160 gious currents.3 As the heartland of Catholicism and seat of its spiritual leader, who at the same time ruled his own not insigni?icant political entity, Italy did not offer fertile ground for religious upheaval. Spain and Portugal were far removed, both geographically and culturally, from the Central European cradles of the Reformation. Moreover, their political history had been shaped by protracted struggle with Islam, in which they relied on support from the papacy and Catholic allies. As was the case among the Croats along another frontier of western Christianity, Catholicism had entrenched itself in public imagery and identity.4 The few dissenting voices were easily silenced through traditional means. In the very north of Europe, by contrast, rulers and subjects converged on the inverse resolution. The monarchs proved decisive for the conversion of Sweden, Denmark and England to Protestant polities, but they did not act in isolation. Reformist ideas had already penetrated these countries prior to royal intervention. Not even in England, whose religious reorientation under Henry VIII in the 1530s most openly bore the mark of monarchic self-interest, did the king impose the new creed on a reluctant population. In fact, the monarch’s theological standpoint remained ambiguous, and it was parliament that implemented and expanded the shift to Protestantism, which it also defended against subsequent attempts at Catholic restoration.5 In Sweden, and even more so in Denmark, Luther’s ideas had arrived via German pastors and merchants as well as Scandinavian students returning from Central European universities, long before the local kings saw it in their own best interest to back this development. There was resistance, to be sure, not only in segments of the church hierarchy, but also in more remote pockets of rural Sweden and especially in Danish-ruled Norway and Iceland. But this resistance did not articulate a popular mass rejection of the religious transformation. In northern Europe, the monarchs tended to attach themselves to a movement that was spreading rapidly in the general public, and even though of?icial support was instrumental in crushing Catholic hold-outs, it was not the government that implanted the Reformation in the bulk of the populace. 6 Whereas religious homogeneity and denominational congruence between ruler and ruled was largely retained on the northern and southern edges of West3 For an introduction to the diverse experiences of European reform movements, see Hsia (ed.): A Companion to the Reformation World. 4 For the Croatian experience, see Bahlcke: ‘Außenpolitik’, 193-209. 5 The literature on the English Reformation is far too extensive to be presented in detail here. For an introduction to major contributions in the second half of the twentieth century, see Collinson: ‘The English Reformation’, 336-360. Among important modern interpretations of different actors and in?luences were Dickens: The English Reformation; Elton: Reform and Reformation; Haigh: English Reformations; Lehmberg: The Reformation Parliament; Starkey: Henry VIII; MacCullough: The Later Reformation; and idem: Thomas Cramner. 6 For introductions to the history of the Protestant Reformation in Scandinavia, see Grell (ed.): Scandinavian Reformation; Larson: Reforming; and Brohed, Ingmar (ed.): Reformationens konsolidering.
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