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Confessionalism and conversion in the Reformation

Morrissey, M. ORCID: (2015) Confessionalism and conversion in the Reformation. In: Simpson, J. (ed.) Oxford Handbooks Online. Oxford University Press.

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935338.013.73


Recent research on the Reformation has been concerned with the process by which lay people acquired a religious identity, whether it began merely as an act of political obedience or by a sudden ‘conversion’ to new doctrines. Confessional politics made it imperative for rulers to try to control the religious allegiances of their people, but the doctrine of conversion (as a spiritual change) made this theoretically impossible. Instead, a ‘culture of persuasion’ developed by which clerical and secular rulers sought to persuade their people to accept teachings authorized by the state. The possibility of religious dissent, of converting away from the state-sanctioned denomination, made conversion an issue whose importance was far greater than the actual number of converts. The study of confessionalism and conversion emphasises two theses fundamental to Reformation studies: that the era produced radical changes in the ways that people thought about their personal and communal identities, and that it made individuals’ religious choices the urgent concern of their governors.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:40746
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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