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Holy war and divine peace. Interpretations of war and peace in European sermons of the early modern period

Institutional funding since 2018

This project was a follow-up study to the project "Representations of Peace" which has been funded in the framework of the Leibniz competition 2015. It dealt with the question of how wars and peace agreements were represented, assessed and used for ethical teachings in sermons of the 17th and 18th century.

Did the sermons contribute to giving theological legitimacy to individual events of war or to the means of war in general? Did they frame peace agreements as a success of the negotiating parties or as a divine process out of human reach and interference? Can peace be awarded a sacred character? What consequences did the preachers draw from coping with warlike events for the ethical orientation in the future? Moreover, which changes occurred in these sermons when the ideas and ideals of Enlightenment surfaced?

These questions were examined in an interdenominational and international comparison based on an inventory of several hundred European sermons and related texts such as prayers, songs and liturgies. This included court sermons, sermons in front of urban and rural parishes, but also sermons directed to (former) soldiers. They show a situational adaptation of the statements and – over the centuries – a clear development in the understanding of war and peace.