From christian friendship to secular sentimentality: Enlightenment re-evaluations

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Abstract

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries brought significant shifts in the way people thought and talked about friendship, and to some extent in the ways they experienced it. As in earlier periods, the political, economic and social context strongly shaped trends even in such an apparently personal relationship as friendship. The late sixteenth century had seen bitter civil wars over religion across Europe, after the Reformation, and sectarian tensions remained high through the seventeenth century. Many historians have linked these religious wars to the development of new structures of government, strong monarchies that little by little brought the great aristocratic families under their control and that in some cases also challenged the power of the Church. Many of the city republics of Italy, Germany and the Low Countries were taken over by princely dynasties, while increasingly powerful monarchies developed in Sweden, Spain, central Europe and England, then in France and later Prussia, dominating Europe both economically and militarily. The courts of these rulers became the new focus of political and cultural life, initially restricted to a very small aristocratic elite. The new monarchies, building on Renaissance models, understood the symbolic power of cultural and scientific patronage, founding scientific academies and actively encouraging the arts. This had unanticipated consequences.Friendship: A History

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFriendship: A History
PublisherEquinox Publishing
Pages165-214
Number of pages50
ISBN (Electronic)9781845537272
ISBN (Print)9781845531966
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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