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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

‘Belief and its Limits’ outlines five major themes: (1) the transformation started by the Protestant and Catholic reformations of the sixteenth century that refashioned the way most people understood Christianity; (2) the slow emergence of peaceful co-existence among rival confessional churches after the violence of the Reformation that accompanied the disintegration of the Roman Church into dozens of different Christian churches; (3) the growing and protracted efforts of both church and state to control and regulate popular beliefs, practices, and behaviours, albeit with only limited success, with a particular focus on confessionalization, witchcraft beliefs, and printing; (4) the emergence of new ideas and belief systems by 1800 that historians have traditionally referred to as Enlightenment, that ultimately challenged the beliefs of the past; and (5) the continuation and even strengthening of belief in gender hierarchy and patriarchy in European cultures.

Keywords: Reformation, toleration, confessionalization, witch-hunt, Enlightenment, patriarchy

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