Three competing Reformation paradigms emerged in the city of Strasbourg, the duchy of Württemberg (with Tübingen university), and the Electoral Palatinate (with the university of Heidelberg) in the second half of the sixteenth century: an “upper German”, a Lutheran, and a Reformed model, respectively. Each of the three emphasized its distinctiveness, but was inevitably influenced by the other two. What were the motives and the mechanisms behind this process of confessionalization? What impact did it have on the early modern period? Our research project seeks to answer these questions by methodically tapping into the genre “letter,” also encompassing letters in the form of dedicatory epistles, memoranda and reports. One of the key enigmas facing current early modern historiography is understanding the interplay between confessionalization and secularization. Solving it will not only shed light on the formation of Western civilization, but will also help inform the current debate over the role of religion in public sphere.
This academy project seeks to compile, analyze, and selectively edit the letters of Protestant theologians in the southwest of the Holy Roman Empire in the period between the Peace of Augsburg and the Thirty Years’ War in as thorough a form as possible. This correspondence corpus comprises some 35,000 letters from approximately 185 persons. Because of the abundance of source material, most letters will be incorporated into the database under consideration of basic information (précis, persons, places and subjects). A smaller portion of these letters wil be accompanied by digital reproductions of the manuscript originals, and a further selection will also be fully transcribed. The 1,000 most important letters will be published in a critical and annotated edition.