ABSTRACT

Today, few historians would consider the changes that took place within the Roman Catholic Church during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as having comprised a ‘Counter-Reformation’, that is, as having simply been a reaction to the rise of a variety of new, alternative forms of Christian worship. Many question even the idea of a ‘Catholic Reformation’, preferring to consider what took place as part of a ‘renewal’, ‘refashioning’ or ‘periodic updating’ within the church.1 Moreover, as with those from a Protestant background who were dealt with in the last chapter, there were many in Christendom during the period who experienced some exposure to Catholicism yet whose world views are not best considered as ‘Catholic’. Nevertheless, an understanding of the methods applied by reformers elsewhere towards ensuring ‘confessionalisation’, as touched on in the last chapter, can provide some scope for comparison when seeking to comprehend the history also of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Roman Empire and in regions beyond, in early modern times. Most importantly here, it may help explain why, regarding the Austrian Habsburg lands and Poland-Lithuania, Catholicism had recovered its former dominance in most areas by the end of the period covered in this book.2