1st Edition

The European Wars of Religion An Interdisciplinary Reassessment of Sources, Interpretations, and Myths

    In recent years religion has resurfaced amongst academics, in many ways replacing class as the key to understanding Europe's historical development. This has resulted in an explosion of studies revisiting issues of religious change, confessional violence and holy war during the early modern period. But the interpretation of the European wars of religion still remains largely defined by national boundaries, tied to specific processes of state building as well as nation building. In order to more thoroughly interrogate these concepts and assumptions, this volume focusses on terms repeatedly used and misused in public debates such as "religious violence" and "holy warfare" within the context of military conflicts commonly labelled "religious wars". The chapters not only focus on the role of religion, but also on the emerging state as a driver of the escalation of violence in the so-called age of religious war. By using different methodological and theoretical approaches historians, philosophers, and theologians engage in an interdisciplinary debate that contributes to a better understanding of the religio-political situation of early modern Europe and the interpretation of violent conflicts interpreted as religious conflicts today. By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, new and innovative perspectives are opened up that question if in fact religion was a primary driving force behind these conflicts.






    Wolfgang Palaver, Harriet Rudolph, and Dietmar Regensburger

    Part I Historical Approaches

    1 Religion and Violence in the Hussite Wars

    Pavel Soukup

    2 Religion, War, and Violence in the Swiss Confederation

    Thomas Lau

    3 Were the French Wars of Religion Really Wars of Religion?

    Philip Benedict

    4 Religious Wars in the Holy Roman Empire? From the Schmalkaldic War to the Thirty Years War

    Harriet Rudolph

    5 England’s Wars of Religion: A Reassessment

    Charles W. A. Prior

    6 Justifying Force in Early Modern Doctrines on Self-defence and Resistance

    Luise Schorn-Schütte

    Part II Approaches from Philosophy and Theology

    7 Secularization of the Holy: A Reading of the ‘Wars of Religion’

    William T. Cavanaugh

    8 The Modern State or the Myth of ‘Political Violence’

    Paul Dumouchel

    9 The Modern Military–Humanitarian Hybrid State: A Response to Paul Dumouchel

    Bruce Ward

    10 Confessional Wars and Religious Violence in Christianity from a Theological Viewpoint

    Ralf Miggelbrink

    11 Religion and Violence: The Case of Wars in the Former Yugoslavia

    Janez Juhant

    12 The Debate About the European Wars of Religion as a Challenge to Interdisciplinary Cooperation

    Wolfgang Palaver



    Harriet Rudolph is Professor of Modern History (Early Modern Times) at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Wolfgang Palaver is Professor of Catholic Social Thought and Dean of the School of Catholic Theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. From 2007 to 2011 he was president of the 'Colloquium on Violence and Religion'. Dietmar Regensburger is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.