The Reform and the Popular Culture: the reform of the popular preaching and popular festivities in the 16thcentury Netherlands

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S. Kovbasiuk


Transformation of social, political and religious environment taking place in 16th century in the Netherlands facilitated profound changes in the cultural paradigm established in the Dutch society. These changes were epitomized by the initiatives undertaken by the intellectual strata of the Dutch society, who aspired to «refine» the popular culture by the means of transformation or elimination of some of its components. In historiography this so called «refinement» is commonly referred to as «the Reform of Popular Culture». It originated in the works of humanists and was appended and extended in the practices and narratives created by the reformers and apologists of the Counter-Reformation. This article focuses two aspects of the Reform of Popular Culture: reforms in popular sermons and festivities. Humanists, reformers and adherents of the Counter-Reformation argued that popular preaching should be refined from exempla, tales of miracles, exuberant grimaces and body language designed mainly to provoke tears and laughter rather than to preach virtues of the Gospel in humility. In the same manner, intellectuals, reformers and even public leaders aspired to proscribe and root out excesses of public festivities and related traditions decried both by the Catholics and reformers as «pagan». However, the outcome of these endeavours had become noticeable in the Netherlands and the other European countries only in the age of Enlightenment and «Repression of the Popular Culture».

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