Edited By Rudolf Suntrup and Jan R. Veenstra
For medieval man heaven was a concrete reality. Belief in the afterlife was self-evident and intense in a way that is difficult to imagine for modern man who knows heaven sooner from booktitles, songs, figures of speech or advertisements than from every-day experience. The contributions to this volume of proceedings, however, deal with the question how in the late-medieval and early-modern period the idealized image of heaven influenced life, society and art. The various essays deal with the impact of this idealism on politics and society (ruler, state, education, theocracy), on religious practice (poor relief, pilgrimage), and on different art forms (Meistergesang, religious song, and allegorical poetry). The volume contains six German and three English contributions.
Freedom and Prophecy in Early-Modern Theocracies:Some Notes on Savonarola and John of LeidenJan R. Veenstra (Groningen) 177
Freedom and Prophecy in Early-Modern Theocracies Some Notes on Savonarola and John of Leiden Jan R. Veenstra (Groningen) I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem William Blake 1. Introduction It is a general assumption that people prefer liberty over perfection. Hence freethinkers and advocates of liberty are believed to have a more lasting effect on history than most preachers and prophets. The latter can be hailed as critics of contemporary wrongs and corruptions, as revolutionaries pointing the way to a better future, but their experiments in social and spiritual reform tend to be short-lived even though their reputations and sometimes dramatic lives give them lasting renown. The advocates of liberty, on the other hand, tend to be less conspicuous presences in the historical landscape and it is mainly through the intellectual agenda of Enlightenment thinking, which stresses equality, tolerance, personal liberty and democratic republicanism (all of which are accepted as self-evident by modern man), that the historical and intellectual antecedents of liberalism are identified and mapped. However, in spite of modern enlightened appreciation of liberalism and republicanism, freedom itself is not as self-evident and easy an asset of human life as one would like to believe. When Aristotle asserted that some people were born as slaves, he formulated as rule an observation that even modern man is not incapable of making. Liberty brings with it a burden of responsibility demanding both strength and ingenuity to curb the...
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