STERKHOV D.V. God, King, Fatherland – and Elections. The Introduction of the Municipal Self-Government in Prussia in 1808 Seen Through the Perspective of the Protestant Sermon

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.5.2 

Dmitrii V. Sterkhov

Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor,

Department of History of Medicine and Social and Humanitarian Studies, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University,

Ostrovityanova St, 1, 117997 Moscow, Russian Federation

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3173-793X 


Abstract. Introduction. The current study focuses on a number of sermons preached by the Prussian Protestant ministers on the occasion of the first municipal elections in Prussia in 1809–1810. The paper seeks to show that the Prussian Protestant clergy supported the introduction of the municipal self-government and inspired the population to take part in elections.

Methods. The paper presents a case study dealing with the problem of the interaction between religious and political spheres in the early nineteenth century. This gives rise to the interdisciplinary approach adoptedin the current study.

Analysis. Prussian Protestant preachers combined religious symbols with liberal vocabulary advancing the thesis that a good Christian is an honest citizen. The sermons abounded in such terms as “public spirit”, “civic responsibility” or “love of the Fatherland”. God was directly involved in the earthly politics since the municipal self-government was regarded as a divine gift from heaven. The Holy Spirit was thought to be present at municipal elections watching over the minds and the hearts of citizens. Prussian Monarch Frederick William III was stylized in the sermons as a typical “citizen King” who respected the rights of his subjects. The Prussian Kingdom was imagined as a big family with the King as the Father of the nation, the Prussians being his grown-up children. The introduction of the municipal self-government was thus described as “coming of age” of the Prussian people.

Conclusion. The case study of the Protestant clergy supporting the liberal reforms conducted by the Prussian government proves that modernization did not always mean secularization.

Key words: Stein-Hardenberg reforms, modernization, secularization, sermon, Municipal Ordinance of 1808, Frederick William III, religion and politics, Prussian Reform Movement.

Citation. Sterkhov D.V. God, King, Fatherland – And Elections. The Introduction of the Municipal Self-Government in Prussia in 1808 Seen Through the Perspective of the Protestant Sermon. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 20-31. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.5.2.

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God, King, Fatherland – and Elections. The Introduction of the Municipal Self-Government in Prussia in 1808 Seen Through the Perspective of the Protestant Sermon by Sterkhov D.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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