Religion and the military in the Holy Roman Empire c.1500-1650

Funke, Nikolas Maximilian (2012) Religion and the military in the Holy Roman Empire c.1500-1650. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This study is the first in-depth examination of military religiosity in the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th and early 17th century. Despite a lack of research into military
religious sensibilities historians have uncritically repeated a contemporary stereotype that branded soldiers as ‘un-Christian’. The study argues that soldiers were not
religiously deviant but that their spirituality differed little from that of their contemporaries. However, one aspect of post-Reformation culture, confessional thinking, was noticeably absent in the military, both structurally and in everyday life.These latitudinarian attitudes were fostered by warlords, as is reflected in martial law, and become evident in military diaries as well as the conduct of warfare in the period. The occurrence of military religious violence does not detract from this general atmosphere of ‘toleration’. Instances of confessional violence have to be considered exceptional given the predominantly unproblematic coexistence of adherents of different confessions within the military and daily encounters with populations of all creeds. An examination of attitudes towards dying, death and burial shows that, while the importance of dying well according to the ars moriendi was recognized in the military, the reality of soldier life made orderly deaths frequently impossible. Soldiers’ religious attitudes were therefore in some ways more pragmatic than those of the civilian population but soldiers of all denominations shared universal Christian norms, a finding that fundamentally challenges previous negative estimations regarding military religiosity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DAW History of Central Europe
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2012 07:49
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39561

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