in The Reformation

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780199231317
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191777066 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions


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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
  • History of Christianity


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‘Culture’ explores the cultural effect of the Reformation. Luther saw the didactic and decorative purpose of art in churches and Bibles, whilst Calvin and Zwingli were iconoclastic, purging imagery from worship. The Catholic Reformation reaffirmed the value of salvific imagery in churches, mission and confessional militancy. Protestant restriction of religious imagery redirected artistic production toward portraiture, landscape and history painting, slowly separating art from religion. Reformation hymns and metrical psalms introduced congregational singing, and Catholic masses became more ornate. The Reformation shaped popular culture in many ways. Protestantism was a spur to literacy and literature, and the theatre developed from its original use as an instructional format.

Keywords: Theodore Beza; Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio; Catholic Reformation; Jan van Eyck; Matthias Grünewald; Holy Roman Empire; literacy; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; Theatre; Council of Trent; Rogier van der Weyden

Chapter.  4800 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; History of Christianity

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