Masculinity in the Reformation Era

Scott H. Hendrix & Susan C. Karant-Nunn, eds.


These essays add a unique perspective to studies that reconstruct the identity of manhood in early modern Europe, including France, Switzerland, Spain, and Germany. (SCE&S 83)

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Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, Vol. 83

This volume adds a unique perspective to studies that reconstruct the identity of manhood in early modern Europe, including France, Switzerland, Spain, and Germany. The authors examine the ways in which sixteenth- and seventeenth-century authorities, both secular and religious, labored to turn boys and men into the Christian males they desired. Topics include disparities among gender paradigms that early modern models prescribed and the tension between the patriarchal model and the civic duties that men were expected to fulfill. Essays about Martin Luther, a prolific self-witness, look into the marriage relationship with its expected and actual gender roles.



Part One—Deviating from the Norms

A Married Man Is a Woman: Negotiating Masculinity in Early Modern Northwestern Spain.....Allyson M. Poska

The Reform of Masculinities in Sixteenth-Century Switzerland: A Case Study.....Helmut Puff

“The First Form and Grace”: Ignatius of Loyola and the Reformation of Masculinity.....Ulrike Strasser

Masculinity and Patriarchy in Reformation Germany.....Scott H. Hendrix

Part Two—Civic and Religious Duties

Father, Son, and Pious Christian: Concepts of Masculinity in Reformation Geneva.....Karen E. Spierling

Masculinity and the Reformed Tradition in France.....Raymond A. Mentzer

Rumor, Fear, and Male Civic Duty during a Confessional Crisis..... B. Ann Tlusty

Part Three—The Man Martin Luther

The Masculinity of Martin Luther: Theory, Practicality, and Humor.....Susan C. Karant-Nunn

“Lustful Luther”: Male Libido in the Writings of the Reformer.....Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks



Scott H. Hendrix is James Hastings Nichols Professor Emeritus of Reformation History and Doctrine at Princeton Theological Seminary. He chairs the planning committee of the International Congress for Luther Research and serves on editorial committees of several periodicals and monograph series. Recent books include Preaching the Reformation: The Homiletical Handbook of Urbanus Rhegius (2003) and Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization (2004).

Susan C. Karant-Nunn is professor of history and director of the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Arizona. She is coeditor of the Archive for Reformation History and author of The Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany (1997). She also coedited Luther on Women: A Sourcebook (2003). Her book, The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany, is forthcoming.


This is a rewarding collection of essays, which goes a substantial distance in helping to rebalance historical perspectives on gender roles and relations.... One of the features which emerges most clearly from this collection is the extent to which masculinity was in a process of “negotiation”—at least three articles use this term specifically. There also emerges a very real sense of the multiple, and sometimes conflicting natures of masculinity (we might even say masculinities). Much work remains to be done in this field, but this volume has taken considerable steps in establishing an agenda for future research.

—European History Quarterly

One of the great strengths of Masculinity in the Reformation Era is that it contains a number of essays that move beyond the elite world of learned men to examine the lives of ordinary people.

The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 2011

The study of history from a feminist point of view has led to more interest in what it meant to be a man.... The findings indicate that there might have been a standard for masculine behavior but few men fit it. Also, some work suggests that men felt less in control with the rise of a more controlling state. This led to a diminution of women’s roles as men needed someone to be superior to. An interesting collection.

Book News

What is seen as manly by a culture is a good window of that culture in general. Masculinity in the Reformation Era is a look back at the era as Western Christianity was split in two between the Protestants and Catholics. This split’s impact on the family and gender roles at the time is explained through some well written and intriguing essays that dissect the mind set of the male at that time, the status of chivalry, among other topics. Masculinity in the Reformation Era is highly recommended to any library focusing on gender issues or history in general.

Midwest Book Review

The essays in this new book edited by Reformation historians Scott H. Hendrix and Susan C. Karant-Nunn offer important and nuanced reconstructions of masculinity and manhood in Reformation Europe.… Essential reading for anyone studying gender, sexuality, marriage, and family relationships in early modern Europe.

Renaissance Quarterly

This collection of essays is best understood as a helpful first step in widening the range of inquiry about gender for Reformation history, especially for English-language scholarship.

 —Sixteenth Century Journal, Spring 2010

Such diverse investigations preclude comprehensive conclusions beyond acknowledging that masculinity in historical context is much more than patriarchy and power, a complex topic with multiple angles.

Church History, June 2010

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