Magic, Religion, and Science

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is organizing a conference on Magic, Religion, and Science in the Global Middle Ages and Renaissance, which will be held in Phoenix in February 2019.

“The ACMRS and MAP Joint Conference: Magic, Religion, and Science in the Global Middle Ages and Renaissance (2019) ​​​is ​​​an ​​​annual ​​​gathering ​​​of ​​​scholars, ​​​students, ​​​retirees ​​​and ​​​members ​​​of ​​​the ​​​general ​​​public ​​​interested ​​​in ​​​medieval and Renaissance ​​​studies. ACMRS is proud to announce that its 2019 conference will be held jointly with the Medieval Association of the Pacific. We welcome papers that explore any topic related to the study and teaching of the Middle Ages and Renaissance and especially those that focus on the general theme of ​​​“Magic, Religion, and Science ​​​in ​​​the ​​​Global ​​​Middle ​​​Ages ​​​and ​​​Renaissance.” The ​​​conference ​​​lasts ​​​four ​​​days, ​​​from ​​​Wednesday, ​​​February ​6​, ​​​with ​​​sessions ​​​beginning ​​​at ​​​1 ​​​p.m., ​​​until…

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The Eighty Years’ War and the Birth of the Netherlands

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is inaugurating a major new exhibition on the Dutch Revolt (or the Eighty Years’ War) next week.

The curators explain that “This year is the 450th anniversary of the outbreak of the Eighty Years’ War, and to mark the event the Rijksmuseum is holding an exhibition entitled ’80 Years’ War. The Birth of the Netherlands’. From 12 October 2018 to 20 January 2019, satirical cartoons, items of clothing, weapons and paintings by Bruegel, Rubens and Ter Borch will be our ‘eyewitnesses’, telling the story of how the Dutch nation was born.”

Just in time for Northern Illinois University students to discuss the Dutch Revolt in my course on the European Wars of Religion, the Rijksmuseum has launched a website associated with the exhibition.

The overview reads: “In a contemporary exhibition created by the Flemish stage designer Roel van Berckelaer, the Rijksmuseum will show how the…

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Femmes à la Cour de France

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

Femmes à la cour de France. Charges et fonctions (XVe – XIXe siècle), ed. Caroline zum Kolk, Kathleen Wilson-Chevalier (Villeneuve d’Ascq, Septentrion, 2018), ISBN-102757423614, will soon be published.

This collective volume on women at the French court in the early modern period includes studies in English and French languages on noblewomen, their households, official and family roles, women and court politics, motherhood and parenting, mistresses and sexuality.

I contributed an essay on “« Je ne vis jamais cette cour plus pleine de tourment » : Montmorency Women and Confessional Politics at Court during the French Wars of Religion,” to the volume.

Historians of early modern women, gender, and sexuality will be interested in this volume, as will historians of the French court and early modern France.

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Remembering the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

I will be offering my course, HIST 414 European Wars of Religion, 1520s-1660s, at Northern Illinois University beginning next Monday.

Just in time for the beginning of the semester, today is the anniversary of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris on 24 August 1572, one of the most shocking atrocities of the French Wars of Religion (1559-1629).

As I prepare my classes this week, I am reminded of the other major historical commemorations that intersect with my course on the European Wars of Religion. 

Last year was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s challenge to papal authority and his publication of the Ninety-Five Theses (1517). Reformation historians in Germany and around the world held numerous conferences, workshops, lectures, and services throughout 2017 in celebration or commemoration of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Scholars, clergy, and journalists published many articles and books reflecting on Martin Luther’s life and the…

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Presentation at the University of Chicago

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

I am looking forward to presenting at the Early Modern and Mediterranean Worlds Workshop at the University of Chicago next week.

Brian Sandberg, “Conversion, Confessional Politics, and Violence in the Final Stages of the French Wars of Religion, 1598-1629”
Early Modern and Mediterranean Worlds Workshop
Monday 29 January 2018
Rosenwald 405
University of Chicago

For more information, see:

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Graduate Student Conference at the Newberry Library

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives

I am pleased that several of my former graduate students are participating in this week’s Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, sponsored by the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library.

“The Center for Renaissance Studies’ annual graduate student conference, organized and run by advanced doctoral students, has become a premier opportunity for emerging scholars to present papers, participate in discussions, and develop collaborations across the field of medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies in Europe, the Americas, and the Mediterranean world. Participants from a wide variety of disciplines find a supportive and collegial forum for their work, meet future colleagues from other institutions and disciplines, and become familiar with the Newberry and its resources.”

For the conference program and further information, see the Newberry Library website for the conference.

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Flooding as a Military Strategy

Flooding is part of life in the Netherlands. But, at least since the sixteenth century, humans have deliberately instigated floods as a military strategy.

During the Dutch Revolt (1566-1648), dykes were periodically opened in order to flood portions of the countryside in the Netherlands as a defensive measure against advancing armies. Strong religious motivations shaped the civil conflict in the Netherlands, as the Spanish Army of Flanders and local Catholics attempted to suppress a rebellion by militant Dutch Calvinists. One of the most famous incidents of deliberate flooding occurred in 1584, when Dutch forces under William of Orange destroyed seawalls in an attempt to protect the city of Antwerp, which was besieged by Spanish troops.


Adriaan de Kraker (Assistant Professor,  VU University Amsterdam) has been researching deliberate flooding from 1500 to the present. He argues that “the plan got completely out of hand. … It came at the expense of the countryside of northern Flanders, now Zeeland Flanders, some two thirds of which was flooded.”

Flooding continued to be used periodically as a military strategy during later wars in the Netherlands.


Adriaan de Kraker’s article is available online at Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. The European Geosciences Union reports on de Kraker’s research.

Posted in Catholicism and Religious Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, Civilians and Religious Violence, European Wars of Religion, Protestantism and Religious Violence | 1 Comment