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Studies in Early Modern German History

This series emphasizes new and fresh approaches to German history during the early modern Period: ca. 1400-1800. Including works translated from German and original works in English, the series introduces readers to some of the most innovative and creative books on subjects ranging from the history of madness and witchcraft, to the culture of drinking, the most powerful German merchant family of Renaissance times, and early German reactions to the discovery of America. These are not the conventional topics taught in schools but examples of the vitality and variety offered by historians of the Holy Roman Empire (the German language area).

Series Editor: H. C. Erik Midelfort


The Executioner's Journal

Joel F. Harrington

During a career lasting nearly half a century, Meister Frantz Schmidt (1554-1634) personally put to death 392 individuals and tortured, flogged, or disfigured hundreds more. The remarkable number of victims, as well as the officially sanctioned context in which they suffered at Schmidt’s hands, was... More


Hometown Religion

David M. Luebke

The pluralization of Christian religion was the defining fact of cultural life in sixteenth-century Europe. Everywhere they took root, ideas of evangelical reform disturbed the unity of religious observance on which political community was founded. By the third quarter of the sixteenth century, one... More


Enlightenment Underground

Martin Mulsow. Translated by H. C. Erik Midelfort

Online supplement, "Mulsow: Additions to Notes drawn from the 2002 edition of Moderne aus dem Untergrund": full versions of nearly 300 notes that were truncated in the print edition. Hosted on H. C. Erik Midelfort's website. Martin Mulsow’s seismic reinterpretation of the origins of the... More


Crossing the Boundaries of Belief

Duane J. Corpis

In early modern Germany, religious conversion was a profoundly social and political phenomenon rather than purely an act of private conscience. Because social norms and legal requirements demanded that every subject declare membership in one of the state-sanctioned Christian churches, the act of... More


Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany

Joy Wiltenburg

With the growth of printing in early modern Germany, crime quickly became a subject of wide public discourse. Sensational crime reports, often featuring multiple murders within families, proliferated as authors probed horrific events for religious meaning. Coinciding with heightened witch panics... More


Cautio Criminalis, or a Book on Witch Trials

Friedrich Spee. Translated by Marcus Hellyer. Introduction by Marcus Hellyer

In 1631, at the epicenter of the worst excesses of the European witch-hunts, Friedrich Spee, a Jesuit priest, published the Cautio Criminalis, a book speaking out against the trials that were sending thousands of innocent people to gruesome deaths. Spee, who had himself ministered to women accused... More


The Fuggers of Augsburg

Mark Häberlein

As the wealthiest German merchant family of the sixteenth century, the Fuggers have attracted wide scholarly attention. In contrast to the other famous merchant family of the period, the Medici of Florence, however, no English-language work on them has been available until now. The Fuggers of... More


Witchcraft and the Papacy

Rainer Decker. Translated by H. C. Erik Midelfort

When Rainer Decker was researching a sensational seventeenth-century German witchcraft trial, he discovered, much to his surprise, that in this case the papacy functioned as a force of skepticism and restraint. His curiosity piqued, he tried unsuccessfully to gain access to a secret Vatican archive... More


"Evil People"

Johannes Dillinger. translated by Laura Stokes

Inspired by recent efforts to understand the dynamics of the early modern witch hunt, Johannes Dillinger has produced a powerful synthesis based on careful comparisons. Narrowing his focus to two specific regions—Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier—he provides a nuanced explanation of how... More


The German Discovery of the World

Christine R. Johnson

Current historiography suggests that European nations regarded the New World as an inassimilable "other" that posed fundamental challenges to the accepted ideas of Renaissance culture. The German Discovery of the World presents a new interpretation that emphasizes the ways in which the new lands... More


Bacchus and Civic Order

B. Ann Tlusty

Lining the streets inside the city's gates, clustered in its center, and thinly scattered among its back quarters were Augsburg's taverns and drinking rooms. These institutions ranged from the poorly lit rooms of backstreet wine sellers to the elaborate marble halls frequented by society's most... More


Shaman of Oberstdorf

Wolfgang Behringer. Translated by H. C. Erik Midelfort

Shaman of Oberstdorf tells the fascinating story of a sixteenth-century mountain village caught in a panic of its own making. Four hundred years ago the Bavarian alpine town of Oberstdorf, surrounded by the towering peaks of the Vorarlberg, was awash in legends and rumors of prophets and healers,... More


Obedient Germans? A Rebuttal

Peter Blickle. Translated by Thomas A. Brady

Obedient Germans? A Rebuttal is a concise book, brimming with smart ideas and important, little-known information. It lays to rest the notion that ordinary people passively let 'history' sweep over them, instead of actively creating their own history. It is also a powerful antidote to some of the... More


Lost Worlds

Arthur E. Imhof

Publication of Lost Worlds introduces to English-speaking readers one of the most original and engaging historians in Germany today. Known for his work in historical demography, Arthur E. Imhof here branches out into folklore, religion, anthropology, psychology, and the history of art. Rooted in... More


Mad Princes of Renaissance Germany

Erik H. C. Midelfort

During the sixteenth century close to thirty German dukes, landgraves, and counts, plus one Holy Roman emperor, were known as mad- so mentally disordered that serious steps had to be taken to remove them from office or to obtain medical care for them. This book is the first study these princes, and... More