(C2-26) Ultramontanism as a transnational and transatlantic phenomenon, 1819-1918

In recent years, transnational and global historical approaches have not only been proclaimed but also implemented in a promising manner. Above all, however, economy, migration and communication were focused on and not religion. While global historians largely brushed it off, religious scholars, on the other hand, concerned themselves but little with global historical perspectives.

Ultramontanism, though, is a stunningly successful model of transnational diffusion and even homogenisation of the religious. Not only the spiritual and institutional orientation towards Rome is to be understood by the ultramontane movement since the early 19th century, which culminated in the dogma of infallibility in 1870, but also the turning of the training of the clergy into a discipline and the standardisation of religious norms. Astonishingly, this of all worldwide movements has not been analysed from a global historical point of view yet. The controversies rather revolved around two questions: was ultramontanism controlled from or reported to Rome? Was it anti-modern or progressive? Both controversies were fought out for individual countries like France or Germany, but they were limited to methodological nationalism or binational comparison.

The project is therefore aimed at making use of the transnational perspective in order to give fresh impetus to the discussions. Ultramontanism was also based on exchange processes between various national types of Catholicism; it was fuelled by transnational horizontal sources of inspiration, by circulating organisational structures, beliefs and forms of practice, with their respective assimilation to the specific conditions of the host countries. How did ultramontanism get to Québec, to Brazil? What came back to Europe? In global Catholicism, clergymen were in lively dialogue with one another, and so were laymen (missionaries, correspondents, publicists). Circulation took place not only to Rome and from Rome alone, but across countries and continents, also bypassing Rome. The phenomenon, for the most part considered to be European, will be developed anew by looking into and based on the Latin American “periphery”. Together with a project on the transnationality of Central European Catholicism, project C2-26 focuses on the history of interrelations with the Spanish and Portuguese sphere of Europe and of Central and South America.