Şener Aktürk – Koç University

POLITICAL ORIGINS OF RELIGIOUS HOMOGENEITY IN WESTERN EUROPE

In this paper, it is argued that the relative religious homogeneity, which is still observed in Catholic and Protestant polities, resulted from a unique security dilemma that the European monarchs faced during the Middle Ages. The existence of an extraterritorial religious authority with punitive powers (e.g., crusades, excommunication, interdict), the papacy, which lobbied for religious homogenization in an environment of fierce interstate competition without a hegemonic power, compelled the monarchs to convert, expel, or kill their non-Catholic subjects. As a result, Western European polities had almost entirely Catholic populations by the 16th century. The paper demonstrates this mechanism by focusing on the interaction between the papacy and the local monarchs in the eradication of non-Catholic populations in four European polities: Sicily and Southern Italy (1091-1300), France (1209- 1244), Portugal and Spain (1085-1526). The religious homogenization of the region, which has not been studied as a puzzle before, sheds light on the medieval origins of the nation states, international system, and the impact of internal crusades on European state formation.



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