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The research project "Transition and Continuity. Society, Everyday Life and Religion in Northern Europe, 1450-1600" aims at a broad, modern and comparative approach to the transitions and continuities from 1450 to 1600, by concentrating on the hitherto neglected areas in social history, everyday life and mentality in The Northern Baltic Sea Area during the Reformation compared to Germany, Switzerland, England and other protestant areas. The project seeks to deconstruct traditional a priori assumptions by studying broadly both the church reformation and larger developments and currents in society and everyday life. The Reformation is seen as an important factor, but not a priori as a decisive element determining or influencing all other developments in the 16th Century.

The project assesses the social, religious and political transition and continuity in the Reformation period by asking if it is legitimate to speak of any true Reformation on a popular and parish level before the end of the 16th Century: Is it legitimate to speak of a real, socially Reformation of all social layers in Sweden and Finland before 1593, when the Augsburg Confession was finally introduced by a Swedish church assembly? Or is even that date too early? When did the Reformation really happen in the different parts of Northern Europe on a popular level? An important clue is the hypothesis that the 16th Century is characterized much more by continuities in culture, society and everyday life than by sharp ruptures or changes. This needs to be verified on the sources and tested in different social structures: were there gender differences or differences between rural and urban areas in everyday life popular culture?

Working on new and not yet explored sources is a major objective. Important source material dealing with the catholic information on the Northern protestant regions and the efforts for their recapture can be found in the Vatican Archive, namely also in the sources connected with the Papal Nuntiaturae, where Finnish researchers laid nearly hundred years ago a basic fundament, still highly esteemed in international research. Other archives to be used are in Tallinn, Uppsala with its large manuscript collections, and other places around the Baltic. Even in Finnish archives there can be still found large quantities of sources not yet or only partially used.

The Project is funded by the Academy of Finland 2008-2011. The site of Research is the Department of History, University of Tampere, in joint collaboration with the Department of Church History, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki.

University of Tampere
Department of History and Philosophy

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