Dr. Martin Christ


Junior Fellow (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)


Weltbeziehungen / C19.03.29

+49 361 737-2809

Office hours

nach Vereinbarung

Visiting address

Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Dr. Martin Christ


Brompton cemetery

Submission of habilitation thesis "The power of the dead. Burials and Cemeteries in London and Munich, ca. 1550-1870" (completed) in June 2024

New publication (together with Benedikt Brunner): „The Moment of Death in Early Modern Europe, c. 1450–1800 Contested Ideals, Controversial Spaces, and Suspicious Objects” (Leiden: Brill, 2024). [https://brill.com/edcollbook/title/62879]

New article: ‘The London Bills of Mortality. State of the Art and Future Directions of Research’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute (2023), pp. 39–75.


  • 10/2022-04/2023 Parental leaves (50%)
  • Since 10/2018 Postdoctoral Researcher (Habilitand), Max Weber Centre (University of Erfurt), Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies "Religion and Urbanity" (FOR 2779)
  • 10/2017-09/2018 Teach@Tübingen Fellow, Tübingen University
  • 10/2013-09/2017 PhD (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council), University of Oxford. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Lyndal Roper, Thesis: Biographies of a Reformation: Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, 1520-1635
  • 10/2014-09/2015 Guest PhD Researcher at Technical University of Dresden. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gerd Schwerhoff (funded by Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung)
  • 10/2012-09/2013 Master of Letters (Distinction), St. Andrews, Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bridget Heal
  • 10/2009-09/2012 Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours), University of Warwick

Download detailed CV (pdf)

Research foci

  • Religious and Confessional Coexistence, especially in central Europe
  • History of Death and Burials
  • Urban History, especially England and Germany
  • Conversions, especially to Lutheranism
  • Group Formation in Historical Perspective

Current research project

Between conflict and contact: Hội An (Vietnam) and the “South China Sea”, c. 1500-1850

At least since Fernand Braudel's work on the Mediterranean, it has been an established method in historical studies to explore the sea as a multi-layered and multifunctional space that was of central importance both in reality and in the imagination. Research has shown that seas could function both as a contact zone and as a space of conflict and that early modern imaginations were essentially shaped by references to the seas. Historical spatial research has also discovered the sea as a space for itself and shown that, in addition to traditional understandings of shipping, trade and diplomacy via the sea, new perspectives on the spatial dynamics of bodies of water can also be opened up. 

The “South China Sea”, which connected trading and port cities in Southeast Asia, has received little attention in this field of research. It was also the sea across which many European powers travelled to trade and colonize territories in Asia. The project aims to test the approaches and theories developed for other inland seas, such as the Mediterranean, on the basis of the South China Sea. In particular, the fact that there were numerous islands in the “South China Sea” and that these were connected by the water represents an important difference to the better researched Mediterranean. Furthermore, the project aims to show that an approach based on the sea opens up new perspectives on this region and its global relationships. 

One of the key characteristics of port cities, such as those on the South China Sea, is their diversity. Older research explored the conflicts arising from the presence of diverse populations, but more recent research has painted a more complex picture of diversity in urban settlements, pointing to processes of negotiation and adaptation on the ground. While research on such complex urban formations and the groups that were formed there is well developed for major European cities such as London, Antwerp or Rome, work on urban diversity in non-European cities represents a research desideratum that is only slowly being remedied. The few works that deal with religious, linguistic or cultural diversity in Asia concentrate on areas that were strongly influenced by European colonialism, such as Goa or Manila. As a result, a Eurocentric perspective often persists.

Instead, this project will focus on a city that also had contact with European powers in the early modern period, but developed much more independent political structures and was in intensive exchange with other Asian countries. The trading city of Hội An, located in the center of present-day Vietnam, is an exemplary place to analyze urban heterogeneity. In addition to relations with Japan and China, the ruling Nguyen dynasty was also interested in expanding trade with Europe, which led to Hội An becoming a trade hub. Traders and missionaries from European and Asian countries settled in the city. The Vietnamese rulers allowed the traders to settle in the city and practise their religion relatively freely, which led to the construction of several Chinese temples, for example. The complex society of migrants, locals, missionaries and travelers in Hội An makes this city a perfect case study to understand how urban diversity led to peaceful coexistence, but also how it could turn into conflict. This allows research on urban diversity to be significantly expanded and nuanced.

Completed research projects

The power of the dead. Burials and Cemeteries in London and Munich, ca. 1550-1870 (completed)

The project focuses on two important urban centers of the early modern period, London and Munich, in order to analyze the profound changes in the treatment of dead bodies during the period under investigation. The comparison between Munich and London makes it possible to look at the dynamics of the repositioning of the dead and the associated ideas about urban space and urban society from a comparative perspective. The Anglican-influenced commercial metropolis of London and Catholic Munich make it possible to compare religious, economic and urban planning aspects. The project asks how the cities changed as a result of the reorganization of the dead during this period and how denominational and urban factors influenced each other.

One of the central theses of the work is that the significance of the dead for cities can only be correctly classified if the dead are analyzed in their entirety and the entire urban necrogeography is examined. This approach results in the reconstruction of “deathscapes”, which contain elements that were previously considered separately, e.g. urban, courtly, Jewish or dishonorable burial sites. The project sheds light on the various discourses, groups of actors, practices and spaces that played an important role in the reorganization of the dead. It also examines conflicts between different actors and disruptions in dealing with the dead, e.g. during plague epidemics or the Great Fire (1666). The project shows that the treatment of dead bodies always allows conclusions to be drawn about urban society as a whole. In order to conceptualize this change, the project works with Michel Foucault's concept of power and uses an adaptation of biopower, which shows that the dead had power over the living.


Biographies of a Reformation. Confessional coexistence and religious change in Upper Lusatia, ca. 1520-1635 (completed) 

This thesis examines how religious coexistence functioned in multi-confessional Upper Lusatia in Western Bohemia. It argues that the Lutherans and Catholics managed to find a workable modus vivendi by signing written agreements and negotiating regularly. This meant that the Habsburg King of Bohemia ruled over a Lutheran territory, of which he was aware, but he was not prepared to intervene decisively to reintroduce Catholicism. Lutherans and Catholics in Upper Lusatia shared spaces, objects and rituals. The Catholics adopted elements that had previously been considered an integral part of Lutheran confessional culture. The Lutherans were also prepared to integrate Catholic elements into their religiosity. Some of these overlaps were, as the sources suggest, unconscious, while others were a decided decision by the authors. But the stalemate between Lutherans and Catholics also meant that other religious groups could not be tolerated. Later generations of historians shaped this enforced coexistence into a clearer Reformation narrative. 

This project addresses three historiographical paradigms. First, the results show that the paradigm of the “urban Reformation,” in which cities are seen as centers of Lutheranism, needs to be reevaluated, especially in the cities of former East Germany, where much work remains to be done. Secondly, it shows that in a region like Upper Lusatia, which had no political center and a diverse and complex Reformation, there was only a limited process of confessionalization. As other studies have found similar tendencies in other parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the usefulness of the confessionalization paradigm is increasingly questionable. Thirdly, however, the example of the “Calvinists” reminds us that it is also not helpful to take the idea of tolerance too far in early modern Europe. In the case of Upper Lusatia, the coexistence of two denominations, Lutherans and Catholics, meant that others were excluded. 



  • Biographies of a Reformation. Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, c. 1520-1635 (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).

    Winner of the 2021 RefoRC Book Award, Winner of the 2021 Gerald Strauss Prize, Winner of the 2021 Ecclesiastical History Society Book Prize
  • Reviews (published by April 2023): Alexander Kästner (Historische Zeitschrift); Christophe Duhamelle (Francia Recensio); Graeme Murdock (Huguenot Society Journal); Friedrich Pollack (Lětopis. Zeitschrift für sorbische Sprache, Geschichte und Kultur); Christine Marianne Schoen (The Journal of Ecclesiastical History); Paul W. Knoll (Austrian History Yearbook)

Edited Volumes

  • Death and the City in Premodern Europe (with Carmen González Gutiérrez), Special Issue of Mortality. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Death and Dying (2022).
  • The Moment of Death in Early Modern Europe (with Benedikt Brunner), under contract in the series “Intersections” (Brill) (2023).
  • Early Modern Cultures of Death: Graveyards, Burials and Commemoration in Central Europe, c. 1500-1800 (with Petr Hrachovec and Jan Zdichynec), under consideration in the series “Studies in Central European History” (Brill) (2023).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘The London Bills of Mortality. State of the Art and Future Directions of Research’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute (2023), pp. 39–75.  
  • ‘Text, Image and Music: The Hymns of Martin Behm (1557–1622) and Religious Education in Context’, in: Hyun-Ah Kim (ed.), Music and Religious Education in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2023), pp. 169–197.
  • ‘The Conversion of Gottfried Rabe: Visual Propaganda and Conversion in Early Seventeenth-Century Germany’, Renaissance Studies (2023), pp. 36–56.
  • Entangling Urban and Religious History: A New Methodology (Version 1) (with Martin Fuchs, Elisa Iori, Sara Keller, Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Klara-Maeve O'Reilly, Susanne Rau, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano R. Urciuoli, Simone Wagner). Zenodo (2022) https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7002796
  • ‘Co-Spatiality in the Early Modern European Bedchamber’, Religion and Urbanity Online (2022).
  • ‘Between Divine Intervention and Urban Authority: The Gute Policey in Early Modern Baltic Towns’, Religion and Urbanity Online (2022).
  • with Saskia Limbach, ‘Möglichkeiten und Grenzen konfessioneller Koexistenz. Briefwechsel, Studien- und Druckorte Oberlausitzer Geistlicher in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte (2022), pp. 233–265.
  • ‘Friedhöfe in gemischtkonfessionellen deutschen Städten der Frühen Neuzeit’, Zeitschrift für Moderne Stadtgeschichte (2022), pp. 23–38.
  • ‘Preaching During Plague Epidemics in Early Modern Germany, c. 1520–1618’, Studies in Church History (2022), pp. 91–111.
  • ‘Sensing Multiconfessional Towns in Early Modern Germany’, German History 40/ 3 (2022), pp. 317–339.
  • ‘Introduction: Death and the City in Premodern Europe’ (with Carmen González Gutiérrez) Death and the City in Premodern Europe (Special Issue: Mortality, 2022), pp. 129–143.
  • ‘Regulating Urban Death in Early Modern German Towns’, Death and the City in Premodern Europe (Special Issue: Mortality, 2022), pp. 206–221.
  • ‘Converting Tondalos: Pilgrimages, Music and Sound in Early Modern Lutheranism’, in Matthew Laube et. al. (eds.) Theatres of Belief, Music and Conversion in Early Modern Europe (Brepols, 2021), pp. 25–43.
  • ‘Between Ego Documents and Anti-Catholic Propaganda. Printed Revocation Sermons in Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Germany’, in Nina Lamal, Jamie Cumby, Helmer J. Helmers (eds.), Print and Power in Early Modern Europe (1500–1800) (Brill: Leiden, 2021), pp. 390–406.
  • ‘Das Jahrhundert der Reformation in einer lausitzischen Kleinstadt. Lauban und seine lutherischen Prediger, ca. 1520–1620’, Neues Lausitzisches Magazin 142 (2020), pp. 47–81.  
  • ‘Conflict and Coexistence. The Case of Early Modern Upper Lusatia’, in Gerhild Scholz Williams, Sigrun Haude, Christian Schneider (ed.), Rethinking Europe: War and Peace in the Early Modern German Lands (Chloe. Beihefte zum Daphnis; Brill, Leiden 2019), pp. 215-233. 
  • with Friedrich Pollack ‘Die Reformation der Sorben. Chancen und Probleme einer akteurszentrierten Perspektive‘, in Friedrich Pollack, Lubina Mahlig, Susanne Hose (eds.), Reformation und Konfessionsbildung bei den Kleinen Völkern Ostmitteleuropas. Die Lausitzen und das Baltikum im Vergleich (Schriften des Sorbischen Instituts 67, Domowina Verlag: Bautzen, 2019), pp. 111–126.
  • 'Labeling Ethnicities: Das Beispiel der Sorben in der Frühen Neuzeit‘, in Matthias Bähr, Florian Kühnel (ed.), Verschränkte Ungleichheit. Praktiken der Intersektionalität in der Frühen Neuzeit (Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Beihefte, Band 56, 2018), pp. 120-152.
  • 'Between Domestic and Public: Johann Leisentrit’s (1527-1586) Instructions for the Sick and Dying of Upper Lusatia’, in Marco Faini, Alessia Meneghin (eds.), Domestic Devotions in the Early-Modern World (Intersections; Brill: Leiden, 2018), pp. 82–107.
  • ‘Von Kühen, Ketzern und Chimären. Zur Darstellung religiöser Persönlichkeiten des frühen sechzehnten Jahrhunderts in den Ratsannlen des Johannes Hass‘, in Lars-Arne Dannenberg, Mario Müller (ed.), Stadtchronistik in den Lausitzen in vergleichender Perspektive (Beihefte zum Neuen Lausitzischen Magazin 19, Hildesheim 2018), pp. 131-151.
  • ‘Catholic Cultures of Lutheranism? Confessional Ambiguity and Syncretism in Sixteenth-Century Upper Lusatia’, in Kat Hill (ed.), Cultures of Lutheranism: Reformation Repertoires in the Early Modern World (Past and Present Supplements 12), 2017, pp. 165-188.
  • ‘The Town Chronicle of Johannes Hass: History Writing and Divine Intervention in the Early Sixteenth Century’, German History, 1/2017, pp. 1-20.

For the General Public

with Sara Keller, Jörg Rüpke, Erfurt, the Blue City | Die blaue Stadt (Erfurt, 2020).

Reviews and Conference Reports

  • Francia recensio
  • traverse. Zeitschrift für Geschichte
  • European History Quarterly
  • History. The Journal of the Historical Association
  • Bulletin of the German Historical Institute
  • H-Soz-Kult
  • German History
  • Historische Zeitschrift
  • Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung

Blog Posts