The purpose of this volume is to provide a collection of essays embodying recent research on popular religion within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany and Bohemia) in the later middle ages and early modern period. There has been a considerable efflorescence of research on the general theme of ‘popular religion’ over the past decade, although very little has been published on German topics, whether in English or German.1 The work presented here represents a sampling of approaches and subjects that is distinctive in three ways. First, it reveals the extremely broad range of problems and issues that may be explored under the heading ‘popular religion’, encompassing female spirituality, the role of gender, the psychology of religious devotion, the creation of religious mythology and forms of religio-political discourse, attitudes towards the Jews, witchcraft, popular magic, the nature of Protestant ‘popular belief’ and the appropriation of popular religious phenomena by the Catholic Reformation. Such issues also encompass both the rural and urban worlds, and deal with intensively private as well as with overtly public manifestations of belief.
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