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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012

Chapter 7 - Orthodoxy and Order


Viewed from the perspective of officials in Bamberg and Kulmbach, two issues stood out in the parochial disputes of the 1560s and 1570s. Throughout the second half of the sixteenth century, increasingly greater emphasis was given to replacing the old priesthood with better-trained, orthodox pastors. It was on the shoulders of the new priesthood, men born and raised after the Lutheran Reformation, that the burden of enforcing the new confessional norms was laid. In the confrontations between the new clergy and their flocks, serious questions arose concerning the moral character of the laity. And although a number of peasant failings–superstition, addiction to gossip, drinking, blasphemy, and so on–are recorded by ecclesiastical officials, one particular fault took center stage: sexual immorality. Caspar Günther and Johann Prentel both discovered that of all their duties, the reform of marriage was the most likely to provoke anger and resentment.

The education of pastors and the reform of marriage have often been considered two aspects of the same phenomenon: the formation of the modern state and society. Insofar as the clergy were in a “strategic position,” it was important to ensure that clerics were well trained, not simply instructed in orthodox doctrine, but also trained to serve as effective administrators within the confessional state. The transformation of the “peasant clergy” of the Middle Ages into the self-consciously professional clerical order of the eighteenth century is generally understood as an essential stage in the evolution of modern bureaucracies.