusal to recant put him at risk, but he managed to escape and, while in hiding, to sustain and further his movement. The different fates of these reformers had less to do with their message than with the profound shift in Church-state relations during the intervening century. This chapter will survey the medieval traditions of religious resistance, renewal and reform and plot the changes in Europe’s political and religious landscapes in the era between Hus and Luther.
Peter G. Wallace

3. Evangelical Movements and Confessions, 1521–59

Abstract
With hindsight, the division of medieval Christendom into several Christian churches appears as the inevitable outcome of Martin Luther’s dispute with Rome, but for the early reformers, their audiences and their opponents, the trajectory of events was far from clear. Initially, the ‘Luther affair’ triggered debate among theologians, but the implications of Luther’s new view of faith soon touched all Christians and threatened the privileged status of the clergy. In an age of vernacular printing in which reading was a public act, Luther’s emphasis on the Word of God, coined the catch-phrase ‘scripture alone’ (sola scriptura), opened the floodgates of popular enthusiasm for reform and induced the percolation of new ideas from below that would fuel the ‘evangelical’ (gospel-based) movement throughout the 1520s. In their enthusiasm, many believed that God was directly intervening in history, and Luther along with others saw the unfolding events as a sign of the coming Apocalypse. The dynamic imagery of the ‘last days’, with its violent struggle between the saved and the damned, took on a harsh reality when thousands of peasants and artisans rose in rebellion in 1524–6. Their defeat ended the first and radical phase of the evangelical movement. In the wake of the Peasants’ War, those magistrates and princes who still favoured Luther’s message assumed firmer control over reforms of ecclesiastical institutions and practices. By the 1530s, popular enthusiasm had mostly waned, and the Reformation became a struggle among political authorities to determine the belief and practices of their territorial churches.
Peter G. Wallace

4. Reformation and Religious War, 1550–1650

Abstract
After 1550, the European Reformation’s central battlefields spread beyond the German-speaking regions, as communities of belief galvanized into confessional camps and the political cost of religious division became clear. Religious wars in France, the Netherlands, Central Europe and England demonstrated the destructive potential of the new religious and political mix. Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist leaders drew up clear statements of ‘orthodox’ beliefs referred to as ‘confessions’, developed ecclesiastical systems to ensure discipline among the faithful and forged alliances with political authorities to foster or force consensus. Confessional solidarity demanded intolerance of religious minorities but also provided those minorities with the self-discipline necessary to resist pressures to conform. Within many states, the ruler’s power over the Church led to the integration of ecclesiastical institutions and personnel into government, broadening the state’s bureaucratic base and increasing the scope of the ruler’s patronage. Nevertheless, official churches also became arenas for factional squabbling among elite and provincial resistance to centralization.
Peter G. Wallace

The Weft: Making Sense of the Long European Reformation

Frontmatter

5. Settlements, 1600–1750: Church Building, State Building and Social Discipline

Abstract
The Peace of Westphalia appeared to mark the end of religious warfare between states, though confessional strife continued within territories. During the century after Westphalia, the political and religious pressures that had driven the European Reformation dissipated. In 1695, Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff first characterized the Reformation as an era in Church history, an era that had passed.1 In the eighteenth century, the drive for further reform played out in a series of settlements that recognized the plurality of legitimate churches and the right of dissent within confessional communities. Official intolerance against religious minorities sometimes victimized groups on a large scale, such as the French Huguenots in the 1680s and Protestants in the archdiocese of Salzburg in the 1730s, yet refugees from religious persecution could find safe havens in confessionally mixed states, such as Brandenburg-Prussia, where mercantile interests overrode religious intolerance.
Peter G. Wallace

6. Rereading the Reformation through Gender Analysis

Abstract
Traditionally, Reformation scholarship was predominantly a male endeavour, and as a result, accounts of the Reformation have emphasized the role of men as theological innovators, religious activists and victims of persecution. Beginning in the 1960s, feminist scholarship, initially conducted almost entirely by women, revisited the collected writings of the reformers, reams of pamphlet literature, parish visitation protocols and court records to explore the Reformation’s impact on women’s lives and the effect of women on the Reformation.1 Their findings have challenged established interpretative models. One cannot claim so pointedly, as Joan Kelly has for the Renaissance, that women had no Reformation.2 Women’s experiences were diverse, complex and often contradictory. Nevertheless, by rereading the Reformation’s legacies from the perspective of contemporary women, it is possible to see that rather than enriching female religious engagement, Catholic and Protestant reformers stifled much of late medieval female spirituality.
Peter G. Wallace

7. The European Reformation and Islam: From Menace to Coexistence

Abstract
The string of terrorist attacks that began in America on September 11, 2001 and spread to Europe and beyond by militants waging ‘holy war’ on the West in the name of Islam has revived crusading rhetoric among some Western politicians and heightened fear of Muslims in America and Europe. Tensions are particularly high in Europe, where globalization has brought waves of Muslim immigrants from Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe since the early 1950s, raising issues of cultural integration and religious tolerance. Current language sometimes echoes the apocalyptic rhetoric generated by Christian writers in the early sixteenth century as the Ottoman Turks appeared to push inexorably northward toward Vienna and Central Europe. Christian fears of the ‘Turkish menace’ began with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and would continue through the early eighteenth century, when the Turks withdrew south of the Danube and their threat to Europe appeared ended. Since the ancient Greeks first defined ‘Europe’ as a continent distinct from Asia, which they denigrated as barbarian and effeminate, Europeans have often defined themselves in contrast and opposition to the Asian ‘Orient’.1 As we have seen in the Introduction, Christian crusades to free the Holy Land from Muslim control played a critical role in forging the collective religious identity of medieval Christendom. Nevertheless, centuries of warfare and trade had done little to familiarize early modern Europeans with Islam, and the Turks as a new and frightening threat would play a critical role in the course of Europe’s long Reformation.
Peter G. Wallace

Conclusions

Abstract
On 11 March 1715, a party of Catholic and Lutheran officials surveyed the sanctuary of the former Franciscan church in the Alsatian city of Colmar. Protestants had celebrated services at the church for more than a century. Louis XIV, who had outlawed French Calvinism, could not expel his Alsatian Lutheran subjects, who were protected by Imperial law, so he ordered that the sanctuary be walled off from the nave and re-consecrated for Catholic services. The decision generated a protracted legal struggle in which Colmar’s Catholics and Protestants constructed conflicting and false confessional histories for the city in an effort to justify their rights to the contested sanctuary. Colmar’s Lutherans ‘forgot’ that their community initially had aligned, illegally, with Swiss reformers and not Luther, while the Catholics ‘remembered’ the popularly supported civic reformation as the act of two self-indulgent civic officials. In the end, the royal judges ruled that the wall would stay.
Peter G. Wallace
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