Competing Models of Heroism and the Hero in England and France, ca. 1580–1630, in a Comparative Perspective: Monarch, Soldier, Martyr, Religious Warrior
Department of History
The objective of this project is to compare competing models of the hero (and heroine) as well as various forms of heroism in France and England in the time between ca. 1580 and 1630: Marked by the bitter religious conflict which reached its high point in Western Europe at the end of the 16th century, antithetical concepts and ideas of the heroic stood at odds as had seldom occurred before. This project will therefore systematically investigate the coexistence and conflict between different types of heroes and the heroic, especially in terms of their role model characteristics for monarchs and elites. Simultaneously, a possible internalization of the heroic habitus in the 17th century as well as a de-heroization of the religious believer will be investigated. This project has two emphases: Firstly, it will concentrate on heroic role models in the context of the military. At first glance, France and England constitute extreme opposites. While the domestic disputes in France continued as civil war type conflicts after the end of the religious wars and local feuds carrying on at least until the end of the 1620s, between 1604 and 1625 the English nobility had no opportunity to gain experience in a civil war. They were more likely to find role models in their past and abroad on which they could stylize themselves as soldiers and heroes. Secondly, competing models of heroic conduct for England and France at the turn of the 17th century will be investigated from a perspective reaching beyond the social and cultural history of war. During this process, both the self-presentation of the monarch and the competing ideas of the heroic, such as that of the martyr, will be included. The internalization and sublimation of religious militancy will, however, also constitute an important area of investigation. Because asceticism and ostentatious piety at times went hand in hand with the religious struggle, specific feminine forms of religious heroism developed.