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Journal > Volumes > 48 (2017) / 2 (Summer)
Reawakening the “Old Evangelical Zeal”: The 1617 Reformation Jubilee and Collective Memory in Strasbourg and Ulm
Christopher W. Close
Saint Joseph’s University

In November 1617, Protestants across the Holy Roman Empire commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Traditionally, scholars have argued that a unity of message marked the first official centennial celebration in modern Western history. Equally important, however, were variations in the structure of Reformation Jubilee commemorations, which authorities used to address specific local concerns. In Strasbourg, officials responded to the spread of Tridentine reform in surrounding territories by organizing a festival centered on anti-Catholic polemics. Their Jubilee emphasized the citizenry’s need to resist Catholicism as their forefathers had done one hundred years earlier. By contrast, Ulm’s Jubilee portrayed Ulm as God’s chosen city, a second Wittenberg that served as a guiding light for all Evangelicals. In both cities, the calculated nature of the collective memories broadcast through the Jubilee contradicts modernist narratives that draw clear divisions between the operation of memory politics before and after the Enlightenment.

Pages: 299 - 322