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Journal > Volumes > 51 (2020) / 2 (Summer)
Religion or Rebellion? Justifying the French Wars of Religion and Dutch Revolt to German Protestants
Jonas van Tol
University of Amsterdam

During the French Wars of Religion and the Dutch Revolt, German audiences were continually targeted with appeals for support. Due to the empire’s fragmented confessional landscape, the warring parties in France and the Netherlands faced the difficult challenge of presenting justifications with cross-confessional appeal. Central to their strategy was the sharp differentiation between religious and political motives. By explaining the actions of their adversaries as the product of hypocrisy and personal ambition, the aristocratic leadership of the warring parties deconfessionalised the two conflicts. These efforts were partly undone by pamphleteers who interpreted the conflicts as manifestations of a larger religious or even eschatological struggle. These two narratives were essentially irreconcilable and therefore caused confusion among German audiences. This article explores the nature and impact of these contradictory explanations. Sensitive to the inconsistencies, the German aristocracy advocated solutions that carefully addressed both the religious and the political dimension of the conflicts.

Pages: 445 - 464