New publication: „Biographies of the Reformation“

A new book by Martin Christ, Junior Fellow at the Max Weber College of the University of Erfurt, has now been published by Oxford University Press in the series „Studies in German History“. It is entitled „Biographies of the Reformation: Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, 1520-1635“.

In 288 pages, the book provides a new narrative of the Reformation and shows that the concept of the „urban Reformation“, in which cities are seen as centres of Lutheranism, needs to be reassessed, especially in cities in East Germany. It shows that in a region like Upper Lusatia, which did not have a political centre and underwent a complex Reformation with many different actors, there was no clear confessionalization. By approaching the Upper Lusatian Reformation through important individuals, Martin Christ shows how they had to negotiate their religiosity, resulting in cross-confessional exchange and syncretism.

The Society for Renaissance Studies invites all interested parties to an online presentation of Martin Christ’s book on 1 June at 7 pm. Please register at

Martin Christ
Biographies of a Reformation. Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, 1520-1635
(series: Studies in German History)
Oxford University Press, 2021
ISBN 978-0-19-886815-6
288 pages

Francesca Fulminante presents a working paper ‚From heterarchies to hierarchies: the role of religion at the birth of first cities and state organization in central Italy (1100-500 bc)‘

Between the 10th and the 5th century BC Italian populations underwent radical changes in the social, political and ethnic organization which led from the mainly „egalitarian“ communities of the dispersed villages of the Bronze Age, to the „hierarchical“ and „centralised“ societies of the Archaic cities. Many scholars have contributed to delineate this trajectory by looking at various aspects of the social structure, production, economy but probably the religious aspect has been less intensively investigated, apart the emphasis posed by Alessandro Guidi on early urban cult places, preceding the monumental realization of the temples of the Archaic Period, especially in Latium vetus. Connecting to Polignac, Lefevre and Bourdie and by taking Rupke’s concept of religion as active agent of urbanity, the project seeks to explore the specific role of religion in the creation of the first cities in Western Europe. Transition from more heterarchical so. At the core of the project is the following questions: 1) is it the city which contributes to the rise of the sanctuary, or the sanctuary, which contributes to the rise of local cities? 2) Which is the role of religion in the shift from more heterarchical to hierarchical organizations? The project will answer these question by analyzing cult places in the wider network of central Italian transportation communication system and by comparing their reciprocal position and role within the system as compared to other types of settlements (domestic, functional, funerary etc.). This will allow to elaborate on the role and significance of the various spaces of ritual performance within the societies involved and eventually verify of Polignac’s model is applicable to central Italy as well.

Simone Wagner presents a working paper on ‚A common History? About the Relation between Collegiate Churches and Cities‘

Superiors of collegiate churches often refered to origin stories in order to gain more authority in conflicts. Aside from arguing with highly symbolical charters of origin they often fashioned themselves as representatives of saints having founded the religious communities. Often such speech acts were embedded in a broader hagiohistorigraphical tradition. While collegiate churches and cities were often constructed as seperate entities their history was depicted as a shared one. A shared history was constructed by creating saints as integrative figures between city and collegiate church as well as linking the foundation of the cities to religious superiors. Historiography of the canons/the canonesses and the citizens could heavily influence each other without necessarily creating a collective identity. It seems that especially imperial cities contested the canon*esses‘ view of the past. However, saints worked less well as integration figures in cities with a more complex infrasctructure of parishes and their relics.