Kerry K. Kuehn

Liberal Arts Reading Group--Dec. 8

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This week, we will be looking at a short introductory chapter of Paula Fichtner's book on religion and politics entitled Protestantism and Primogeniture in Early Modern Germany.
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This week, we will be looking at a short introductory chapter of Paula Fichtner's book on religion and politics entitled Protestantism and Primogeniture in Early Modern Germany. This chapter is available in pdf format by clicking here.

In Fichtner's book, she explores how the religious faiths of Lutheran and Catholic princes influenced how they distributed their lands when they died.

Notably, Fichtner observes that the Catholic emphasis on primogeniture (passing on property undivided to the firstborn son) led to politically consolidated and economically centralized Catholic lands. The Lutheran tendency to split their property among sons and brothers, on the other hand, led to fragmented and decentralized Lutheran lands.

Fichtner's thesis seems to run counter to the prevailing view that Lutheranism in particular led to increasing political and economic centralization in Germany.