Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Between Opposition and Collaboration: Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555-1619

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Between Opposition and Collaboration: Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555-1619

Article excerpt

Between Opposition and Collaboration: Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555-1619. By Richard J. Ninness. [Studies in Central European Histories, Vol. IUI.] (Leiden: Brill. 2011. Pp. xiv, 224. $136.00. ISBN 978-9-004-20154-5.)

In his great history of the popes, Leopold von Ranke noted that the princebishops of Franconia proved powerless to hold back the spread of the Reformation. Not only were their parishes full of Lutheran preachers, but the nobility, the magistrates, the burgers, the mass of the subject populationeven the episcopal authorities- gave over to the faith. Only those with "old German and Franconian fidelity," Ranke suggested, had any remaining reverence for the bishops in their vestments and mitres. In Between Opposition and Collaboration, Richard J. Ninness revisits this issue, and in particular the observation that even the episcopal authorities should be counted among the supporters of the Lutheran religion. By way of a meticulous, archive-based study of the cathedral chapter of Bamberg and some of the higher offices of the diocese, Ninness reveals the inner workings of the prince-bishopric during the age of confessionalization. Indeed, the concept of confessionalization has an important ordering function in this study, for one of the main aims of the work is to add complexity and nuance to the rather one-dimensional image of the confessionalization process, particularly in the Catholic princebishoprics. Most studies tend to emphasize the conflictual character of the process and the sharp divisions that occurred as a result of religious change. In contrast, the perspective adopted by Ninness sets out to'... challenge at least the blanket validity of this position and argue for a more nuanced approach toward and a sensitivity to the variability of relations among the religious confessions" (p. 12). What is particularly fascinating about Between Opposition and Collaboration is that the confessional groupings under investigation are sharing the same offices of rule in the prince-bishopric of Bamberg.

The study begins with a historical backgrounding of the cathedral chapter itself, where it quickly becomes clear that it was essentially an aristocratic republic monopolized by the imperial knights and held together by "nepotism, cronyism, and exclusive cliquishness" (p. 41). With this as a foundation, the analysis then moves through the various stages of confessional change from the Reformation and the different phases of the Counter-Reformation. …

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