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Kirchengeschichte: Reformationszeit


Rademacher-Braick, Wilma


Frei und selbstbewusst. Reformatorische Theologie in Texten von Frauen (1523–1558).


St. Ingbert: Röhrig Universitätsverlag 2017. 664 S. = SOFIE. Schriften-reihe zur Frauenforschung, 21. Kart. EUR 69,00. ISBN 978-3-86110-642-5.


Peter Matheson

In the first section of the book by Wilma Rademacher-Braick biographical and bibliographical information about individual women reformers is offered; followed by a synchronistic and diachronistic evaluation of women’s texts in the Reformation. The number of women examinedis impressive: Argula von Grumbach, Ursula Weyde, Ursula Tetzel (her petition to the Nuremberg Council), Anna Tucher, Ursula Topler and Helene von Freyberg (private letters), Florentina von Oberweimar, Ursula von Münsterberg, Margareta von Treskow, Margareta Blarer (letters not extant), Elisabeth Cruciger (hymn-writer), Marie Dentière, Katharina Schütz-Zell, a group of women’s correspondents with Schwenkfeld, the petitions of Sabina Bader and Barbara Kieffer to the Augsburg and Strassburg Councils respectively, Ursula Jost, Anna Jans, Katharina Pfeiffer, Christina Laue and Katharina Kreuter (mentioned in court hearings and in a Volkslied from Mühlhausen), Elisabeth von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, and four anonymous texts.
It shall be noted that R.-B. does not restrict herself to pamphlet literature, and one of the strengths of this study is that many women activists in the Reformation movement are mentioned who had no opportunity to write. The pamphlet of Frau Graser is also mentioned, but this is a misunderstanding, »die graserin« being a common figure in popular poems and songs. It is an anonymous pamphlet.
R.-B. notes the different roles of female advocates of the Reformation as rulers or aristocrats, ex-nuns, wives of pastors, widows of printers, supporters of Anabaptism or of Schwenkfeld’s views. She is aware of the need to see their input alongside those of Catholic women who opposed the Reformation. She shares the consensus of most historians that the main contribution of women’s voices, after the initial enthusiasm of the 1520’s, was in the family sphere.
The book derives from a dissertation submitted in 2001 to the university of Koblenz-Landau. It has not been revised in the light of subsequent research or provided with an index. Unfortunately this limits its value. It does incorporate the sterling research of Elsie McKee on Schütz-Zell, for example, but a considerable amount of the biographical and bibliographical information on reformers such as Weida, Florentina von Oberweimar, and on Argula von Grumbach is outdated, or incomplete, or inaccurate. The important biblical references, for example, are only sketchily listed. Hence the book should be read in conjunction with the critical edition and recent biographies of Argula von Grumbach and with the work of Gisela Brandt, Dorothee Kommer, Elisabeth Spitzenberger, Su­sanne Greiter, Tom Scott, Jane Couchman, Ann Crabb and others.