Event—Center for Renaissance Studies

European Wars of Religion, 1550s-1650s

Brian Sandberg, Northern Illinois University

Brian Sandberg, Northern Illinois University

Brian Sandberg, Northern Illinois University

European Wars of Religion will be a journey into the excitement, division, chaos, and horror of religious reform and civil violence during the Wars of Religion in early modern Europe. The course will focus on cultural and social aspects of religious and civil conflict during the German Peasants’ Revolt, Dutch Revolt, French Wars of Religion, Thirty Years’ War, and British Civil Wars. Graduate students will explore the religious conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the experiences of the people who lived through them.

Participants in the seminar will confront various faces of religious violence, from iconoclasm and book burning to executions of heretics and religious massacres. We will explore the motivations and explanations for religious violence in early modern Europe, as well as the problems of peacemaking during religious conflict. We will consider religious politics and sectarian violence through historical analysis informed by anthropological, sociological, political cultural, and religious studies methodologies. Highlights of the course will include the German Peasants’ War, Schmalkaldic War, Peace of Augsburg, Iconoclastic Fury in the Netherlands, Council of Troubles, Siege of Antwerp, Conspiracy of Amboise, Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Blois Assassinations, Edict of Nantes, Siege of La Rochelle, Defenestration of Prague, Battle of White Mountain, Sack of Magdeburg, Peace of Westphalia, Siege of Colchester, and Beheading of King Charles I.

Graduate students will explore key aspects of religious violence that are vital for understanding intolerance today, such as religious belief, doctrine, religious reform, schism, missionaries, witchcraft, heresy, religious warfare, fanaticism, conversion, atrocities, iconoclasm, church-state relations, theocracy, fundamentalism, religious activism, and sacral violence. The seminar will offer students a chance to consider the difficult questions posed by religious violence outside the charged contexts of religious violence in contemporary societies like Bosnia, Kosovo, Algeria, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. European Wars of Religion should challenge students’ very understandings of religion and their approaches to the practice of history.

Prerequisites: None, although the instructor prefers that students work with texts that they can read in the original language whenever possible.

Learn more about the instructor: Brian Sandberg, Northern Illinois University

Students may take this seminar on a not-for-credit basis or arrange to earn credit at their home campuses. When space permits, consortium faculty members are encouraged to audit Newberry seminars, and graduate students from non-consortium schools may also enroll.

Graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.