RADICAL RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN PREMODERN SOCIETIES
The emergence of dissenting and radical religious groups was a logical consequence of the pursuit of renewal in premodern Christianity. The separation of such groups from the mainstream can in turn be seen as resulting from the diversity of solutions to the tension between religious idealism and the demands of social and political stability. The relatively intensive research of late medieval and early modern religious separatism has operated in a field demarcated by concepts such as heresy, reform and reformation, revolution, religious movements, apocalypticism, and others. By building upon this research tradition, but not limited by the restraints of any single terminology, this conference has a twofold aim: to facilitate a more comparative approach by bringing together scholars of various religious communities of premodern Europe, and to situate the study of dissident religion within its local social, political, and communal context.
Founded in February 1420, Tábor is just one—albeit in many respects an exceptional—example of a radical religious community. Born from millenarian expectations, Tábor underwent swift development, from a sectarian revolutionary commune to a military-political power within Hussitism and a properly established medieval town. In other cases like Florence, Zürich, Münster, Prague, and many more, religious radicalism settled into the pre-existing social and political structures of municipal communities, while other radical groups pursued a clandestine or secluded existence. This conference will deal with the religiously motivated group-formation from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, focusing on movements and ideologies such as (but not limited to) Waldensianism, Wycliffism, Hussitism, spiritual Franciscanism, the radical Reformation, and various other utopian and religiously-inspired visions.
Speakers are invited to explore the social dimension of radical religion in the medieval and early modern periods. Instead of social-economical determinism, we would like to focus on local networks, interpersonal bonds, and communal dynamisms. As a counterpart to the study of intellectual influences and ideological pedigrees, we propose to examine how emerging religious groups strove to propagate their message. While investigating the reactions of the of society, we hope to look beyond the mere reproduction of the 'image of the other' to more practical deliberations about possible solutions to religious separatism, as well as to proposals for reintegration of radical groups.
The conference programme will be structured by the following themes: