Church and community history in the duchy of Schleswig 1550-1850 a comparative analysis of the use of churches by different social groups

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Church and community history in the duchy of Schleswig 1550-1850

- a comparative analysis of the use of churches by different social groups.
The understanding of the church space in the society in the period c. 1550-1850, has mostly been studied with a history of art or architectonic point of view. The study of the church space as a social scene has mostly been limited to the studying of for example pews and their importance as a social and prestige symbol or as a sign of rank and nobility culture. The church space was never the less an important forum in the society. It was a room, which should be the frame around the religious life – but it had other purposes to. What were these purposes, and how did they change in the period c. 1550-1850 in the duchy of Schleswig between Denmark and Germany. How was the link between the religious use of the church space and the way the people and the authorities used the church? Was there a clash of interests? In which way was the church space characterized by the different social groups – was the church a mirror of the social structure in the duchy of Schleswig through the period 1550-1850? I will seek to enlighten this partly by investigating the people who left their mark inside the churches, partly by investigating the activities that took place in the churches. The goal is then to achieve a higher understanding of the function of the church in the relationship between the people and the authorities from the Reformation and the next 300 years on.
To answer these many questions, I will pick out 3 areas with 1 church in each in the duchy of Schleswig with markedly different social characteristics to investigate. I will do this because it is quite possible that the development in the use of the church was different according to the social structure in the area. This is why the duchy of Schleswig is so a perfect place for this type of study. The 3 different areas will be respectively an area dominated by the prince and his peasants (the parish of Halk in the county of Haderslev), an area dominated by freeholding peasants (the parish of Koldenbüttel in the Landscape of Ejdersted) and an area dominated by a noble landlord (the parish of Dänischenhagen in the estate-district of Dänischwohld).
Practically I will divide my project into 4 main parts. It is important to stress out both the geographical and the time aspect. In the first part I will make an analysis of the 3 different churches with regard to their economy based upon the church-accounts. This is to show which possibilities the 3 parishes had and to show the frame for the rest of my investigations.
The second main part is an investigation of the church as a religious space in the sense, how did the parishioners use the church for religious ceremonies over time in the period after the Reformation to the 19. century. This is for instance seen in frequencies over the annual going to supper, over baptism at church contra baptism at home and over burial inside or outside the church.
The third main part is an investigation of the parish church as a space where the authorities and the public met. This is seen in both the materiel culture in name inscriptions on church furniture and in written sources such as official laws and regulations.
The forth main part is an investigation of the church as a space of memory. How did the users of the church make the church into a space of memory by putting up epitaphs, pictures or donating items such as candlesticks or chalices? The sources for this investigation are mainly the material culture – church furniture with name inscriptions.
My project is a three-year ph.d.-study from 1.4.2010 to 31.3.2013.

Karsten Merrald Sørensen

cand.mag. ph.d.stipendiat

Studieafdelingen og Arkivet ved

Dansk Centralbibliotek for Sydslesvig e.V.
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