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Europe and the World in Transition - Essay Example

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Book Report Family and Society in Steven Ozment’s When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe In an extensive study on the history of family relations in Reformation Europe, Steven Ozment offers a revolutionary and thrilling interpretation of the social realities in Germany and Switzerland, in an age of staunch antifeminism and political absolutism…
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Europe and the World in Transition
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Europe and the World in Transition

Download file to see previous pages... Ozment’s historical investigation into the social pillars of Reformation Europe takes the reader straight to the origins of social cleavages between men and women, as well as to the roots of social and political hostilities between Catholics and Protestants. The book systematically uncovers the horizontal structure of European societies in the age of humanism, where the family was the highest manifestation of tranquillity, peace, trust and equality among its members. In this sense, Ozment’s work is innovative, because it challenges a popular stereotype which depicts the Reformation family as necessarily dominant and tyrannical. His historical discoveries create a revolutionary view of the family during the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland, and describe it as an empowering social unit, which transcended the narrow confinements of the home, and intersected with society. This brief report will critically approach two of Ozment’s most interesting arguments – his views on marriage in Reformation Europe, and the impact of marriage on the formation of families and communities. The remainder of this paper will approach the two themes separately and it will discuss their academic as well historic feasibility. First it is important to briefly mention the political and social context in which Ozment’s observations are made. The political reality of Reformation Europe was one of an absolute fusion of political power, absolutism and a dominant form of leadership. Women’s role in society was one of subjugation and passivity, and marriage was viewed by the Catholic Church as having the sole purpose of procreation and the subordination of the wife. The Protestant Reformation which started in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century in Europe challenged these realities, and for the first time marriage was institutionalized to become the pillar of society. Women’s creative power was the driving force behind the institution of marriage (Ozment 5-20). It is in the context of these major social and cultural transformations that Ozment makes his observations on the role of women and marriage in Germany and Switzerland. In this study, Ozment describes the Protestant marriage as opposite to the Catholic perception of marriage. He reveals that in the beginning of the Reformation, marriage was seen by Protestants and their supporters as a remedy for broken social and domestic relations: Protestants were faced with what they considered to be crisis of domestic relations, one that could be traced to the institutions of medieval religion […] To correct the situation, they (Protestants) exalted the patriarchical nuclear family, as the liberation of men, women and children, from religious, sexual and vocational bondage (Ozment 5-6) In this sense Ozment presents a very comprehensive view of marriage during the Reformation, not only as a stabilizer, but also as a liberator from the unnecessary and evasive religious conservatism of the Catholic Church. Ozment has captured the essence of marriage, as viewed at the early stages of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, and he explores it as a religious, as well as social antidote to hypocritical preaching of Catholicism for celibacy and penance. At the time Catholic marriage was viewed as a tool for social and individual subjugation of women, and the Catholic Chur ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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