University of Erfurt

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt

Projekt von Sky Michael Johnston M.A.

Weather as a Window to Culture in Early Modern Germany: Religion, Science, and Popular Beliefs under the Same Sky

My project is an in-depth study of the relationship between culture and climate in early modern Germany. It uses perceptions of weather as a lens for bringing various groups in early modern Germany into a common view. The broad range of ideas about weather matched and, I contend, reflected the breadth of cultural influences in German-speaking lands of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Everyone interacted with the weather, but social factors such as class, gender, and ideologies informed individuals’ interpretations of it. My research will examine these different views and scrutinize their influences and relationships to each other within society. The study builds on existing scholarship in the fields of environmental history and the history of science, as well as studies on the topics of the confessionalization thesis, Lutheran apocalypticism, and the cultural history of early modern Germany. In Gotha, I will examine records that shed light on scientific or proto-scientific views on weather as revealed in treatises, especially on Aristotle. I will also examine whether theological sources of various kinds reveal any uniform or proscribed Lutheran attitudes towards weather. These elite views will be juxtaposed with findings that show popular beliefs about weather or common practices related to weather. Finally, an investigation of actual weather events and their relationship to ideas about weather will round out my research.

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