Heresy in Transition: Transforming Ideas of Heresy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Heresy in Transition

Transforming Ideas of Heresy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 1st Edition

By John Christian Laursen, Cary J. Nederman

Edited by Ian Hunter


224 pages

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Hardback: 9780754654285
pub: 2005-11-28
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The concept of heresy is deeply rooted in Christian European culture. The palpable increase in incidences of heresy in the Middle Ages may be said to directly relate to the Christianity's attempts to define orthodoxy and establish conformity at its centre, resulting in the sometimes forceful elimination of Christian sects. In the transition from medieval to early modern times, however, the perception of heresy underwent a profound transformation, ultimately leading to its decriminalization and the emergence of a pluralistic religious outlook. The essays in this volume offer readers a unique insight into this little-understood cultural shift. Half of the chapters investigate the manner in which the church and its attendant civil authorities defined and proscribed heresy, whilst the other half focus on the means by which early modern writers sought to supersede such definition and proscription. The result of these investigations is a multifaceted historical account of the construction and serial reconstruction of one of the key categories of European theological, juristic and political thought. The contributors explore the role of nationalism and linguistic identity in constructions of heresy, its analogies with treason and madness, the role of class and status in the responses to heresy. In doing so they provide fascinating insights into the roots of the historicization of heresy and the role of this historicization in the emergence of religious pluralism.


'… the volume excels in many areas…' Church History ’Scholars of medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment intellectual and social history should especially benefit from reading this work as it demonstrates an important process of intellectual and social change by means of concrete examples.’ Sixteenth Century Journal

About the Authors/Editor

Ian Hunter is a professor at the Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland, Australia. John Christian Laursen is a professor in the Political Science Department, University of California, Riverside, USA. Cary J. Nederman is a professor in the Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University, USA.

About the Series

Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700

Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700
Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700 addresses all varieties of religious behaviour extending beyond traditional institutional and doctrinal church history. It is interdisciplinary, comparative and global, as well as non-confessional. It understands religion, primarily of the 'Catholic' variety, as a broadly human phenomenon, rather than as a privileged mode of access to superhuman realms. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700 will appeal to academics and students interested in the history of late medieval and early modern western Christianity in global context. The series embraces any and all expressions of traditional religion, books in it will take many approaches, among them literary history, art history, and the history of science, and above all, interdisciplinary combinations of them.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General