Covering a broad range of topics - encompassing legal, social, cultural, theological and political history - the volume asks fundamental questions about how we regard history, and what historians can learn from colleagues working in other fields that may not at first glance appear to offer any obvious links. By focussing on the concept of the medieval-modern divide - in particular the relation between the Middle Ages and the Reformation - each essay examines how a medievalist deals with a specific topic or issue that is also attracting the attention of Reformation scholars. In so doing it underlines the fact that both medievalists and modernists are often involved in bridging the medieval-modern divide, but are inclined to construct parallel bridges that end between the two starting points but do not necessarily meet. As a result, the volume challenges assumptions about the strict periodization of history, and suggest that a more flexible approach will yield interesting historical insights.
The essays in this volume offer readers a unique insight into this little-understood cultural shift. Half of the chapters investigate the manner in which the church and its attendant civil authorities defined and proscribed heresy, whilst the other half focus on the means by which early modern writers sought to supersede such definition and proscription. The result of these investigations is a multifaceted historical account of the construction and serial reconstruction of one of the key categories of European theological, juristic and political thought. The contributors explore the role of nationalism and linguistic identity in constructions of heresy, its analogies with treason and madness, the role of class and status in the responses to heresy. In doing so they provide fascinating insights into the roots of the historicization of heresy and the role of this historicization in the emergence of religious pluralism.