Military occupation under the eyes of the Lord: Studies in Erfurt during the Thirty Years War
Title: Military occupation under the eyes of the Lord: Studies in Erfurt during the Thirty Years War
Author: BERG, Holger
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2008
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The growing interest in ways of coping with past wars has led researchers to reexamine the role of religion. Focus has shifted away from religious enmities to a set of less-explored issues. Which of the messages propagated in homilies did laymen adopt and adapt or reject? Did believers focus on consolation and protection or emphasise punishments and sin? These questions are addressed by studying the Thirty Years War at a local level. The study compares how pastors and lay chroniclers described divine interventions. Erfurt in Central Germany is well-suited for such a case-study. The Lutheran town, with a Catholic minority, hosted a Swedish garrison in 1631-1635 and 1637-1650. The historical works of twenty-six local authors who lived during the war are described in the appendix. The analysis proceeds in three steps. The first examines the many prodigies that never made it to print; the second section inspects debates amongst Lutheran pastors; the third analyses lay war-time piety. Erfurt is examined in order to take a closer look at general developments. Hence, local debates are connected to broader theological discussion. The contextualisation shows that the war strengthened the Lutheran reform movement and proved detrimental to millenarian policy-making. The potential for change was restrained in other fields. During the war, lay commitment to the call for repentance was lowered by practical considerations and alternative ways of apportioning blame. These challenges diminished after war. Authors highlighted prodigies and exempla in harmony with the penitential baseline. The theory of cognitive dissonance is used to explain the selection and gradual stabilisation of religious beliefs. The findings thus refine existing hypotheses, outlining a range of long-term cultural changes in the wake of the war. More casestudies are needed to test how representative Erfurt findings are. Sources on the Catholic minority only sufficed to profile some denominational peculiarities.
LC Subject Heading: Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648; Erfurt (Germany) -- History; Military government -- Germany -- History -- 17th century
Defense date: 14/11/2008; Examining Board: Prof. Martin Van Gelderen (EUI) - supervisor Prof. Thomas Kaufmann (University of Göttingen) Prof. Giulia Calvi (EUI) Prof. Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen (University of Copenhagen)
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