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Sixteenth-century Reformers would not have understood Michel Foucault’s postmodern assault on polemic as the antithesis of truth because the defense of truth – divine truth, that is – was the guiding purpose of their endeavors. They would, however, have recognized Foucault’s description of their tactics as a no-holds-barred contest against an “enemy who is wrong, who is hurtful, and whose very existence constitutes a threat.”1 Across the confessional divide, early modern polemicists believed they were engaged in a war of words as deadly serious as the bloody confrontations taking place in the streets and on the battlefields of Europe. The new medium of print became a critical instrument in their efforts to win princely support; mobilize public opinion across broad geographical, linguistic, and confessional boundaries; and vanquish the heretic in their midst.
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