Orthodoxy and Opposition: The Creation of a Secular Inquisition in Early Modern Brabant

by Christman, Victoria.

Abstract (Summary)
Decades of burgeoning humanism, intensifying lay piety, and an increasing anticlerical sentiment, paved the way for Martin Luther’s reforming message when it reached the Low Countries in 1519. As ruler of the territory, Charles V resolved to curb the spread of heterodoxy via the promulgation of a series of anti-heresy edicts. Increasing in severity throughout his reign, these edicts gradually removed the prosecution of heresy from the jurisdiction of the church, placing it squarely under the control of secular officials. The success of Charles’s religious legislation was therefore contingent upon the cooperation of primarily local, secular rulers. But municipal officials and their subjects viewed Charles’s anti-heresy legislation as an unwelcome encroachment on their local autonomy, and a disturbing manifestation of the emperor’s centralizing ambitions. Consequently, they formed a resolute front of determined resistance to the imposition of Charles’s religious policies throughout his reign. This study examines the motivations underlying this opposition, as well as the specific ways in which such resistance manifested itself. Chronologically, the study addresses the years of Charles’s reign (1515-1555) and geographically, the duchy of Brabant. This region, in the southern Low Countries (the modern-day borderland of Belgium and the Netherlands) was home to some of the most important urban centers in Europe. In the chapters that follow, the major Brabantine cities of Antwerp (the most lucrative commercial metropolis of the period), Leuven (home to the Catholic university and an important center of Roman theology), and Brussels (seat, after 1531, of Charles’s central administration) will be examined in terms 10 of their role in the religious controversy of the period, and the reactions of their inhabitants to the edicts promulgated by Charles. The anti-heresy edicts of Charles V represent one of the earliest attempts of a European ruler to establish a governmental policy for treating religious difference. This examination of the responses to these legal innovations provides not only a more detailed understanding of struggles for political autonomy, but a more nuanced view of belief and heterodoxy in this crucial period in the history of the early modern Low Countries. 11 PART I
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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