Conference: The Responsible Society in Early Modern Christianity

Voices & Fruits

Social responsibility as the moral obligation individuals or organizations have towards the wellbeing of society, is a key topic in 21st century public debate. The conference centers on the question how this topic was dealt with in Early Modern Christianity (ca.1400-ca.1700) as a period that brought about fundamental and long-lasting changes and brought forth inspiring individuals with innovative ideas. The conference seeks to shed historic light on the relevant issue of social responsibility in the expectation that academic research comes up with inspirational results. The conference is interdisciplinary and comparative regarding various geographical and confessional positions.

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The conference centers around two main topics: voices and fruits and concentrates geographically on Italy, Northwest Germany and The Netherlands. Papers under the topic voices present ideas, concepts, visions of early modern philosophers, theologians, politicians, artists, writers, poets etc. as well as the ideas monastic orders, guilds, agricultural communities and (radical) religious minorities had. Here the question is what concepts of social responsibility were presented? Special attention will be given to voices that move beyond the traditional ideas of care for the poor, widows and orphans, and that focus on changing the mindset of those that can take responsibility and of those that are the object of social responsibility. Papers on the second topic fruits deal with the question: Which ‘voices’ were heard and brought into practice? So: which projects were undertaken and what was their success or failure? What was done to encourage social responsibility? Case studies of examples of practical initiatives taken by individuals, groups or political authorities will be presented, and early modern proposals intended to stimulate awareness of social responsibility through education in family or school, through preaching in church, and through teaching at universities.


For the program of June 13, 2022 please go the website of the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rom and register here for the conference on June 13.

Venue on Monday June 13, 2022
Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rom
Via Aurelia Antica, 391
I-00165 Rome



Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR)
Via Omero, 12
I-00197 Rome

SESSION 3          Chair: Matthijs Jonker

09.45-10:30          Carlo Taviani, University of Zurich

Limited Liability, Limited Responsibility. Early Modern Global Corporations, Capital Investments, and Moral Issues


10.30-11.00           Break


SESSION 4          Chair: Herman Selderhuis

11.00-11.45            Martine Veldhuizen, Utrecht University

Feisty Virgins: Truth-telling as a Concept of Social Responsibility in the First Printed Editions of the Dutch Golden Legends (1450-1500) 

11.45-12.30            Lotte van Hasselt, University of Amsterdam

The ‘deserving’ Refugee in the Dutch Republic


12.30-14.00           Lunch (catering)


SESSION 5          Chair: Karla Boersma

14.00-14.45           Marianne Ritsema van Eck, The Norwegian Institute in Rome

Time and Responsibility. Franciscan Roles in History

14.45-15.30           Kyle Dieleman, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights

Creating and Navigating Social Inequalities in Early Modern Dutch Colonies


15.30-16.00           Wrap up, followed by a reception



Plenary Speakers
Volker Reinhardt (University of Friburg)
Wolfgang Reinhard (University of Freiburg)
Marianne Ritsema van Eck (Leiden University)
Arno Witte (University of Amsterdam)


The conference is sponsored by the Coram Deo Program.

For more information on the conference you may contact Herman Selderhuis (President of REFORC) via email.


The Organizers
Matthijs Jonker (KNIR),
Alexander Koller (DHI),
Herman Selderhuis (REFORC),
Klaus Unterburger (Uni Regensburg/DHI),


Visual: Elisabeth of Hungary serving the sick, by Christiaen Gillisz van Couwenbergh, 1640. Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, RMCC s9, Photo Ruben de Heer.