(A2-5) Marital Conflicts between Crime and Sin: On the Relationship between Secular and Clerical Penal Power in the County of Lippe during the Confessional Age

Ever since Wolfgang Reinhard and Heinz Schilling introduced the concept of “confessionalisation” into historical scientific research, religious-confessional changes since the Protestant Reformation have been associated with the process of the “formation of an early modern state” (H. Schilling) which took form in particular in the centralisation and juridification of territorial lordship. This development is rooted, not least, in the fact that the power of governance over the church system in the Protestant territories devolved to the territorial lords who, as “guardians of both tables of the law” (Melanchthon), now regarded themselves as authorised to judge both secular and clerical matters. The state’s claim to regulation often involved conflicts, particularly in reformed territories, all the more so as the church considered itself particularly responsible in watching over the chasteness of the community and to consistently punish sinful behaviour such as fornication, prostitution and adultery within the scope of church discipline. Therefore, the introduction of Calvinism as the new religious doctrine was accompanied by a new church and marriage order which was not necessarily compatible with secular legislation, local folk culture and regional legal tradition. Although the church and the state pursued the shared interest in preventing secret betrothals as well as the support of illegitimate children by means of the poor box, this did not mean that they established uniform rules in order to achieve this, rules which were similarly adhered to by the subjects. Against this backdrop, the question arises of how diverse and above all conflicting norms were dealt with in practice, how lordship functioned at all on the basis of antagonistic notions of order and how it was legitimised. The research project discusses this issue taking judicial culture in the county of Lippe as an example, where both secular and clerical courts dealt with marriage crimes and moral crimes after the reformed church was introduced.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform G Religion, Politics, and Gender Relations and coordinated project group The implementation and enforcement of norms.