When Did the Holy Roman Empire Cease to Be Holy? Reformation, Ritual, and the Coherence of the Imperial Constitution

Date: 
February 19, 2014 - 11:00 - 12:40
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
Gellner Room
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Presenter(s): 
Barbara Stollberg Rilinger
CEU host unit(s): 
Department of History

 

When Did the Holy Roman Empire Cease to Be Holy?
Reformation, Ritual, and the Coherence
of the Imperial Constitution
a public lecture by
Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger
University of Münster

 

When Did the Holy Roman Empire Cease to Be Holy?

Reformation, Ritual, and the Coherence

of the Imperial Constitution

a public lecture by

Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger

University of Münster

Since the high Middle Ages the Roman-German Empire was considered ‘holy’. The sacral character of emperor and empire was not as much a matter of belief as it was of ritual practice. When, in the 1520es, the reformation movement took hold of the imperial estates, a profound, conspicuous, and enduring discord opened up between the two sides regarding religious truth and ritual. This could not remain without consequences for the order of the empire.The question I will try to answer is how it was possible to successfully integrate the religious schism into the political association without destroying it. Did the empire cease to be holy in order to survive? I will explore the question on the level of symbolic practice and focus on a particularly significant example, namely the imperial diet in Augsburg in 1530. The disputes at this imperial assembly demonstrate that the clash between the Protestant movement and the emperor was also a conflict of symbols. It was quite  fundamentally about the ritual forms in which the holiness of the empire manifested itself.

Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger is the holder of the prestigious Deutsche Historiker Preis 2013 and Director of the Excellenzcluster Religion and Politics (Münster). She studied German language and literature, history, and history of art at the University of Cologne, graduating in 1980 and earning a doctorate in 1985. She habilitated at the University of Cologne in 1995. Since 1997, Stollberg-Rilinger has been seated at the University of Münster, where she holds the chair of Early Modern History. Among numerous affiliations, she is a member of the Advisory Board for the German Historical Museum Berlin and the Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung and a Member of the Association for Constitutional History (Vereinigung fuer Verfassungsgeschichte). She is the author of  Des Kaisers alte Kleider. Verfassungsgeschichte und Symbolsprache des Alten Reiches, München: Beck 2008 (The Emperor’s Old Clothes. Constitutional History and Symbolic Language of the Old Empire). French translation 2013; English translation forthcoming, and Das Heilige Roemische Reich Deutscher Nation vom Spaetmittelalter bis 1806, München: Beck 2006 (The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the Late Middle Ages to 1806), 4th edition 2013. Her focus lies on the political and cultural movements and changes in Europe in the Age of Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries).