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INTRODUCTION

Jesse Spohnholz and Gary K. Waite

In 1673 the Roman Inquisition began its investigation into the unusual case of Isaac Nabrusch, who, during his several periods of exile, confessed to having crossed the boundaries that normally delineated Judaism, Islam, Greek Orthodoxy and Catholicism, puzzling his investigators with his sincerity in each of his conversions. About a century earlier, the French Calvinist minister Jean de Lry (1534c. 1613) returned to France from exile in Brazil, then used his knowledge of the cannibalism of Brazils Tup people to critique the religious wars ravaging his home country. These are merely two examples, drawn from the thirteen essays in this volume, of individuals whose exile from their homeland for religious reasons allowed them, or perhaps forced them, to reconsider their individual religious identity. While doing so, some of them also began to rethink the nature of religion itself. For most, the experience of losing their home for the sake of the faith was traumatic, though they demonstrate a variety of reactions and experiences. The experiences of these exiles were hardly marginal to the larger developments taking place in the early modern period. After all, this was an era fundamentally marked by religious conflict, intolerance and persecution. During an era in which nearly every ruler in Europe assumed that the political and social order depended on securing some degree of religious uniformity within the territory, the frustrating persistency of religious dissent posed existential challenges for all.1 This was true for non-Christians living in Christian states, for instance Jews and Muslims in recently conquered Iberian territories, as well as for Christian minorities in post-Reformation Europe. How rulers and their subjects dealt with religious diversity varied greatly. While some rulers preferred to enforce confessional conformity, others developed reluctant strategies to tolerate the religious other to varying degrees.2 Yet nowhere was toleration embraced as a goal in and of itself; the activities of dissenters were always curtailed to some degree or another. Facing sometimes deadly or at the very least uncomfortable consequences of their dissent, religious minorities had to make the terrible choice between dissimulation and secrecy on the one hand or escape

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Exile and Religious Identity, 15001800

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into foreign lands on the other.3 If they did flee into exile, host communities had to determine if the newcomers threatened the well-being of locals. Men and women from across Europe stood on all sides of these divides, as roughly a million Europeans migrated as exiles between the 1480s and 1750s, while many more experienced exile as either persecutors or hosts.4 Italians and Spaniards moved north, Poles moved west, the English moved south and east and the French moved east.5 The European conquest of the Americas was also profoundly shaped by the experiences of religious refugees.6 The region perhaps most significantly affected by exile in the early modern period was the Low Countries, not only because tens of thousands of Netherlanders had fled into exile under the Habsburg rule, but also because the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands emerged as important asylums for refugees from across Europe.7 Most scholarship on exile in early modern history focuses on the Jewish diaspora and international Calvinism.8 Jews often responded to marginalization by creating opportunities to bridge religious and cultural differences between antagonistic groups, such as Christians and Muslims, or becoming cross-cultural brokers along global trade routes.9 For their part, the persecution faced by Calvinists forced them to organize apart from political authority, leading them to build international ties among coreligionists in exile.10 Starting in the early 1990s Heiko Oberman called attention to the reformation of the refugees, arguing that an outlook born of exile exerted enormous influence on John Calvin and Reformed Protestantism.11 Viewing themselves as perpetual refugees, Calvinists launched an international movement to reshape societies for the glory of God. Both Jews and Calvinists facing persecution during this period often found solace in seeing their trials mirrored in the exile experience of the ancient Israelites recounted in the Bible.12 Exile has also been treated from a larger macro-historical approach, as contributing to the processes of state building and confessionalization, the emergence of political liberalism and the spread of capitalist economic innovation.13 Despite the richness of these scholarly analyses, there have been limitations on the way scholars have understood exile in the early modern period. First, scholars have tended to focus on one religious tradition or region at a time, making comparisons less obvious. Second, scholars living in different parts of the world and writing in a variety of languages often do not engage with one another as much as they ought. Third, disciplinary boundaries, especially between literature and history, often divide scholars working on early modern exile. Finally, approaches that connect exile to processes of modernization can tend to de-emphasize the contingency of exile experiences and the diversity of ways that exile shaped worldviews. This volume responds to each of these limitations; the essays collected here turn to the intimate experiences of individuals or groups of exiles of different faiths in a variety of contexts. If some exiles strengthened their host state, others served as

Introduction

a thorn in the side of political authorities. If some exiles protected militant religious ideologies, others proffered potent critiques of intolerance. Finally, if some exiles bolstered local economics, others drained charity systems. In short, taken from a broad vantage point, no single history of exile in early modern Europe exists; rather, the authors in this collection point to the various ways that exile shaped religious identities both during the experience of exile itself, and in later years as former refugees (or their descendants) remembered their pasts. In general, the thirteen essays in this volume focus on the personal and individual aspects of identity re-formation faced by exiles. In some cases, the shared experience of persecution and exile bound coreligionists more tightly together than ever. The impulse to legitimize their decision to abandon their homes for their faith compelled many to become more zealous and more deeply committed to the religious identity that had forced the move in the first place. As noted above, scholars have identified this pattern in the history of Calvinism, but it could be the case for members of other confessions as well as, for instance, for Catholics in Protestant England and the Dutch Republic.14 Yet the opposite reaction could also be the case exile led some reform-minded individuals to become less doctrinaire and less anxiety-ridden about the reality of religious diversity in the early modern world. Such was the case with the spiritualist advocate of religious toleration, Sebastian Castellio, who after all was a religious exile in Basel as surely as John Calvin in Geneva.15 Regardless, in every case, the experience of exile transformed peoples understanding of their faith, and of themselves. Collected here are studies that tackle the question of how exile shaped people in the early modern world from a number of different angles and methodologies and that range geographically from the Catholic realms of the Mediterranean to Protestant northern Europe, to the newly conquered lands of South America. Their subjects focus on learned writers, peripatetic lay prophets and ordinary merchants and artisans caught up in the life-altering experience of exile. Our contributors sift through all sorts of evidence to comprehend the personal impact of exile on the religious identity of their subjects. Applying a number of methodologies that helpfully link social, cultural and intellectual history, our authors use letters, histories (including martyrologies, hagiographies and chronicles), church and state administrative and court records, laws, treatises, literature, educational records and attestations to understand the lives of early modern exiles, as well as the ways that those exiles understood their faith in the context of their travels. The editors have divided the contributions into three broadly coherent sections. The four essays in Part I, The Experience of Exile and the Consolidation of Religious Identities, describe the process through which experience of persecution and exile encouraged people to develop clearer bonds with their coreligionists. The essays gathered here show how this process worked in

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Lutheran, Catholic and Reformed communities alike. Hans B. Leamans contribution shows how this was true in the earliest days of the Lutheran movement in Reformation Germany. When evangelicals in Germany faced expulsion from their home towns in the 1530s and 1540s, pastors published consolatory letters, or Trostbriefe, aimed at fortifying the refugees resolve and encouraging individuals still living under hostile regimes to emigrate. Leaman analyses such letters by Urbanus Rhegius and Martin Luther, showing the theology of exile that both men developed to comfort fellow believers facing increasing pressure from German Catholic authorities. These writers promoted a distinct identity that embraced transience and marginality as marks of Christian fortitude while still permitting them to uphold the ideal of establishing a territorial church. Turning from the study of theory to practice, chapters by Liesbeth Corens and Katy Gibbons examine a comparable process for English Catholics living in exile in the Low Countries, the first from a communal perspective and the second on an individual level. Corenss contribution describes how the English Catholic community abroad retained a sense of belonging while living in exile in a confessionally similar host country. It argues that the veneration of saints shaped how exiled English Catholics understood themselves within the universal church and fostered a group identity for early modern Catholic exiles. Focusing intimately on the experience of one individual, Gibbonss chapter investigates the exile experience of Anne, the wife of the seventh earl of Northumberland, a member of a deeply Catholic family in post-Reformation England who found refuge in the Low Countries. Ann Percys engagement with projects close to the hearts of her fellow exiles from support for foreign Catholic invasions of England to printed polemic against the English government demonstrates how their removal from England allowed English Catholics to appeal to an international audience. The fourth contribution in Part I by Franoise Moreil examines this process for French Calvinists who fled from the territory of Orange to Berlin in 1703 and traces their identity into the early nineteenth century. Utilizing the registers of the poor house established in Berlin in 1704 to accommodate the most vulnerable of the refugees, this chapter surveys the experience of that foreign community and its efforts to become integrated. It reveals the complex webs of familial alliances woven by several generations of exiles; the idiomatic and slow process of integration of these families and how their native French language was progressively replaced by German; and the crucial role in these religious and cultural developments played by schools. In the end, these refugees built a new identity as the best of the Germans. In contrast to the essays in Part I, the five essays in Part II, The Experience of Exile and the Destabilization of Religious Identities, turn to examples of how the experience of exile could just as well destabilize religious identities. Mirjam van Veen questions the relationship between the experience of exile and

Introduction

the radicalization of Protestants in the Dutch Reformation. Her case study of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert reveals a man whose exile experience in the multiconfessional German Rhineland showed him an alternative example of religious moderation and compromise. When he returned to the Dutch Republic, he became a passionate defender of religious tolerance and an opponent of the confessionalized views of Calvinists. Even more challenging to notions that exile consolidated religious identities is the chapter by Toms de Mantecn, which examines the experiences of Isaac Nabrusch, who lived as a rabbi in Poland, a galley slave on Ottoman ships, a Byzantine Orthodox monk in Corfu and a Spanish soldier in Italy. He also went on a Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela before being investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1673. Using this intriguing case study, Mantecn reveals that religious boundaries in the early modern world were far more permeable than scholarship often allows, and this permeability helps explain the kind of toleration that Nabruschs life exemplifies. The same can be said for Justus Velsius, the Dutch spiritualist exile studied by Hans de Waardt. Velsius travelled across Europe but, rather than adopting a deeper identity that tied him to others, Velsius came to see himself as a prophet, developing remarkably eclectic views and ending his life in complete isolation. Such prophets were in a liminal position: like other exiles they travelled from one country to another, but in the process they could move from their original modest social standing into higher ones. If all went wrong, however, they could fall from the domain of sanity to that of madness. The final two chapters turn to more quotidian examples of people experiencing exile. Jesse Spohnholz returns to the question of Calvinism and confessional consolidation, arguing that this work has tended to take male experiences as normative. When viewed from the perspective of Dutch women in foreign lands, exile could be a far more destabilizing experience than scholarship has appreciated. For Dutch Reformed communities in Wesel and London, Spohnholz reveals how exile affected women differently than it did men. While it certainly offered new opportunities for public female engagement in church life, it also led to far greater insecurity for women, as refugee men abandoned wives and partners more than the other way around. Finally, Susana Truchuelos chapter focuses on religious minorities from France, England and the Low Countries living in Spain during the era of Philip IIs war against England. In the Basque regions on the Cantabrian coast, English merchants initially did not hide their origins, despite the potential dangers. Later generations, however, did so in their efforts to achieve political advancement and entry into the Spanish Catholic nobility. Some descendants of these English traders found themselves before the Spanish Inquisition for trading with French Calvinists. In contrast, converso merchants avoided political involvements and continued to hide their Jewish identities, while at the same time marrying into the local Catholic community.

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The essay thus reveals two different approaches to maintaining religious identity in a state of exile, and how religious and national identities blurred. The four essays in Part III, The Memory of Exile, conclude the volume by examining how the memory of exile shaped religious identities over time. The development of shared memories of past hardships and persecution provided a powerful way that dissenters came to understand themselves in the present. The first two of these deal with the blurry lines between Jewish and Christian identities in exile. Marta Albal Pelegrn applies a literary analysis to show how Spanish authors in Rome rethought ideas about what it meant to be marrano, and how their transposition of a Spanish conception of this problematical religious identity shaped how marranos understood their relationship with local political and religious authorities. Her writers, both exiled Jews and court diplomats, pushed the boundaries of religious identity to gain access to economic, political and papal privileges. For his part, Gary K. Waite explores how dissenters reshaped their religious identity by understanding themselves as undergoing a kind of inner exile, that is, by emphasizing internal spirituality and depreciating externals. Comparing the experiences of the conversos of Inquisition Spain and radical religious dissenters in the Habsburg Netherlands, his chapter explores moments of interaction between these two groups, who shared an interest in the Kabbalah and occult sciences. By 1600, he concludes, this interaction and the emergence of anti-trinitarian Socinianism helped encourage the spread of quasi-pantheistic ideas later associated with Baruch Spinoza and the radical Enlightenment. The last two essays focus on Reformed exiles exclusively, but do so from vantage points quite different from French Huguenots in Geneva or Dutch Calvinists in London. Alessandro Pastore focuses on the experience of a religious migration that shaped an Alpine valley between northern Italy and the Swiss canton of Grisons. Groups of Italian Protestants fled the Roman Inquisition to Valtellina, a region infamous for religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, culminating in the Sacro Macello (Holy Slaughter) of 1620. The essay examines the memory of exile and violence that left a profound mark on the identity of these Italian Protestant refugees. In the final essay, Jorge Daz Ceballos examines the fascinating case of the French Calvinist Jean de Lry, who arrived in Brazil in 1556 not an exile but as part of an expedition commanded by Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon. During the voyage, however, Villegagnon rejected Calvinism, and Lry and the other convinced Calvinists were expelled, forming their own expedition in exile to the land of the Indians, where Lry lived for about a year.He wrote his book History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil recounting this experience some twenty years later, immediately after the French crowns dramatic siege of the Huguenot fortress at Sancerre (15723). Daz Ceballos argues that both experiences are intermingled in Lrys work, and the example of

Introduction

his time with the Indians and his understanding of their culture shaped the way in which he perceived his own country and its confessional conflicts. The essays in Exile and Religious Identity argue that exile is a critical analytical framework for understanding the early modern world. Expulsion from ones homeland and alienation from its cultural values not only gripped those who crossed borders, but also preoccupied religious figures, political authorities and ordinary people concerned with strangers in their midst. The authors, however, do not seek to impose a single model of exile on their subjects. People simply did not cope with exiles challenges in the same ways. In order to appreciate this diversity, the authors aim to explore religious identity within its specific social and cultural contexts. This book suggests that tracking the experiences of exiles and migrants provides a valuable transnational perspective on early modern European religious and cultural movements. In these examples, the state-centred approach adopted by many historians is belied by the experiences of these early modern Europeans, for whom political boundaries were hardly a barrier to movement. We invite the reader into these thirteen captivating worlds to see how diversely people grappled with their hardships and how those experiences shaped how people came to understand their place in the world.

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