Reordering Marriage and Society in Reformation Germany
Cambridge University Press, Jan 27, 1995 - History - 315 pages
Combining extensive archival research and a broad array of scholarly monographs, Harrington presents us with the clearest and most comprehensive evaluation of the Reformation's impact on marriage currently available. To assess fairly the degree of Protestant innovation, he compares reformers' goals and achievements for marriage to those of contemporary Catholics. All sixteenth century campaigns to restore "traditional family values", Harrington argues, must first be viewed in the context of much more gradual social transformations of private morality, public authority, and familial relations. Seen from this perspective, the apparent innovations of Protestants in marriage - including the abolition of clerical celibacy and introduction of divorce - fade in comparison to their much greater adherence to the theological, legal, and social traditions they share with their Catholic ancestors and contemporaries. All more ambitious attempts by Protestant authorities to alter marital and sexual relations during the sixteenth century similarly met with wide-spread popular resistance. In his detailed comparison of marriage formation and sexual discipline among Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics of the Rhineland Palatinate, Harrington concludes that local custom and authority continued to prevail over all religiously inspired innovation.
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