Living with Religious Diversity in Early Modern Europe

By Brady, Thomas A. | The Catholic Historical Review, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Living with Religious Diversity in Early Modern Europe


Brady, Thomas A., The Catholic Historical Review


Living with Religious Diversity in Early Modern Europe. Edited by C. Scott Dixon, Dagmar Freist, and Mark Greengrass. [St Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 2009. Pp. xiv; 301. $114.95. ISBN 978-0-754-66668-4.)

This well-made volume contributes to current critiques of early-modern Europe: the age of confessionalization and the rise of toleration. As generalized in the very good introduction by C. Scott Dixon, it aims to understand how religious culture was fashioned less through orthodoxy, discipline, and command than through negotiation, adaptation, and resistance.

The main weight of the volume lies in the Netherlands and the German lands. A masterful overview by Willem Frijhoff ends with the insight that the secularization of eighteenth-century Dutch public life laid foundations for reconfessionalization of religious groups in the nineteenth century (largely true also of post-Napoleonic Germany). It is followed by Wayne te Brake's study of the culture and geography of secrecy and dissimulation that protected such minorities as Calvinists in Catholic Flanders, Irish Catholics in conquered Wexford, and Anabaptists in the Bernese Emmental and Judith Pollmann's searching exploration of why Dutch Catholics responded to militant Calvinism so much more passively than did French Catholics.

Two chapters treat mixed marriages. One by Dagmar Freist explores a religiously mixed district of the eighteenth-century prince-bishopric of Osnabrück and finds that people learned over time that a detailed marriage contract was their best guarantee against intramarital religious conflict. The other by Benjamin J. Kaplan examines Reformed-Catholic marriages in eighteenth-century South Holland in the late 1730s. …

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