European Research Council Funded Project | 10 March, 2017
ERC Project: War and the Supernatural in Early Modern Europe. A study of the relationship between faith and warfare in 16th and 17th century Europe
The great religious wars that took place in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s have always fascinated historians. This project investigates what people at the time thought about these holy wars.
Europeans at this time did not possess a secular category: they divided their world between the supernatural, where God intervened directly, and the natural, where humans used the reason God had given them to build their own lives.
The project will focus on two groups of intellectuals – Reformed or Calvinist Protestants and the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church. Both these groups were accused by contemporaries of extremism; of drawing the supernatural too far into human life. For example, some Franciscans thought it was acceptable to convert Jews and Protestants by force, whereas most Catholics thought this was quite wrong.
Dr Campbell and his colleagues will concentrate on the Catholic and Protestant teachers at the great Renaissance universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Rome, Salamanca, and Heidelberg – translating their original writings. They will explore the connections between this university teaching and conversation about politics outside the universities.
The project will also track the emergence of more secular ways of thinking during the Enlightenment – which will cast light on our own ideas of the part that faith should play in politics.
A Senior Lecturer in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Dr Campbell is an historian of early modern Ireland and early modern political thought. After undergraduate and graduate training at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the University of Durham, he spent a year learning Latin at the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies, University College Cork (UCC), before completing his PhD at TCD in 2005.
He completed postdoctoral work at University College Dublin, UCC and the University of Cambridge, before moving to Queen’s in 2014.
As well as advancing understanding of early modern Europe, the project should advance learning of the origins of secularism – which underpins modern Europe. Anything that enhances our understanding of modern notions of governance and the interplay between religion and society is a good thing
The European Research Council funds high-quality scholarship – which in this case takes a long time and involves laboriously translating ancient and lengthy tomes. We live in a world of instant information, but much of that information is of a very low quality. The ERC reminds us that real knowledge takes time and effort to acquire.
The project will host two international conferences at Queen’s. These conferences will draw scholars of both Catholic and Protestant Europe together to compare the relationship between faith and warfare across multiple confessional cultures. Scholars of these different confessions do not engage with each other often enough
ERC funding affords the opportunity to attract high-quality academics from around the world to Queen’s for the lifetime of the project (2016-20). Dr Campbell leads a team of international experts:
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