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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Whereas the princes of the empire often took a leading part in supporting the cause of the Reformation in the Holy Roman Empire the lower nobility, knights, and simple country squires were initially more reluctant to commit themselves to the new faith. However, to the extent that the confessional divide deepened, many noble families now firmly embraced either the Roman Church or Protestantism. Such development was even more pronounced in countries where the crown lost control over the process of confessionalization as in France or in the Habsburg monarchy. Here nobles often took a more active part in promoting the cause of the Reformation. In the later sixteenth century confessional allegiance frequently became part of the dynastic identity and the cultural capital of noble families.

Keywords: ecclesiastical benefices, dissolution of monasteries, Wars of Religion, Confessional indifference, conversion, female piety exile, Calvinism, right of resistance, noble self-fashioning

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