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Enduring Loss And Memorializing Women: The Cultural Role Of Dynastic Widows In Early Modern Germany

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Chapter Summary

This chapter concentrates on women with long widowhoods, from mainly Lutheran dynasties, for whom the Crypto-Calvinism of the 1590s and the experiences of the Thirty Years' War were formative. It highlights the position of the dynastic widow and society's expectations of her and at how the social capital of the dynastic widow was centered on her reputation for piety. The chapter examines how a widow's books and publishing underpinned her authority and functioned as symbols of dynastic tradition. Dynastic widows confronted a sudden and often radical loss that had not just emotional but also immediate political and social consequences. Women's book collections played both an important role in their devotions and in the construction of their religious authority. The chapter explores how dynastic widows sought to structure their own funerals and inscribe themselves in dynastic memory, especially in moments of political or confessional crisis.

Keywords: dynastic widows; Lutheran dynasties



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