The Age of Confessional Division, 1550-1618

The Age of Confessional
Division, 1550-1618
The West
The Population Recovery
• Consistent population growth, after 1480
• Permanent shift in demographic and
economic power, from Mediterranean to
northwest Europe
• Shift from subsistence farming to
commercial agriculture fueled population
and economic growth
The Prosperous Villages
• Decline of serfdom created relative
economic freedom for peasantry
• Successful
depended upon a free labor supply, access
to capital, and proximity to markets
• Growth of rural population created a new
underclass of vagabonds
The Regulated Cities
• Cities grew, due to migration from country
• Dramatic social and economic divisions
• Increasing regulation of social and
economic life by urban governments
• Expansion of charity and welfare
The Price Revolution
• Population growth led to demand
outstripping supply, especially for essentials
• Prices multiplied by five- or six-fold
• Real wages declined, and fixed incomes and
government revenues were eroded
• Influx of gold and silver from colonies and
debasement of currencies encouraged
Establishing Confessional
• Promotion of distinct confessional institutions,
beliefs, behaviors and cultures
• Union between political and religious authorities development of state religion
• Clerical disciplining of non-conformity
• Catholic ritual identity depended upon a repertoire
of gestures
• Protestant ritual identity depended upon a
demonstration of sociability
Policing the Family
• The patriarchal ideal served the needs of
church and state - the authority of a husband
and father reflected that of king and clergy
• Evolution of a new type of family - smaller,
physically and economically independent
• Development of new attitude towards
children - greater emphasis on education,
welfare and discipline
Suppressing Popular Culture
• Reformation or abolition of non-Christian
practices in European culture
• Active promotion of reformed religious
practices and values
• Broadening of the cultural gap between the
élite and the broad mass of society
Hunting Witches
• Intensification of persecution of alleged witches
• The logic of witchcraft beliefs implied that a bad
ending was caused by bad intentions
• Belief in diabolism helped explain events that
could not be understood
• Ca. 100,000 people were accused of witchcraft
and around half of them were executed
• Ca. 80 percent of accused witches were women
The Confessional States
• Fundamental principle of rulership - one
king, one faith, one law
• Presence of a significant religious minority
in a state led to tension, suspicion and even
civil war
• Emergence of religious fanaticism fueled
political assassinations and massacres
The French Wars of Religion
and the Dutch Revolt
• Conflicts bred from competition for political
power, between religious rivals
• Development of an international Protestant
alliance between Dutch rebels, French Huguenots
and the English
• French instability allowed Spain to become the
dominant power in Europe
• Dutch Revolt strained the military and economic
resources of Spain to breaking point
Literature in the Age of
Confessional Division
• Vernacular languages replaced Latin as literary
• Political and religious turmoil prompted
questioning about humanity and the meaning of
• Remarkable period of literary creativity - Spanish
Golden Age and Elizabethan Renaissance
The Dream World of Emperor
• Pressure of maintaining the ideal of a
universal empire, in the face of political and
religious instability
• Rudolf II (r.1576-1612) created a fantasy of
unity at his court in Prague
• Lack of firm control from the emperor
exacerbated religious conflicts within the
The Renaissance of PolandLithuania
• Power of nobility had encouraged religious
• Cultural and commercial contacts with Italy
enhanced the appeal of Catholicism
• In the decentralized political system, the
Catholic Church provided a unifying
institution and culture
The Development of Imperial
• Dukes of Moscow became the tsars of Russia,
creating an authoritarian state
• Imitation of Byzantine style and assertion of
continuity with Imperial Rome
• Ivan IV (1533-1584) weakened power of nobility
and ruled through terror
• Romanov dynasty, in 1613, founded after chaos
of early seventeenth century
The Divisions of the West
• Demographic and economic pressures
eroded confidence and security
• Emergence of confessional states, based
upon a union of political and religious
• Division of the West into religiously driven
national camps
• Development of political alliances, based
upon common beliefs