Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914

Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914

Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914

Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914

Synopsis

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were regarded in many western countries as a time of religious crisis. This was generally believed to be most acute in cities and especially among the working class. This book focuses on working class religion in three of the world's greatest cities in this period of crisis. One of the most important matters at issue in the debate is that of the relationship between secularisation and urbanisation.

Excerpt

Berlin grew up in the shadow of the Royal Palace. the Schloss stood right in the middle of the city on the Spree Island, opposite the cathedral, and within sight of City Hall. and the dominant position which it enjoyed in the city's topography accurately reflected the dominant influence over the city's life which the Hohenzollern dynasty exercised until the nineteenth century, and which continued in somewhat attenuated form even when Berlin had become a commercial, industrial and cultural metropolis in its own right.

In 1680 Berlin had a population of only 10,000. It then began to grow very rapidly, reaching 72,000 in 1730, 172,000 in 1800, 450,000 (inclusive of suburbs) in 1848, 900,000 (with suburbs) in 1871, and slightly under 4 million in 1920, when the suburbs were linked with the old city to make Greater Berlin. the Great Elector started the Hohenzollerns on the path that led to the triumphs of 1815 and 1871 and ultimately to the catastrophe of 1918. the city's rapid growth began in his reign (1640-88), and he left the city three important legacies that continued for many years afterwards to give Berlin something of its distinctive personality: ethnic and religious diversity, toleration and a strong military presence. the late seventeenth century brought to Berlin 'the Colony' (of French Huguenots), smaller settlements of Bohemians and of south German Catholics, and (of even greater long-term significance) the Jews, who remained until the 1940s a vital element in the city's life. the military were a very visible feature throughout the eighteenth century, and in 1803, soldiers and their dependents still made up 14 per cent of the population. With the growth of the 'residence' into the 'metropolis' during the nineteenth century, the proportion of soldiers fell substantially, but barracks and parade grounds continued to occupy large areas, and army officers continued to form an important element in the city's elite. Under Frederick the Great (1740‐ 86), Berlin's tradition of religious toleration acquired a new twist, as the city became an important centre of the German Enlightenment, and one with a reputa-

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