Journal Article

Communal Assertiveness and the Importance of Pastoral Care: Flooding and Parochial Reorganization on the German North Sea Coast in the Seventeenth Century

Matthias Range

in German History

Volume 30, issue 1, pages 22-44
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ghr122
Communal Assertiveness and the Importance of Pastoral Care: Flooding and Parochial Reorganization on the German North Sea Coast in the Seventeenth Century

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Based on the example of drastic landscape changes caused by flooding on the German North Sea coast, this article examines the details of parochial reorganization in the seventeenth century. It presents a wide range of newly discovered material from archives in the region of Schleswig. Several well-documented case-studies from the area provide the basis for discussing the important topics that come with such a reorganization of the religious landscape due to flood destruction. These details illustrate the workings of the ecclesiastical structures in early modern Germany. The main topics covered are the accessibility of churches and the financial aspects of parish reorganization, the latter pointing to the twofold role of the parish as both an ecclesiastical and a secular administrative unit. Moreover, the cases in this region provide examples of the overall approach to religion in early modern society. It emerges that, custom and legal requirements notwithstanding, people considered it important and desirable to have a ready access to a place of worship. In this context, parishioners’ decided advocacy of parochial rights is interpreted as an expression of the Lutheran idea of parochial self-government.

Keywords: parish church; flooding; North Sea; islands; early modern; pastoral care; Reformation; landscape changes

Journal Article.  11866 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European History

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