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This volume honors the work of a scholar who has been active in the field of early modern history for over four decades. In that time, Susan Karant-Nunn’s work challenged established orthodoxies, pushed the envelope of historical genres, and opened up new avenues of research and understanding, which came to define the contours of the field itself. Like this rich career, the chapters in this volume cover a broad range of historical genres from social, cultural and art history, to the history of gender, masculinity, and emotion, and range geographically from the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Netherlands, to Geneva and Austria. Based on a vast array of archival and secondary sources, the contributions open up new horizons of research and commentary on all aspects of early modern life.

The contributors are: James Blakeley, Robert J. Christman, Victoria Christman, Amy Nelson Burnett, Pia Cuneo, Ute Lotz-Heumann, Amy Newhouse, Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, Helmut Puff, Lyndal Roper, Karen E. Spierling, James D. Tracy, Mara R. Wade, David Whitford, and Charles Zika
Author: Amy Newhouse

Abstract

This chapter investigates the complex value of cloth goods used to care for diseased bodies in sixteenth-century Nuremberg. Clothes provided physically adaptive barriers against the malodorous emanations of leprosy, plague, and syphilis victims. Authorities viewed the odiferous bodies of the sick not only as unseemly, but they believed that their foul smells violated city airs with disease-producing miasma. The solution of cloth materials, however, proved to be problematic because the fabrics became soiled with human odors. Therefore, the absorbent, transferable, and portable material properties of cloth meant that unsuspecting or malicious city inhabitants disseminated the miasmic odors of the diseased bodies as they used, washed, and traded contaminated fabrics within the city. Beleaguered city leaders designated city spaces and personnel to neutralize the threat of even the smallest piece of clothing or bandaging. This study reveals how Nuremberg’s leaders were in a continuous process of solving physical problems which emerged in the course of city life. They not only needed spaces and materials to care for the diseased, but they also required places and procedures to cleanse the materials used for that care. Ultimately, it was this reactive adaptation of city space that shaped the use of landscape and fashioned daily life in the city.

In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
Author: James Tracy

Abstract

Under the staunchly Catholic Austrian Habsburgs, David Ungnad (d. 1603) served as both a high government official and a Lutheran lay leader. At a time when Lutheran aristocrats like Ungnad dominated the provincial estates, Emperor Maximilian II chose Ungnad as his ambassador to the Ottoman court (1573–78). In 1576, on orders from Vienna, he sent a long circular letter to the Austrian estates. Hoping to gain their approval of higher taxes for border defense, he explained the current circumstances that precluded other possible means of protecting the border. This essay explores what Ungnad said, as it were, between the lines, speaking as a Lutheran to a largely Lutheran audience. He argued that Maximilian was not to blame for his failure to win the elective crown of Poland-Lithuania, a multi-confessional state. As a warning to true Christians in the West, he pointed to the “collapse” of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, where Church offices were sold to the highest bidder by Ottoman officials. In other words, the Habsburg body politic that afforded only limited autonomy to Lutherans was nonetheless worth fighting for. Ungnad was a true Lutheran politique, rarely discussed by contemporaries but of vital importance behind the scenes.

In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe

Abstract

Although scholars have begun exploring aging for women in early modern Europe, what this phase of life meant for nuns and former nuns after the early Reformation has not yet been researched. This chapter examines the petitions sent to sequestration officials in electoral Saxony by women facing poverty due to widowhood, disability, or inability to care for their children or themselves from the 1530s through the 1570s. Most women writing such letters detailed specific moments in their lives after the reform of convents as a rhetorical strategy to get or increase financial assistance from the elector. One striking aspect of these petitions is that although the life path of women who remained in the convent and those who left diverged immediately after the Reformation, ultimately all the women experienced significant hardships and financial insecurity as they aged. Most of the women, whether or not they left the convent, detailed the lack of support from family, local communities, and regional communities to assist them when needed. In these instances, many of the women inside and outside of the convent turned to their previous convent community to share information on how to get additional aid.

In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
Author: Charles Zika

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to build on recent insights into the centrality of compassion in late medieval and early modern European culture by exploring the visual evidence for its influence on regulations concerning capital punishment and concern for the spiritual welfare of those condemned to death. The focus is on images of contemporary execution and of the Crucifixion of Christ on Calvary, the model for any Christian condemned to death. Images of contemporary execution reflect growing concerns and practices, such as the provision of comforters to minister to the condemned in the days leading up to their deaths, as well as the availability of confession and communion to facilitate a “good death.” Representations of the Crucifixion in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries increasingly show Calvary as an execution site with gallows, wheels and crosses. Depictions of the Way of the Cross in the sixteenth century also begin to mirror the contemporary processions of criminals to their deaths, frequently showing the two thieves with their clerical comforters, whose role it was to show their charges Christian compassion in order to ensure their penitence and ultimate salvation by reflecting on Christ’s passion and the penitence of the good thief, Dismas.

In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe

Abstract

Saints occupied a prominent position in pre-Reformation Christianity and post-Reformation Catholicism, and Protestant Reformers attempted to revise common attitudes towards and treatment of these holy dead. The widespread belief in ghosts complicated such efforts because it reinforced ideas about the permeability between heaven and earth and the enduring bonds between the living and the dead. Given these complications, the separation of ghosts from Protestantism was more gradual than programmatic texts would suggest. This article uses vernacular French treatises from the second half of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by authors such as Noel Taillepied, Pierre Le Loyer, and Pierre de Lancre to describe traditional beliefs about saints and ghosts. In the process it demonstrates that saints and ghosts existed in Catholic France as part of a continuum of belief that provided a Christian framework for spiritual beings more generally. When Protestant Reformers condemned the intercessory system, of which saints were a central part and from which some ghosts benefitted, they also attacked this continuum. The pervasiveness and interrelationship of such beliefs and the difficulty in untangling them is one reason that belief in ghosts endured among both Protestants and Catholics alike.

In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe
In: Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe