Hull's Cultures of Knowledge
Dr Rita Voltmer - Apocalypse and Reform
Exploring the Libraries of Holy Trinity Church, St Mary Lowgate, Hull Grammar School, and the University of Hull Rare Books Collection
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the riders of the Apocalypse seemed to approach Christianity: war, with the advance of the Turks; plague, with the spread of the yet unknown deadly disease of syphilis; starvation and death, and, as consequences of weather disasters, deluge and drought. Additionally, Hussites and (alleged) witches spread heresy and blasphemy. Clerics as well as lay people, learned as well as unlearned, firmly believed that God’s wrath had come upon a sinful mankind. Astrologers and prophets read the omens well: menacing planet constellations and comets, rain from bloody crosses, as well as monster births, indicated that the End of Creation was on its way. According to many prophecies, the dark age of Saturn was looming, a century of misery and catastrophes, branded by melancholy. The new print media flooded the expanding book market with broad sheets and leaflets, dealing with prophecies and prodigies, with horrific narratives about the Turks, syphilis, and other threats. Faced by a menaced Christianity, from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the dawn of Reformation, the councils of Constance and Basle, as well as preachers themselves, demanded a universal reform of Christendom in head, body, and members, combined with demands for severe discipline both in religion and morals. Territorial lords and urban magistrates replied to these debates and demanded the expulsion or eradication of Jews and heathens, prostitutes and vagabonds, fornicators and gamblers, sodomites and blasphemers, heretics and witches. In their view Christian society had to be purified from sins and vices while Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century continued to follow this pattern, fearing the Apocalypse to come.
Book exhibition: 2.00-3.00pm
Book exhibition: 4.00-5.00pm