Reformation and the German Territorial State

Reformation and the German Territorial State

Upper Franconia, 1300-1630

William Bradford Smith


University of Rochester Press



A richly documented study of the interrelation between religious reformation and territorial state-building in the German region of upper Franconia from the later Middle Ages through the Confessional era.
Religious reform and the rise of the territorial state were the central features of early modern German history. Reformation and state-building, however, had a much longer history, beginning in the later Middle Ages and continuing through the early modern period. In this insightful new study, Smith explores the key relationship between the rise of the territorial state and religious upheavals of the age, centering his investigation on the diocese of Bamberg in upper Franconia.
During the Reformation, the diocese was split in half: the parishes in the domains of the Franconian Hohenzollerns became Lutheran; those under the secular jurisdiction of the bishops of Bamberg remained Catholic. Drawing from a broad range of archival sources, Smith offers a compelling look at the origins and course of Catholic and Protestant reform. He examines the major religious crises of the period -- the Great Schism, the Conciliar Movement, the Hussite War, the Peasant's War, the Thirty Years' War, and the Witch Craze -- comparing their impact on the two states and showing how events played out on the local, territorial, and imperial stages. Careful analysis of the sources reveals how religious beliefs shaped politics in the emerging territorial principalities, explaining both the similarities as well as the profound differences between Lutheran and Catholic conceptions of the state.

William Bradford Smith is Professor of History at Oglethorpe University.


3 line illustrations
298 pages
9x6 in
Changing Perspectives on Early Modern Europe
Paperback, 9781580465663, April 2016
Hardback, 9781580462747, May 2008
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC REL033000, REL108020, HIS014000
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Table of Contents

Territory and Community
Rebellion, Representation, and Reform
"Lord in Our Own House"
Reformation and Revolution
The Limits of Obedience
A Plague of Preachers
Orthodoxy and Order
The Christian Commune
Cuius Regio?
The Stool of Wickedness


Provide(s) an important new perspective on the processes of state-building and confessionalisation in the German lands between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Reformation and the German Territorial State is an impressive volume. . . . Smith's renderings of numerous archival cases are keenly attuned to actual indindividuals, vivid ommunities, and shifting institutions, which he presents with clarity, precision, and winsome detail. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

Smith skillfully combines a variety of archival, primary, and secondary sources. . . . His analysis is of broader temporal scope than most of the scarce work on Upper Franconia in English; the results, though occasionally counterintuitive, will be of strong comparative value. The book's mature, sophisticated narrative reveals the author's eye for the telling detail. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. CHOICE

Ambitiously conceived and meticulously researched, this book sets out to examine the "twin processes" of religious reform and territorial formation. What distinguishes this work is its dual perspective and its nuanced approach to the complexity of change and the thoughts behind the process. . . . As the book illustrates, the reform of religion could act as a buttress to the making of the territory, but it could threaten its stability as well. Few recent works on German Reformation have captured this sense of contingency as skillfully as Reformation and the German Territorial State. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

Reformation and the German Territorial State is thoughtfully written, impressively researched, provocative and engaging. Smith convincingly argues that while the concept of confessionalization may work as a grand narrative, it all but collapses when examined on the social-historical level. . . . This is a must-read for those interested in the intersection of religion, politics, and state-building in the early modern era. --David M. Whitford, United Theological Seminary

A sophisticated contribution to the scholarship on confessionalization in the Holy Roman Empire. . . . Smith carefully reconstructs and compares Lutheran and Catholic confessionalization in the same region, keenly aware of the ways in which religion moved politics within a complex institutional framework. --Brad Gregory, University of Notre Dame

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