Of Hypocrites, Whores, and Holy Animal Bones. Polemical Comparisons and the Invective Mode in Early Reformation Disputes
Keywords:invective mode, pamphlets, polemic, public sphere, Reformation, Saxony
This article aims to illustrate how a pervasively invective mode of communication was pivotal for early Reformation disputes. For this purpose, it explores, first, specific techniques of polemical comparison used in invective communication. Second, it analyses the relation between a broader transregional public discourse and debates at the local level. Some of the sources examined in this article, for instance a handwritten pasquinade whose anonymous author fiercely criticized a Franciscan preacher, as well as a creatively adapted letter of indulgence, are new to Reformation research. The objective here is to outline decisive and entangled aspects of (semi-)public communication between 1520 and 1524. In order to do so, I focus on the beginning of early Reformation conflicts, their ongoing volatility, and their performative zenith, along the border of two of the most important German territories at the time—the Ernestine Electorate and the Albertine Duchy of Saxony.
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