Religious Conversion, Confessional Competition, and the Social History of the Peace of Westphalia

CEU Community + Invited Guests
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 6:00pm
Add to Calendar
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

The Department of History & the Center for Religious Studies
invite you to a seminar by

Duane Corpis
(Cornell University)

Religious Conversion, Confessional Competition, and the Social History of the Peace of Westphalia


February 19, 2014

6 PM

CEU, Nádor utca 9
MB, Room 203

To participate, please RSVP to


Abstract: In his recent work on both the material and subjective boundaries of confessional communities in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany, Duane Corpis has argued that the Peace of Westphalia embodied a core paradox. On the one hand, the Peace brought to a decisive end the militarized conflicts in Germany underwritten by the religious, theological, and confessional differences between Protestants and Catholics. It promised a measure of toleration and provided a legal basis for political stability in a multi-confessional empire. It even permitted the further articulation of notions of private conscience and freedom of confessional choice. And yet, on the other hand, the mechanisms for implementing these seemingly modern and progressive ideals actually show the degree to which toleration was largely a matter of practically managing and controlling difference in ways that primarily meant to preserve stability by institutionalizing religious competition and conflict. Far from rendering state processes more secularized, the outcome of the Peace of Westphalia, especially when it comes to the social history of religious conversion, tended to weave religious and confessional threats, fears, and hostilities into often intolerant and antagonistic bureaucratic, administrative, and even diplomatic encounters.

Duane J. Corpis is the author of Crossing the Boundaries of Belief: Geographies of Religious Conversion in Southern Germany, 1648-1800 (University of Virginia Press, 2014), which recently won the Southern Historical Association's Charles Smith Book Award in European History. He is currently a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at CEU and was recently a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Forschungszentrum Gotha of the University of Erfurt. He has published on confession and conversion in early modern Germany, the politics of space and place, and the gendered dynamics of pilgrimage reform in the Enlightenment. His current interests include two projects: the history of pre-industrial noise and the global expansion of Protestant charitable projects during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As of September 2015, he will be associate professor of Early Modern European and Global History at New York University in Shanghai.