Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sister Reformations II

Just back from this very agreeable conference in Berlin, on the English and German Reformations. For me, the academic highlight was David Trim’s paper on the ethics of warfare in the Reformation era, a paper which somehow had additional punch coming from a first-rate military historian who, as a Seventh-Day Adventist, is also himself a pacifist. He gave a sober description of how the laws of war didn’t change at the Reformation (the principle that it was legitimate and appropriate to massacre rebellious peasants even after they had surrendered was universally accepted). And also of how they did: in the religious wars, the classic codes of chivalry which meant that surrendering forces were given quarter, and captured noblemen were ransomed, were largely abandoned: such people were simply massacred, as if they were rebels or infidels rather than the soldiers of another Christian prince.
                David promises he’s on the point of finishing his book on England’s covert role in the religious wars, whose concealment was so effective that we still largely haven’t seen through it. It will be worth the wait.

                Another Sister Reformations conference is pencilled in for 2015: maybe in Germany, maybe in Durham if we can raise the funding. Any suggestions for fruitful themes that would help us compare the two Reformations welcome …

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