Power in the Blood: Popular Culture and Village Discourse in Early Modern Germany

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This book offers a substantial reassessment of peasant society and popular culture in early modern Europe. The book is based on a series of episodes from village or small town life of the duchy of Wurttemberg in southwest Germany from 1580 and 1800, in which state authorities conducted a special investigation into local events. The cases and characters involved include peasants' refusal to celebrate church rituals; a self-proclaimed prophet who encountered an angel in his vineyard; a thirteen-year-old witch; a paranoid pastor; a murder; and the live burial of a village bull. Each case offers vivid insights into the state's attitude towards local communities and individuals, and the latter's conception of the state, as well as internal relations among the villagers. Throuhgout, the important but ambiguous role of the church and of religious ideology in the reformation and transformation of popular culture is made apparent.