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Abstract Wayne Te Brake


Political Spaces for Religious Differences

Wayne te Brake Purchase College, SUNY

In Reformation and post-Reformation Europe, the deeply conflicted emergence of religious coexistence can teach us a great deal not only about the malleability of political space but also the processes that account for its formation and transformation. Recalling the two dimensions of political space that I developed in earlier work – the relative size of the political domain and the relative concentration of sovereign authority within that domain – I will describe and account for a wide variety of political spaces within which religious differences were accommodated in early modern Europe. These spaces varied enormously both in terms of their size – from the shared space of a church to the divided space of a kingdom – and the nature of the political compromises they entailed – from the granting of exceptional privileges to the acquisition of essential parity. In the context of widespread religious polarization and conflict, the processes by which Europeans fashioned a variety of the spaces for religious difference were necessarily “political” in the sense that the contentious issues regarding theological belief and ritual practice engaged the complex relations between political and religious authorities and their nominal subjects at the same time as they gave rise to new claims to cultural and political sovereignty.


Suggested Reading:

Head, Randolph. “Fragmented Dominion, Fragmented Churches: Creating Secular and Spiritual Institutions in the Turgau, 1460–1600.” Archiv Für Reformationsgeschichte (forthcoming).

Kaplan, Benjamin J. “Fictions of Privacy: House Chapels and the Spatial Accommodation of Religious Dissent in Early Modern Europe.” American Historical Review 107 (2002): 1031–64.

Schilling, Heinz. “Confessional Europe.” Visions, Programs and Outcomes. Ed. Thomas A. Brady, Heiko A. Oberman, and James D. Tracy. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995. Vol. 2 of Handbook of European History, 1400–1600. 641–81.

Schindling, Anton. “Neighbours of a Different Faith: Confessional Coexistence and Parity in the Territorial States and Towns of the Empire.” Politics, Religion, Law and Society. Ed. Klaus Bussmann and Heinz Schilling. Münster/Osnabrück: Veranstaltungsgesellschaft 350 Jahre Westfälischer Friede, 1998. Vol. 1 of 1648: War and Peace in Europe. 465–73.

Te Brake, Wayne. Shaping History: Ordinary People in European Politics, 1500–1700. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1998.

Whelan, Ruth and Carol Baxter, eds. Toleration and Religious Identity: The Edict of Nantes and Its Implications in France, Britain and Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003.