BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Polish and Lithuanian Early Modern Catholicism in the European Context

Fri8  Apr02:40pm(20 mins)
Linnett Room


Stanisław Witecki


The aim of the presentation is to compare post-Tridentine Catholicism in Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth with situations in other Catholic states, especially France, Spain, Malta, and Holy Roman Empire.

In the last decades, historiography shifted from focusing on countering reformation to intrinsic Catholic reforms. Researchers (Black, Ciappara, Forster, Hayden, Hoffman, Kamen, McNamara, and Scribner) adopted methods of social and cultural history. They investigated parochial practice rather than proposed ideal, used quantitative analysis of long-lasting changes, and focused on dioceses to avoid overgeneralizations. All of that revealed a variety of local differences as well as universal processes of clerical professionalization and a growing rift between piety of the elite and the people. There were similar advances in the scholarship of Polish-Lithuanian Catholicism (Batterwick, Główka, Kracik, Szczurowski, Wiślicz), however it has mostly remained in the isolation from the wider context. In result, the general history of Early Modern Catholicism is told without Polish and Lithuanian data. On the other hand, unique features of Catholicism in the Commonwealth have not been noticed.

I would like to discuss one characteristic which might have consequences in the shape of religiosity to this day. Poles and Lithuanians had bigger tolerance for popular piety despite the common education in the diocesan seminars.