Journal Article

Church, Space and Conflict: Religious Co-Existence and Political Communication in Seventeenth-Century Switzerland

Daniela Hacke

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 285-312
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0266355407079904
Church, Space and Conflict: Religious Co-Existence and Political Communication in Seventeenth-Century Switzerland

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This article sets out to explore how a local quarrel in the Grafschaft of Baden, a bi-confessional Swiss county, occasioned by efforts to install a separate font for Protestant parishioners, activated larger constitutional and confessional tensions between the Catholic and Protestant cantons of the Swiss Confederation. The article reconstructs the lengthy political negotiations caused by the rearrangement of church space since the Landfrieden of 1531: this treaty had enshrined bi-confessionalism in the Swiss Confederation and had established the duties and rights of both confessions, although to the disadvantage of the Reformed Protestants. It had also transformed the consecrated space of the church into a stage for political action by the cantons. From 1531 onwards, changes in religious belief and observance were subject to the will of the supreme governing authority. The article shows that local conflicts over the arrangement and furnishing of certain church spaces can give us fascinating insights into political practice, the establishment of social order and the handling of denominational differences within the Swiss Confederation. It attempts to contribute to our understanding of early modern political history by using concepts from cultural history and communication theory in which politics is closely linked to social and confessional processes generating meaning and order.

Keywords: Swiss Confederation; cultural history of politics; religious co-existence; sacred/liturgical space; church conflict; political communication

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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