Marginal Coexistence: Anabaptists between Persecution and Toleration in Reformed Zurich, 1585-1650
AuthorNeufeld, David Yoder
AdvisorKarant-Nunn, Susan C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoDissertation not available (per author's request)
AbstractFor more than a century after the genesis of an Anabaptist movement in Zurich in 1525, participants in this prohibited religious culture continued to live in rural lands under the city- republic’s control. This dissertation examines the character of the coexistence of members of the Anabaptist minority and representatives of the Reformed majority in this territory between 1585, when the city council promulgated a new set of anti-Anabaptist mandates, and c. 1650, when official coercion eliminated the presence of nonconformist communities from the area. Drawing on a diverse body of archival evidence, the author concludes that Anabaptist-Reformed coexistence during this period occurred under conditions of repression. This phrase describes relations between a subordinate but active minority and a dominant majority when the latter both desired and took concrete steps to eliminate religious diversity as a notable feature of public life. Under such conditions, manifestations of Anabaptist religious culture—illicit mobility, recounting of conversion experiences, selective withdrawal from parish life, and courtship and marriage practices—often triggered a repressive response. These actions, by rendering nonconformity visible, violated cultural norms and boundaries that representatives of the Reformed majority considered worthy of defense. While levels of Anabaptist activity remained relatively stable, the severity of conflict between these groups vacillated markedly, influenced by varying configurations of governmental power, understandings of communal space, solidarities of kinship and neighborliness, and practices of record-production and record-keeping. Although repression pushed Anabaptists into marginal spaces, it did not provoke widespread dissimulation. Rather, dissidents generally remained willing, if not eager, to incur costs for the articulation of religious difference. The fact and nature of long-term Anabaptist-Reformed coexistence in Zurich’s lands expands appreciation of the breadth of possibilities for religious diversity in early modern Europe. At the same time, it shows how tenuous and cruel coexistence could be when stamped by conflict, domination, and human suffering.
Degree ProgramGraduate College