Season 1 – Episode 2

Food of the Spirit: Diet and the Reformation

Ep. 2 The Impact of Food on the Reformation with Terrence Guy

In 1517 at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, food looked different than what it would be at the end. Looking at the historical value of food at the dawn of the Protestant

Reformation there was clear change, the diets of the people were removed from the control of the Church’s sacred calendar and placed within the context of a new narrative of Christian freedom. The Medieval world of food consumption was regulated and controlled. This was true not only during the Lenten season, or the 40 days before Easter, but also every Friday where meat was forbidden and throughout a host of other Saints Days and Feasts of the Church.

As Reformation fervor grew, so too did a reassessment of the role of food and its regulation in the lives of Christians. Indeed, the impetus behind the Reform of Zurich under Ulrich Zwingli began with the famous “Affair of the Sausages,” a 1522 protest in favor of eating meat during the Lenten fast. This project explores food’s connection to the more familiar themes of Reformation history and discourse, sola fide, sola scriptura, and the power of the institutional Church in the lives of everyday believers. 

About this Item

Title “Calendarium Romanum magnum.”

Contributor Names

Stoeffler, Johann, 1452-1531.

Köbel, Jacob, -1533, printer.

Redgrave, G. R. (Gilbert Richard), 1844-1941, former owner.

Early Printing Collection (Library of Congress)

Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress)

Pforzheimer Bruce Rogers Collection (Library of Congress)

Created / Published

[Oppenheym, Impressum per J. Köbel, 1518]

Subject Headings

–  Calendar–Early works to 1800


Calendarium Romanum magnum.


Primary Sources 

Desiderius Erasmus. The Essential Erasmus ed. John Patrick Dolan. New York: Meridian, 1993

Martin Luther. “On the Freedom of a Christian” in Three Treatises. 2nd Ed.Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1970.

Ulrich Zwingli. “Concerning Choice and Liberty Respecting Food” in Ulrich Zwingli Early Writings. Ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson. Durham, NC: The Labyrinth Press, 1987.

Secondary Sources

David Gentilcore. Food and Health in Early Modern Europe: Diet, Medicine and

Society, 1450-1800. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

 Rachel Laudan. “Birth of the Modern Diet.” Scientific American 283, no. 2 (2000): 76–80.

Elaine Khosrova.Butter: a Rich History. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2017.
Keith D.Stanglin. The Reformation to the Modern Church: a Reader in Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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