Material Change

The Impact of Reform and Modernity on Material Religion in North-West Europe, 1780-1920

Edited by Jan De Maeyer and Peter Jan Margry

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Edited volume - hardback

Material Religion and Modernity in North-West Europe

The long nineteenth century (c.1780–c.1920) in Western Europe saw an unprecedented rise in the production and possession of material goods. The material culture diversified and led to a rich variety of expressions. Dovetailing with a process of confessionalisation that manifested itself quite simultaneously, material religion witnessed its heyday in this period; from church buildings to small devotional objects.

The present volume analyses how various types of reform (state, societal, and ecclesiastical) that were part of the process of modernisation affected the material devotional culture within Protestantism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism. Although the contributions in this book start from a comparative European perspective, the case studies mostly focus on individual countries in North-West Europe, namely Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

The concept of ‘material religion’ is approached in a very inclusive way. The volume discusses, amongst others, parish infrastructures and religious buildings that are part of land and cityscapes, but also looks into interior design and decorations of chapels, churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and  educational, charitable, and health institutions. It comprises the fine arts of religious painting and sculpture, the applied arts, and iconographic designs. As far as private material culture is concerned, this volume examines and presents objects related to private devotion at home, including a great variety of popular devotional and everyday life objects, such as booklets, cards, photographs, and posters.

Contributors: Carsten Bach-Nielsen (Aarhus University), Timothy Brittain-Catlin (University of Cambridge), Arne Bugge Amundsen (University of Oslo), Thomas Coomans (KU Leuven), Wolfgang Cortjaens (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin), Jan De Maeyer (KU Leuven), Jens Christian Eldal (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, Oslo), Anders Gustavsson (University of Oslo), Dagmar Hänel (Institut für Landeskunde und Regionalgeschichte, Bonn), Mary Heimann (Cardiff University), Antoine Jacobs (independent historian), Patricia Lysaght (University College Dublin), Peter Jan Margry (University of Amsterdam / Meertens Institute (KNAW)), Caroline McGee (Trinity College Dublin), Roderick O’Donnell (independent architecture historian), Wies van Leeuwen (architecture historian), Fred van Lieburg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Tine Van Osselaer (Ruusbroec Institute / University of Antwerp), William Whyte (University of Oxford).

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
Comparing Perspectives in Material Change: an Introduction 
Jan De Maeyer & Peter Jan Margry


Jan De Maeyer
1.1 Shaping Material Reform: ‘Pressure Groups’ in Great Britain and Ireland 
William Whyte
1.2A Varied and Remarkably Landscape of Pressure Groups: a Societal Debate as a Result in Belgium
Jan De Maeyer
1.3 Pressure Groups and Networks in the Multi-Denominational Netherlands 
Antoine Jacobs
1.4 The Institutionalisation of Christian Art and Architecture in Germany:  Protagonists and ‘Pressure Groups’
Wolfgang Cortjaens
1.5 Church Building Societies in Scandinavia 
Carsten Bach-Nielsen


Jan De Maeyer
2.1 Land Control and Development in the Politics of the Churches in the United Kingdom and Ireland
Timothy Brittain-Catlin & Roderick O’Donnell
2.2 Reconquering a Lost Visibility: Catholic Revival in Early Industrial Belgium
Thomas Coomans
2.3 Spatial Concepts in Religious Architecture and the Politics of Building in the German Countries
Wolfgang Cortjaens
2.4 Reforming Religious Material Landscapes in Nineteenth-Century Scandinavia 
Arne Bugge Amundsen


Timothy Brittain-Catlin
3.1 The Pugin Revolution and its Aftermath: the United Kingdom and Ireland 
Timothy Brittain-Catlin & Roderick O’Donnell
3.2 Gothic Revival: Style, Construction and Ideology in Nineteenth-Century Belgium
Thomas Coomans
3.3 To Induce a Beneficial Impression in Their Souls: Church Architecture and Interior Décor in the Netherlands
Wies van Leeuwen
3.4 The Dialectics of Religious Architecture and Liturgy in the German Countries
Wolfgang Cortjaens
3.5 The Lutheran State Churches of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Emerging Minorities
Jens Christian Eldal


Peter Jan Margry
4.1 Victorian Piety and the Revival of Material Religion in Britain
Mary Heimann
4.2 Reform and Change in Material Expressions of Catholic Devotion in Ireland 
Patricia Lysaght
4.3 The Material Expression of Everyday Religion in Belgium
Tine Van Osselaer
4.4 Societal Change and the Shifts in the Material Expression of Devotional Catholicism in the Netherlands
Peter Jan Margry
4.5 God’s Word Materialised: the Domestication of the Bible in Dutch Protestantism 
Fred van Lieburg
4.6 Pious Things: Popular Religiosity of the Nineteenth Century from the Perspective of Material Culture in Germany
Dagmar Hänel
4.7 The Impact of Religious Reform on the Material Culture of Popular Piety in Scandinavia
Anders Gustavsson

Colour Illustrations 

Format: Edited volume - hardback

Size: 280 × 225 × 35 mm

448 pages

ISBN: 9789462702820

Publication: December 22, 2021

Series: KADOC-Artes 19

Languages: English

Stock item number: 145909

Jan De Maeyer is professor emeritus of contemporary church history at KU Leuven and honorary director of KADOC-KU Leuven. His research focuses on political and social Catholicism, material Christianity, and the development of religious institutions and congregations.
Peter Jan Margry is professor of European ethnology at the University of Amsterdam and senior fellow at the Meertens Institute, a research centre of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam.

Jan De Maeyer and Peter Margry have edited a weighty, beautifully produced tome that is the culmination of a research project that began in 2008 and issued in five volumes on religion in northwestern Europe in the long nineteenth century. - David Morgan, SZRKG/RSHRC/RSSRC, 117 (2023), 401–478, DOI: 10.24894/2673-3641.00155