Ships of church and state in the sixteenth-century reformation and counterreformation : setting sail for the modern state
Title: Ships of church and state in the sixteenth-century reformation and counterreformation : setting sail for the modern state
Series/Number: EUI MWP LS; 2014/05
Depictions of ships of church and state have a long-standing religious and political tradition. Noah’s Ark or the Barque of St. Peter represent the community of the saved and redeemed. However, since Plato at least, the ship also symbolizes the Greek polis and later the Roman Empire. From the fourth century 'the Constantinian era' on, these traditions merged. Christianity was made the state religion. Over the course of a millennium, church and state united in a religiously homogeneous, yet not always harmonious, Corpus Christianum. In the sixteenth century, the Reformation led to disenchantment with the sacred character of both church and state as mediators indispensible for religious and secular salvation. The alleged immediate relation of the individual to God led to a diverging of state and church in a long and conflictual process. Depictions of ships became of a denominational character. They mirrored conflicts over religious domination, the relationship between state and church and key dogmas. They strove to reassure the viewer of his allegiance to the respective faith and confessional state; at the same time, they tried to mobilise against the other denomination and its confessional state. Confessionalization therefore generated new (not always harmonious) religiously charged states and corresponding ships of (state-)churches. We found several on the Protestant side, while a Catholic ship set sail even without state protection. In the sixteenth century, a contradictory trajectory began that led to a religiously neutral, secular state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which challenged churches to refrain from all theocratic claims and to redefine their identity. Religiously neutral ships of state point to this development.
Subject: State; Confessional state; Neutral state; Reformation; Church; Depictions of ships of church and state
The lecture was delivered on 21 March 2012
Type of Access: openAccess
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