Queen Jeanne III of Navarre was deeply involved in the spread of the reformation in France. She was a member by marriage of the Bourbon family, the primary leaders of the protestant Huguenot faction in the Wars of Religion. Throughout her life she worked to legitimize their cause by strengthening their ties to the crown. Yet, hers was not a political faith but a firm trust built on study and conviction
Bainton, Roland Herbert. Women of the Reformation in France and England. Minneapolis : Augsburg Publishing House, 1973.
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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