Calvinists and Libertines
Confession and Community in Utrecht 1578-1620
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Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 362
Width: 14.6 cm
Height: 22.4 cm
After the Reformation, the Dutch Republic emerged as the most religiously tolerant country in seventeenth-century Europe. Benjamin Kaplan examines the reasons behind this phenomenon, focusing on the struggle of Calvinist reformers to realize their theocratic aspirations in the Netherlands, and the fierce opposition offered to them by a large, amorphous group of people known as `Libertines'. Nowhere was this struggle more intense than in Utrecht, a city at the heart of the Dutch Reformation. The author illuminates the nature of this conflict through a study of the city and people of Utrecht, examing social relations, popular piety, civic culture, and state formation. This urban case-study shows how Dutch religious developments fitted into the wider European framework. Offering a fascinating microcosm of religious tensions in Europe around 1600, Kaplan shows how the Calvinist-Libertine conflict in the Netherlands was in fact a local manifestation of a broader European phenomenon: the struggle between champions and opponents of `confessionalism'. He thus combines a new interpretation of the Dutch Reformation with a presentation that makes this largely unknown phenomenon accessible to students of other countries. As the first case-study in English of the Dutch Reformation, Calvinists and Libertines fills an important gap in our knowledge of Dutch history and in our understanding of the European Reformation as a whole.
"His work sheds light on the famous Remonstrant Controversy of the early 17th century, and on the larger, uniquely Dutch combination of severe, state-supported Calvinism and broad religious toleration."--Choice"Kaplan has produced a fascinating account of the process of confessionalization in Utrecht, a city that has hitherto received little attention from Reformation historians. This work is admirably documented with archival sources and it is well written. The book is an excellent example of the recent trend in Reformation history to combine elements of social, political, and religious history into a coherent whole...this is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the development of the Reformation in the cities."--Sixteenth Century Journal