The Reformation and Rural Society
What was the effect of the Reformation movement on the parishioners of the German countryside? This book examines the reform movement at the level of its implementation - the rural parish. Investigation of the Reformation and the sixteenth-century parish reveals the strength of tradition and custom in village life and how this parish culture obstructed and frustrated the efforts of the Lutheran reformers. The Reformation was not passively adopted by the rural inhabitants. On the contrary, the parishioners manipulated the reform movement to serve their own ends. Parish documentation reveals that the system of parish rule diffused the disciplinary aims of the church and rendered the pastors impotent. A look at parish beliefs suggests that the nature of parish thought worked to undermine the main tenets of the Lutheran faith, and that the legacy of the Reformation was a dialogue between these two realms of experience.