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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter exams the impact of the Protestant Reformation on law and courts in western Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Specifically it addresses the question of continuity and change in legal structures and the subsequent social impact of Protestant courts, particularly in resolving local disputes and promulgating patriarchal notions of authority. It finds considerable conservatism in both law and procedure, yet at the same time a significant increase in litigation and impositions of punishment. Despite this greater activity, this chapter argues that legal courts should not be viewed principally as top-down mechanisms for enforcing religious conformity, but more as arenas for the interactive creation of confessional identity at the communal and individual level.

Keywords: confessionalization, consistory, court, enforcement, jurisdiction, law, punishment, secularization

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