The Established Church

Nigel Aston

in The Oxford Handbook of the Ancien Régime

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199291205
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Established Church

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Ancien Régime Europe had an ineradicably Christian character that was publicly embodied and expressed in its established churches. It was and remained a divided continent confessionally after the Peace of Westphalia (1648) with the churches of the Reformation established (sometimes precariously) in Scandinavia, Britain, Switzerland, much of Germany, and parts of eastern Europe; Roman Catholicism predominated elsewhere except within Russia and inside the Ottoman Empire where various forms of Orthodoxy were the primary form of Christian expression. Irrespective of confessional variations, every European state c .1700 exhibited and upheld an established church, at once a fundamental component and final sanction of its institutional life. The concept of establishment found different legal expression from state to state, from a kingdom the size of France to the tiny principalities of Protestant Germany and the Swiss cantons, and it was not necessarily the confession of the majority population, as the instances of early modern Ireland and Bohemia indicate.

Keywords: Ancien Régime Europe; established churches; churches of the Reformation; Orthodoxy; Christian expression; Ottoman Empire

Article.  8616 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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