- Die baltischen Lande im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung Teile 1–4: Livland, Estland, Ösel, Ingermanland, Kurland und Lettgallen. Stadt, Land und Konfession 1500–1721 Edited by Matthias Asche, Werner Buchholz, and Anton Schindling
These four volumes are devoted to the history of the Protestant Reformation and confessionalization in the Baltic region. The editors have set an ambitious goal to present in these collections of essays an alternative interpretation to the traditional approach to the Protestant Reformation—first of all to discuss the concept coined by Baltic German historians. According to this new treatment, the history of the Reformation in the Baltic region also should be distinguished by an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. The sources and methods employed by the authors are varied, as are their backgrounds and scholarly fields—there are historians, art historians, linguists, and musicologists among them. Each volume has its own focus. The first one consists of contributions on the spreading of the new Evangelical faith among the native population, whose Christianization in the Middle Ages had been superficial. The main contribution to the volume by Aleksander Loit (“Reformation und Konfessionalisierung in den ländlichen Gebieten der baltischen Lande von ca. 1500 bis zum Ende der schwedischen Herrschaft,” pp. 49–217) seems like a small book about the history of medieval Livonia rather than an essay about the course of the Protestant Reformation in the countryside. The essays by Raimo Raag (“Die Literatur der Esten im Zeichen von Reformation und [End Page 143] Konfessionalisierung,” pp. 217–46) and by Pēteris Vanags (“Die Literatur der Letten im Zeichen von Reformation und Konfessionalisierung,” pp. 263–85) point to the traditional attitude—that religious publications of the sixteenth century, especially the Protestant ones, have had a fundamental role in the development of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian written languages and the spread of literacy.
The essays presented in the second volume focus on cultural history; the authors try to make visible and analyze the impulses given by the religious movements of the sixteenth century to the cultural and social developments in the Baltic region. The central essays by Krista Kodres (“Kirchliche Kunst in den von Esten bewohnten Gebieten im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung,” pp. 41–67) and Ojārs Spārītis (“Kirchliche Kunst und Architektur in den lettischsprachigen Regionen der baltishen Lande im Zeitalter von Reformation und Konfessionalisierung,” pp. 103–32) are dedicated to the impact of the Protestant Reformation on religious art and architecture in the territory of contemporary Estonia and Latvia. The second volume is probably the most interesting one and also is distinguished by a well-balanced and clear structure.
The third volume deals with the spread of the Protestant Reformation to the towns in the Baltic region. One of the most intriguing aspects of the Livonian Reformation is the speed with which it reached Livonia and spread there. By 1524, the Reformation had already triumphed in the major Livonian towns and in smaller towns by 1526. The main contribution of the third volume by Enn Tarvel (“Kirche und Bürgerschaft in den Baltischen Städten im 16. Und 17. Jahrhundert,” pp. 17–100) lies in elaborating on the course of the Reformation in towns and developments of the church organization in the Baltic region from the Middle Ages up to 1710. Tarvel points out that in Livonia (that is, in the territory of contemporary Estonia and Latvia), Protestants and Catholics lived side by side for a long time, and the Lutheran Church gained a dominant position only after the Swedish conquests in...