Jedność i różnorodność Europy we wczesnej epoce nowożytnej : religia – społeczeństwo – państwo

Schilling, Heinz GND

The book contains Polish translations of seven essays by Heinz Schilling on 16th-century reforms of Christianity and their influence on emerging cultural and political divisions in Europe, as well as on the acceptance of confessional diversity, interfaith dialogue and the principle of tolerance.

The first essay is devoted to the state and church policies of Charles V. The author begins with presenting two key events for the reign of Charles V. The first is the Diet of Worms in 1521, a site of conflict between Charles V of Habsburg and Martin Luther, whose Theses opened a new era in the history of Europe. It was a clash of personalities—formed differently and coming from two different worlds—as well as of two different and completely contradictory expectations. The author portrays Charles V as a man committed to tradition and the Church who wished to force Luther to withdraw from his views as soon as possible, so that he could focus on introducing political and spiritual peace in Europe, which for him equaled with introducing the universal rule of the Emperor. Meanwhile, Luther and his supporters wanted to convince the Emperor, the lay leader of the Christian world, to pressure Rome into introducing their proposed reforms.

The second event crucial from Charles’ perspective happened in 1547 in Saxony, when the imperial army defeated the army of the Schmalkaldic League during its first assault. The religious and eschatological aspect of this victory over the Protestants was quite visible in the Emperor’s consciousness as well as in later propaganda.

Schilling devotes much attention to analyzing the Emperor’s religiousness. The only available information on the matter was found in letters and documents left by Charles V and in isolated and rare reports and testimonies. Not much is known about the influence of religion on Charles V during his childhood. His religiousness had certainly formed before Luther’s reveal of his 95 theses and was inclined towards the strict fulfillment of church commandments. His upbringing had an enormous impact on his later efforts to usher in a spiritual and political renewal and to rebuild the Christian world. Such constant and deeply rooted views made it impossible for Charles V to abandon his principles, which made him mentally and spiritually incapable of comprehending the religious situation in the 1520s and of adjusting his actions accordingly.

In the next part Schilling focuses on Charles’ religious policy. His actions towards Luther and his supporters failed to unite Europe, which was his main goal. Instead, they effectively reinforced divisions and provided new reasons for its disintegration. The author also mentions Charles’ struggles in his conflicts with the Turks and his attempts at sustaining unity in areas outside of immediate Habsburg authority.

The second essay discusses Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the main humanists of the Renaissance period. His views on the events of the time were quite close to these of Charles V. Just like the Emperor, he saw Christianity as a unity in its ideal, political and social sense. According to him, any antagonisms and particularisms within Christianity led to unnecessary divisions. Erasmus did not perceive the divisions into particular structures which had formed along the borders of counties and influences long before Martin Luther posted his Theses. His views and his slightly idealized concept of Christian unity prevented him from understanding the political reality and its governing principles, which made his outlook slightly anachronistic and his ideal impossible to realize.

The third chapter deals with the phenomenon of confessionalization, that is the emergence of divisions between confessions. The text focuses on two centuries, between 1450 and 1650, and limits to the area of Latin Christianity—which was Roman Catholic at first, and later multi-denominational—which is described by the author as “Latin Europe,” a type of civilization. It was a time of great transformations in church and religious issues, cultural and mental notions, the ideas of statehood, politics and society. Confessionalization is, therefore, much more than the emergence of new confessions and modern Churches as institutions. It is a far-reaching process that completely transformed the public and private life of Europe, impacting the formation of modern states and disciplined societies at the same time. From the second half of the 16th century, confessionalization played the role of a modernizing factor in all areas of public and private life. The period is the only time when such dramatic and crucial changes occurred in the history of Latin Christianity. Religious wars were also an inseparable element of the process, fuelling the formation and modernization processes in religion and politics. Another consequence of confessionalization were the changes in spheres such as education, marriage, family, upbringing, the role of women and the public sphere, it also ushered in new forms in people’s thinking, emotions and behavior. The author describes the influence of confessionalization on the evolution of the society of Latin Europe in a general sense, detailing key processes and transformations and emphasizing the fact that the process is extremely complex and constitutes a diverse field of research.

In the forth chapter Schilling discusses two religious treaties from 1555 and 1649 from the perspective of acceptance for diversity and evolution of the problem of religion in Europe in direct reference to the present and the future. The author describes the situation of German states, focusing on the reaction of the Reich to the diversity of religions and churches that emerged after the Reformation and confessionalization.

The author concludes that the decisions of the peace treaty of 1555 were reduced to means of winning additional benefits for individual denominations. He assesses the peace as an archaic, outdated and not necessarily beneficial compromise. For a generation which entered maturity at that time in Germany, religion had always been closely related to politics, and was linked to acquiring greater political, legal and territorial gains and expanding power. This ambivalent situation means that religious peace and the acceptance of religious diversity were, in reality, two separate issues. And although the Peace of Augsburg was never revoked, it most certainly failed. The willingness to coexist peacefully began to fade, and the process of confessionalization was growing in strength. With the new generation gaining power (1570-1585), the drive towards compromise was abandoned and a new system of power and influence emerged that aimed at excluding other denominations. This transformation also took place at the very top when Maximilian II died and was succeeded by Rudolf II. The Holy See, which initially did not protest against the religious peace of 1555, decided to reexamine the issue. The established peace crumbled at the beginning of the 17th century as the result of the tensions caused by the belief held by the representatives of each of the denominations that they in fact were in possession of the absolute truth—which, in long term perspective, made it impossible for them to accept and understand the views of other confessions. Peace was renewed in 1648 with a treaty which this time turned out to be more durable and more detailed in its decisions. It also managed to construct quite a clear division between political and religious issues. Society also changed, becoming more secularized and tolerant. Religiousness was no longer perceived as the unity within the national community. However, the decisions of the treaty addressed only three denominations—Protestantism, Calvinism and Catholicism—so it still remained far from the modern pluralism of worldviews. In the conclusion, the author proposes that Germany still recognizes its special obligations towards churches and religious communities that are rooted in history and grants privileges to Christian churches by recognizing their legal entity.

The fifth chapter focuses on cultural exchanges and international relations in Central and Eastern Europe in 14th-17th centuries and is divided into two parts. The first presents a historiographic outline of the role and function of religion in the history of old Europe, with special emphasis on its mid-16th-century confessional form. The author starts with the assumption that the Reformation period and, to some extent, the Middle Ages can be perceived as s social system in which the Church and religion serve as the foundation of the social structure and an element crucial for the functioning of political and social life. That is why a thorough analysis of the structure of Europe and its characteristic transformations in that period is impossible without the inclusion of religious transformations as one of primary categories of historical studies. This approach resulted in many monographic studies being published in the 1980s and 1990s which focused on the history of Churches and confessions and included the perspective of social history. Next, there was the process of secularization during which church and state structures still interlocked. The author points to the fact that the concept according to which the Reformation constituted a breakthrough in general history is mainly rooted in the assumptions of Protestants and 19th-century German historiography. He also claims that the view that modernity emerged from the Reformation is a thoroughly German outlook. Studies show that the beginnings and the acceleration of transformations did not coincide with the Reformation period, but rather happened in the period after 1550, especially in the decades before and after the year 1600. Schilling concludes the first part with a discussion of confessionalization as modernization. He portrays it as a process of fundamental social change which engulfed all aspects of public and private life, including religion, the Church, mentality and culture, and transformations in states, policies and societies.

In the second part of the text, the author focuses on the impact these transformations had on the relations between religions and confessions, presenting Jan Łaski as an example. He begins with the statement that homogenous worldview systems formed in nations and cultures as a result of the confessionalization process which gave rise to the division between “us” and “them.” Secondly, he argues that transformations occurred at various times in individual regions of Europe and differed in their contents. The author pays much attention to Jan Łaski and the impact of these cultural and religious changes on his worldview.

In the seventh chapter the author presents two contrasting stances while introducing the reader to the evolution of research into the concept of discipline. He also explains the success of the concept in the 1970s and 1980s as well as the grounds for its criticism. He emphasizes the importance of the studies of the concept of discipline from the macro- and microhistorical perspective and of the way they complemented each other, which influenced the full and accurate understanding of the concept. A substantial part of the article is devoted to the discussion of Heinrich Richard Schmidt’s publication on Evangelical Reformed moral discipline in rural Berne communities in the early modern period. Schilling’s main objective is to see if and how the author of the publication applies the strategy of the dual macro- and microhistorical perspective, and, more precisely, if he limits his attention to the general process or includes the process within the social base and the object of discipline itself. The author is especially intrigued by three aspects of the book, namely the wide presentation of the subject, the monographic research into the rural communities (i.e. the Swiss villages of Vehingen and Stettlen), and the subject in typological perspective, as the analyzed rural discipline was introduced by the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church, which means that church discipline was closely tied to general moral discipline. As a consequence, monetary fines were often imposed instead of church penances. Schilling also pays much attention to discussing discipline in two specific areas: sexuality and marriage.

The last text in this collection of essays focuses on the general and historical connection between the internal formation of European countries and the intensification and institutionalization of their international relations, as well as their transformation into a system of international, European, and later world powers.

In the first part, the author focuses on structural and processual links. He begins with describing two key tendencies in the state-forming process. The first one is the emergence of the highest state authority which widens the scope of its power within the country. More precisely, it is the formation of internal structures and the concentration of power in the hands of the state, namely the monarch or a republican government. As a result of the process, all aspects of foreign policy are monopolized. The author claims that a state cannot exist without the monopolization of foreign affairs. The second tendency is territorial expansion.

In the second part the author presents a number of examples on how the history of the formulation of the international system (with special attention paid to the state-forming process and the changing forms of the state in the early modern period) should be studied and described while basing on specific methodological and theoretical premises.

Autor w siedmiu rozprawach przedstawia wpływ szesnastowiecznych reform chrześcijaństwa na wykształcenie się długotrwałych podziałów w kulturze i polityce europejskiej oraz postaw akceptacji zróżnicowania religijnego, dialogu międzywyznaniowego i zasad tolerancji. Każda z rozpraw jest próbą odpowiedzi na pytanie: w jaki sposób wczesnonowożytne procesy podziałów wyznaniowych i prób ich przezwyciężenia nadały kształt życiu politycznemu, religijnemu i kulturalnemu Europy oraz jak zrodziły się wartości takie jak dialog, kompromis i tolerancja.


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