Medieval Academy of America 5
The significance of the historical divide between late medieval and early modern Europe, the “great wall of 1500,” has always been contested, and the standard periodization has come under increasing scrutiny in many fields of history in recent years. In religious history, the divide has remained fairly powerful, the rupture represented by the Protestant Reformation seemingly quite evident. Yet when historians consider social and cultural aspects of religion beyond confessional theologies, many of the apparent divides around 1500 disappear or must be nuanced in significant ways. The three papers here examine major aspects of religious history: religious reform and the veneration of particular reformers, which proved a powerful force in both the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; women’s spirituality and forms of religious life, which blur the often male-defined boundaries between not only medieval and early modern but Catholic and Protestant as well; and finally Protestant theology and polemical preaching, but with an eye toward their underlying continuities with medieval thought and practice. Together the papers survey a broad spectrum of religious activity in late medieval and early modern society and question some of the fundamental divisions that history has drawn through them. The session will appeal to historians of medieval and early modern Europe, and to historians of religion focusing on other periods and regions who are interested in questions of periodization and historiographical boundaries.