Ghost Nations of Russia’s Civil War.

Frank Jacobs has posted a wonderful annotated map about some little-known splinters of the Russian Civil War:

Those circumstances gave rise to dozens of ephemeral states, mostly at the former Empire’s fraying edges. Some lasted only weeks, other several years. All were eventually absorbed into the U.S.S.R.

This map lists only 28. As map creator /u/pisseguri82 says: “I specifically omitted (states) that are still around – various Red, White, monarchist and others, or incarnations of them anyway. This is about the nations most people haven’t heard of”.

And boy, they’re not kidding. I’ve read a lot about the period, but most of these short-lived entities were new to me: the Republic of Uhtua? North Ingria? the Republic of Perloja? the East Lemko Republic? Green Ukraine (which “was nowhere near actual Ukraine”)? This is a feast for lovers of obscure backwaters of history. And to give it a linguistic fig leaf, I’ll mention that “Idel” in the Republic of Idel-Ural (which “only ever controlled parts of Kazan, its prospective capital”) is a Turkic name of the Volga River (cf. Tatar Idyl, Kazakh Edyl, Chuvash Adyl, etc.). Thanks, Yoram!

Comments

  1. SFReader says:

    My favorite is the South-East Confederation of Cossack Hosts, Highlanders of Caucasus and Free Peoples of the Steppes proclaimed in Vladikavkaz on October 20, 1917.

  2. My great grand uncle was a prosecutor in Donetsk Krivoy Rog Republic, while another one was jailed by VSYuR

  3. I’m not focused on Russian history, but still surprised I had never thought about these splinter nations earlier. I learnt of these only recently when I saw a video by a map maker on YouTube.

    https://youtu.be/t77368i6V9I

  4. I hadn’t heard the story of where Makhno ended up, as a stage carpenter at the Paris Opera.

  5. Marja Erwin says:

    In addition to Donetsk-Krivyy Rih, this could use the Sovyet Republic of Chihirin, nearby, the Republic of Kholodnyy Yar, the Partisan Republics of Bashtanka and Vysuns’k, and at the opposite end of the scale, the Tsardom of Ur…

  6. Ooh, those sound great — you should contact /u/pisseguri82!

  7. If we are going for the weirdest…

    There was a theocratic Buryat state in Transbaikal region called Kodunai erkhij balgasan (Kodun state). Kodun is the name of river and mountain there.

    The “Kodunai erkhij balgasan” state was a theocratic monarchy led by the king – lama Lubsan-Sandan Tsydenov who proclaimed himself Tsog-Tuguldur Dharma Raja-Khan (King of Three Worlds, Lord of Dharma).

    As befits truly Buddhist theocracy, the state didn’t have an army and in fact decreed that all devout Buryats should abstain from joining the Red Army or the White Army, but instead should just stay peacefully at home during all this madness.

  8. Absolutely fascinating! Apparently “Green Ukraine” was the name given to heavily Ukrainian-settled regions of the Far East of Russia, with “Yellow Ukraine” being heavily Ukrainian-settled regions in the vicinity of the Volga, and “Grey Ukraine” being heavily Ukrainian-settled regions in the vicinity of Omsk and adjacent areas of Northern Kazakhstan.

    Oh, on the subject of “Green Ukraine”: I very dimly recall reading an exchange (late nineties?) between two scholars in an English-language journal of Slavic studies/linguistics (?): it involved a book on the history of Ukrainian settlement in the Russian Far East, which one scholar thought too “parochial” (on account of its being written in Ukrainian) to be relevant to Slavic scholars in general, with their scholarly opponent claiming that, Ukrainian being the demographically most important Slavic language after Russian, Slavic scholars unwilling to acquiring a reading knowledge of Ukrainian were the ones who should be accused of parochialism. Does this ring a bell to anyone?

    SFReader: actually, this Buryat theocracy seems to have had very wise political leaders, who decided to hedge their bets: a policy of neutrality during the Red versus White civil war meant that, whoever won, the Buryats would not have to pay the horrific cost which the ethnic groups/political factions who backed the losing side ultimately did pay…

  9. Annette Pickles says:

    Any truth to the notion that this group of names for the Volga (Tatar Идел, Chuvash Атӑл, Turkish İdil, etc.) comes from the name of Attila the Hun?

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Slavic scholars unwilling to acquiring a reading knowledge of Ukrainian

    …doesn’t… everyone who is reasonably fluent in any Slavic language and any version of the Cyrillic alphabet already have a reading knowledge of Ukrainian?

  11. David: If the Slavic scholars are not linguists, or indeed are linguists uninterested in/ignorant of historical linguistics, then reading an entire book in Ukrainian might well be impossible if they haven’t specifically studied the language. This is even truer if the Slavic language they do “know” is not thoroughly mastered. Also, my understanding (can any hatter confirm this?) is that standard Ukrainian has such a large number of borrowed Polonisms that even native Russian-speaking historical linguists can find Ukrainian scholarly prose difficult if not (at times?) impenetrable.

  12. Marja Erwin says:

    I don’t speak any of the Slavic languages, I end up leaning on translation software with all its bugs. But Ukrainian month names may be unfamiliar, or may be familiar but out of sync. And Ukrainian directions may be unfamiliar.

  13. David: as a biologist with an excellent command of historical linguistics I think you may be overestimating the mental flexibility and/or curiosity of most non-linguist academics whose work requires knowledge of foreign languages. I once translated a few paragraphs of Portuguese prose for a professor of Spanish literature (A native speaker of English, but whose command of Spanish seemed quite adequate: comparatively young, with a PhD from a VERY prestigious University), who, to ensure accuracy, had asked both me and a visiting professor from Portugal to translate it: both our translations were in substance identical, but the Spanish literature specialist preferred mine, as it was in grammatically correct (and, I like to think, smooth) English.

    Later, the professor in question almost literally had a heart attack upon learning from me that A-I had never formally studied Portuguese in my life, B-I had, in order to write up the translation, consulted a dictionary for three or four words only, C-I had never bothered to use a reference grammar, and D-The task took me about twenty minutes.

    Upon asking me how on earth I could read a language I had never studied I tried to explain that knowledge of historical Romance linguistics (especially sound changes) made the task quite easy. Well, this professor (young, PhD from a very prestigious University, remember!) did not understand me. Really. I tried to explain, several times, but a historical linguist’s way of looking at language was not just something this professor of literature had never been exposed to: it was utterly incomprehensible. Literally. To this day I suspect that the impact of my words was no different than if I had spoken in Sumerian on the philosophical ramifications of quantum physics.

    To this specialist in Spanish literature, each “language” (translation: standard written language with a body of prestigious writings which exists solely to test whatever theoretical fad dominated/dominates their Alma Mater) is a separate, unchanging entity which must be systematically studied in order for its spirit to be understood. The very notion that languages change was something that was…very dimly… grasped…but that such changes are regular and follow an internal logic? That Spanish, Portuguese and the other Romance languages had all once been the same language? That, if one knows the historical rules, one can understand a great deal of a Romance language without ever having studied it?

    No: all quite beyond the pale. Had it not been for the evidence (i.e. the fact that my translation matched, in content, that of the visiting Portuguese professor’s) I honestly doubt this Spanish literature scholar would even have tried to understand my point. In the end I think this professor explained it as luck, witchcraft or some combination thereof.

  14. No: all quite beyond the pale.

    Deeply depressing. I can’t say I’m surprised, exactly, but still… depressing.

  15. SFReader says:

    It is very easy for a Russian to learn to read in Ukrainian. Takes hours and days to start reading, days and weeks to attain comfortable reading speed.

    Learning to speak or write it correctly might take a few years, though.

  16. David Marjanović says:

    OK, but that’s literature, where you really miss something if you only figure out what the topic is. The comparison I had in mind was me making it, with great effort, halfway through this thesis in Swedish, probably not knowing most of the regular sound correspondences and definitely not understanding the topic of every sentence – the Slavic languages are all noticeably more similar to each other than Swedish is to German or English.

  17. Learning to speak or write [Ukrainian for a Russian] correctly might take a few years, though.

    I have been reading British English almost my whole life, I think since age seven. (I was, according to report, reading American English three years earlier.) But I would be as utterly incapable of writing it, without a grammar book and a dictionary, as the Sumerian that Etienne mentioned. And even then I would make many mistakes and require help from a proper native speaker.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    That Spanish, Portuguese and the other Romance languages had all once been the same language?

    Wait. Of course few people know that regular sound changes are a thing, as opposed to, y’know, random laziness and random misunderstandings catching on, not to mention “mixture”. But I thought it was common knowledge that the Romance languages “come from Latin”?

  19. Why no. If they have similar syntax, it is due to Universal Grammar, y’know.

  20. Judging by literature lists I encounter in Russian works, relevant Ukrainian sources are cited as a matter of course without even bothering for translation.

    Older generation of Russian linguists and historians used to read Polish fluently too, but this is not true for younger generation – they would only read Polish literature in English translation.

  21. Let’s do some illustration here.

    I chose Slavyanskoe i Balkanskoe yazykoznanie: Problemy yazykovykh kontaktov, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1983.

    First article by A.V.Desnitskaya on Paleobalkanistika and Albanian language. Cites works in Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian (only non-Russian Slavic languages are listed from now on).
    I.A.Kaluzhskaya and V.E.Orel on Albanian language. They cite sources in Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian.
    V.E.Orel on Albanian language. Cites Bulgarian works.
    L.A.Gindin on Homer. Doesn’t cite Slavic sources.
    O.N.Trubachev on ancient Roxalan people. Doesn’t cite Slavic sources.
    V.N.Toporov on Jordanes Getica. Cites several sources in Polish.
    O.N.Trubachev again on Illyrians. Cites several sources in Polish.
    V.V.Ivanov on Hattic (yes!). Doesn’t cite Slavic sources.
    Yu.V.Otkupshikov on Pre-Greek substrate. Cites Bulgarian works.
    V.P.Yavlenko on etymology of Issa. Cites Serbo-Croatian sources.
    V.V.Ivanov on Balkan philology. Cites Czech and Polish works.
    V.N.Toporov on Russian folklore hero Svyatogor. Cites Belarussian, Czech, Bulgarian and apparently Macedonian sources. (the Macedonian text is cited from Bulgarian work and claimed as Bulgarian)

    Got to about half of the book and I think should stop now. The question is settled, I think.

  22. David: It isn’t. In my experience, when describing my own research to colleagues at various Universities (literature specialists, typically), one of the first things I have to explain is that English, unlike French or Spanish, does not come from Latin. Since most have never studied Latin this ignorance is unsurprising. Others do not grasp the difference between descent from Latin and borrowing Latin words and structures, and thus cannot reconcile claims that English does not come from Latin and that many English words come from Latin.

    I cannot stress too heavily something you seem not to want to accept: most scholars in the humanities are not scientists. Really. The notions of “True”, “False”, “Proof” quite simply do not apply to their research. Indeed these and related notions appear incomprehensible to most. Add to this an agressive hostility to history (widely perceived as a matter of ideology, not of reality) and a blind commitment to whatever theoretical model they were trained in, and you get a so-called scholar whose mentality is remarkably similar to a creationist’s.

  23. David Marjanović says:

    Why no. If they have similar syntax, it is due to Universal Grammar, y’know.

    I must have suppressed that memory.

    In my experience, when describing my own research to colleagues at various Universities (literature specialists, typically), one of the first things I have to explain is that English, unlike French or Spanish, does not come from Latin.

    That’s the opposite problem, though: they know that Romance languages come from Latin, they’re just unclear on which languages are Romance and which are not. (Over here, many people know that the Slavic languages are related, but don’t know that Hungarian or Romanian aren’t included.)

    The notions of “True”, “False”, “Proof”

    Those should rather be “evidence”, “test”, “parsimony” anyway…

  24. SFReader says:

    Over here, many people know that the Slavic languages are related, but don’t know that Hungarian or Romanian aren’t included.

    Do they believe that East Germans speak Slavic language too?

  25. David Marjanović says:

    Heh… no.

    (And to answer the trick question, the existence of the two Sorbian languages is a pretty well kept secret.)

  26. @DM, SFReader – It’s my experience that historical linguists are quite unusual in that they read literature in a wide range of languages. Economists mostly seem to read only English and their native language, if that’s not English. Back at university, I once quoted an article by Mario Monti in Italian in a term paper about aspects of European integration, which the assistant who corrected it marked as “inaccessible”, not because it couldn’t be found (the article was from a journal in the Economics library), but because it was in Italian. So even for a EU-related topic, it was seen as not necessary to check an important article in a major EU language by a major EU policy maker, because it was neither in English nor in German. Compare that to my experience in IE studies, where one of my professors returned a term paper on Slavic endings with the remark that I obviously missed a pertinent article in Lithuanian on that topic…
    On Slavic languages – I’ve formally studied only two, Russian and Polish (well, I also did some beginner’s Croatian), but I never had problems to read scientific articles in any Slavic language. Now, fiction, that’s a different kettle of fish..

  27. It’s my experience that historical linguists are quite unusual in that they read literature in a wide range of languages.

    Yeah, I had to demonstrate reading ability in four before they’d even let me in the grad school door (though fortunately I was never expected to read articles in Lithuanian).

  28. Found this tweet about bank notes from 1919, printed by the gov’t of the Semirechye Cossaks, backed by opium

    https://twitter.com/CentralAsiaCAIS/status/984304348522934272?s=19

  29. Also, my understanding (can any hatter confirm this?) is that standard Ukrainian has such a large number of borrowed Polonisms that even native Russian-speaking historical linguists can find Ukrainian scholarly prose difficult if not (at times?) impenetrable.

    I’m not sure how it works at the Russian end, but the Ukrainian lexicon is definitely Pole-friendly (once you get a grasp of the sound correspondences and morphophonological alternations).

  30. historical linguists are quite unusual in that they read literature in a wide range of languages.

    That is certainly true for IE or Semitic historical linguists. However, for Australian linguistics you could do quite well with only English. For North American linguistics you can mostly get away with English alone, though you’d need Spanish to read some Uto-Aztecanist literature, and French, Spanish, or Latin to read earlier primary material for some regions, but that’s it.

  31. Hans: Monolingualism in the English-speaking world, or diglossia involving English as the H language elsewhere, seems to have become the default linguistic ecology of Academia. Historical linguistics (and possibly a few other fields?), far from being an aberration within Academia, is a survival of the multilingualism which used to be the norm there.

    Hmm. “Conservatism of the periphery” is a well-established principle in dialectology, and the very fact that the field of historical linguistics both remains multilingual and grows ever-more peripheral (within Academia) can thus be seen to be two related facts, in the same way that it is no coincidence that within North America areas where younger speakers maintain the WEATHER/WHETHER distinction are socially and geographically peripheral as well.

    David: one problem that makes the entire Romance language family harder to understand for non-linguists is the association made between Latin and the Catholic Church: At a party I once overheard a historian saying that Quebec and Mexico both speak Romance languages (that peaked my interest: a statement on languages by a non-linguist that is actually accurate? Could it be true, or had someone spiked my punch?!) …and then went on to say that this was unsurprising, as Catholicism had played a major role in both societies. *SIGH*…

    Hat: At one level it is very depressing, but at another level it is deliciously entertaining. It took me a while, but a great way to keep yourself from dying of boredom in a department involves asking a few polite questions at meetings and as a result listen to respected scholars spout out an elaborate web of absurd nonsense which Lewis Carroll on an acid trip could never have dreamed of topping. Finding kindred spirits becomes easier, too: just pay attention and see who breaks out into a sunny grin after said meeting, and you have a fair idea of who shares your opinion of the system.

  32. Oh, using the dominant dogmas within the system to give yourself a good laugh: I gave an example of that on this thread (see my January 28 12:32 comment)

    http://languagehat.com/the-most-demanding-science/

  33. David Marjanović says:

    Economists mostly seem to read only English and their native language, if that’s not English.

    It’s similar in the natural sciences. Many can to some extent deal with the Romance languages, but German is not widely read anymore, and a reading knowledge of Russian is rare even among those who work in fields where important papers are in Russian. The ability to read papers in Chinese is completely limited to people who grew up with that writing system, with about two exceptions that I could name.

    backed by opium

    Makes sense.

    That is certainly true for IE or Semitic historical linguists.

    Also Uralic and East Asian historical linguistics. Comparative Tungusic linguistics alone requires Russian, Chinese, Japanese, English and probably German. Uralicists publish in Finnish, English, Russian, Hungarian, German, occasionally Estonian and formerly French…

    In IE historical linguistics there’s an anecdote about Eric Hamp giving an introductory lecture and assigning the students a few papers to read, one of them in French. When a student asked how to deal with that, Hamp supposedly said “oh, just learn it, it’s easy”.

    …and then went on to say that this was unsurprising, as Catholicism had played a major role in both societies.

    Wow. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t cross an Austrian’s mind!

  34. Also Uralic and East Asian
    Anyone like Vovin or Stachowski, who deals with North Asian Wanderwörter, must be able to read a dozen languages or so.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    Both of your examples have published in… maybe not a dozen, but Stachowski sen. has, off the top of my head, published in German, English, Russian and Turkish in addition to his native Polish.

    And lest anyone think this is a holdover from a heroic past, absent from younger generations, consider Christopher Culver. He’s too young to have published in half a dozen languages, but my impression of him is that he’s pretty much fluent in every language spoken within 1000 km of Helsinki, Bucarest or Yoshkar-Ola, and then some.

  36. Yeah, he’s frighteningly multilingual.

  37. Vovin’s CV, (p. 20) like that of many other linguists, lists his language competence. He lists 14 languages with “excellent” or better reading ability, and 15 more with lesser competence. He can write with “excellent” or better competence in six.

  38. Setting my eyes on the last examples first filled me with some dread, but all in all this thread is making me feel fairly good about the fact that currently I “only” regularly read literature in Finnish, English, German, Hungarian (going on only a few elementary courses so far) and Estonian (never formally studied it); irregularly also Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch (never studied any of the latter three), some French and Latin (never studied; academic works only, non-academic French/Latin I find nigh impenetrable).

    (Note in particular the glaring absense of Russian, so far. At least machine translation is of some help on working with it these days though.)

  39. j.: I often have the impression (Do other hatters?) that among European Academics, it is the ones whose L1 is Uralic who most often end up with the most impressive (i.e. broadest) multilingual repertoire.

    David : Austrians and members of other non-Romance speaking Catholic nations (Ireland, Poland…) are obviously not as liable to see a Romance linguistic affiliation as being a consequence of Catholicism as are members of nations that are neither Catholic nor Romance-speaking: since the most important Romance-speaking countries (Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy…) are both Romance-speaking and Catholic, and since Latin is associated with Catholicism, it is easy to understand how Romance linguistic affiliation could be seen as a consequence of Catholicism. A mistake, yes, but quite an understandable one.

    (Hmm. Of course, unlike Ireland and Poland, Austria was once mostly Romance-speaking…)

    In fact a Scandinavian colleague did tell me once that first-year students believed that Latin was either: 1-The ancestor of all European languages, or 2-The ancestor of languages spoken by Catholic Europeans. And I myself actually gave a class in linguistics (in the context of a program centered upon the study of a certain major Romance-speaking country) one afternoon at a University in Scandinavia and found that a majority of students there had an even more interesting definition of the Romance family: they thought Greek was Romance but not French, and my impression is that to their minds Romance=Southern/Mediterranean European: Greece fit the bill, but France was too Northern to be “Romance” according to their mental map (I have no idea how they would have placed Romanian. Or Romansh, had they heard of it, which I seriously doubt).

    Not that I blame the students, you understand: several of their professors’ mental map of language relationships was just as muddled, frankly…

  40. Trond Engen says:

    David M. from younger generations [of linguists], consider Christopher Culver.

    Yes. And I get the impression that Bulbul has a fair number of languages, too.

  41. Trond Engen says:

    Etienne: Your observations of the current state of language studies are sad, but they’re also quite hard to believe. Obviously there are students with little grasp of the subject beyond the current page in the textbook, and I can easily imagine some of them gathering around the foreign guest lecturer to discuss the mind-boggling concept he just introduced, but a majority of students attending an afternoon linguistics class?

  42. Trond: I apologize if I wasn’t clear: this was a language class, in the context of a program where this major Romance-speaking country was studied (A program within which no linguistics course was required, if I recall correctly), within which I taught some historical linguistics that afternoon, not a linguistics class. I agree this sort of ignorance would be hard to believe on the part of faculty (or even most students) in a linguistics program. But to repeat what I wrote to David on this thread earlier: most professors and scholars in the humanities are not scientists. Nor, I might add, are their students.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    I often have the impression (Do other hatters?) that among European Academics, it is the ones whose L1 is Uralic who most often end up with the most impressive (i.e. broadest) multilingual repertoire.

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all, but in my field (a very small sample size) the two colleagues who are fully fluent in three foreign languages (the same three, it happens: English, French, German) are a Fleming and an Italian Swiss. Two Hungarians are fluent in English and somewhat hesitant in German. I don’t know any Finns or Estonians in my field, perhaps because their countries have been scraped clean by inland ice.

    A mistake, yes, but quite an understandable one.

    Of course. The possibility just hadn’t occurred to me before.

    (Hmm. Of course, unlike Ireland and Poland, Austria was once mostly Romance-speaking…)

    That ended a thousand years ago, though, except around the Silvretta [sic] mountains, where some kind of Romansh was spoken until the 17th century or something and there are place names like Galtür and Valzur.

    And I get the impression that Bulbul has a fair number of languages, too.

    Several Semitic, several IE (from several branches), Hungarian (arguably not quite as a foreign language), and he’s a professional translator for Finnish… I would say downright unfair 🙂

  44. “I speak one. Also I understand one.” —Archie Goodwin, talking to Nero Wolfe (who speaks eight).

  45. There might be more than a simple coincidence to the Catholic/Romance correlation (which being quite far from perfect, does exist). Maybe speaking a Romance language natively made people less anxious about Latin mass?

  46. J.W. Brewer says:

    It’s not that there are no non-Romance-speaking societies that are (or were historically) predominantly Catholic, it’s that there are no Romance-speaking societies (outside of a few Francophone Swiss cantons) that are (or were historically) predominantly Protestant. (I expect people putting a lot of stock into this pattern are largely the sort of people who are not likely to be aware that Romania is predominantly neither …)

  47. The Huguenots also controlled some cities for a while, and there are some Italian-speaking Protestant valleys in the Alps.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    Maybe speaking a Romance language natively made people less anxious about Latin mass?

    Or Luther’s works, all originally in German except for his 95 theses, spread more easily through Continental Germanic.

  49. On the correlation between speaking a Romance language as an L1 and being Catholic: the French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd, whose work I greatly admire, actually argued, in one of his books (L’INVENTION DE L’EUROPE) that Protestantism mostly spread over those parts of Europe with a specific social/family structure which stands in sharp opposition to the social/family structure whose spread was due to the Roman Empire. He thus nicely explains something which Antoine Meillet wrote about in passing (I think in LES LANGUES DANS L’EUROPE NOUVELLE): why is it that, in German-speaking Europe, Catholicism is mostly dominant in regions once found within the borders of the Roman Empire (Austria, Bavaria) whereas Protestantism mostly dominates in regions which never were part of the Roman Empire?

    I refer interested hatters to the book for more details.

  50. J.W. Brewer says:

    @Lazar, sure but those old-country Huguenot/Waldensian enclaves were obscure and/or failed to thrive/survive* and are thus not suitable for propping up popular stereotypes.

    *In diaspora it turned out that Huguenots were not sufficiently culturally distinct from their new-neighbor Protestants who spoke other languages (English, Dutch, German …) so they eventually over the course of a few generations intermarried and assimilated, even when they had tried to set up enclaves aimed at guarding against such a fate.

    I don’t know how much of an advantage Luther writing in German might have been. John Calvin ultimately outinfluenced Luther among speakers of English, Scots, Dutch, Welsh, etc., none of which afaik he spoke. He certainly didn’t write in anything other than French and (key to international communication) Latin. His works were translated early into Spanish and Italian, so their comparative failure to find followers among Romance-speakers must have been for some other reason.

  51. David Marjanović says:

    why is it that, in German-speaking Europe, Catholicism is mostly dominant in regions once found within the borders of the Roman Empire (Austria, Bavaria)

    Counterreformation. Austria used to be full of Protestants.

  52. I must have suppressed that memory.

    It was a trauma, I know.

  53. Yeah, the big driver of which areas were converted to Protestantism was just politics, specifically Habsburg politics. Places that were well controlled by the Habsburgs during the Wars of Religion period were subject to an intense Counter-Reformation. That meant Austria, Spain, Portugal, and (to a lesser extent) Italy (although the presence of the papacy in Rome was also a huge source of revenue for northern and central Italy, which further ensured that the country stayed Catholic). They tried to impose the same religious uniformity in the Netherlands, but the lost control of the northern provinces.

    During much of this period, Poland was allied with Austria. The 1683 Siege of Vienna was raised by a Polish-led force. The Poles we’re probably more concerned with Swedish ambitions during the relevant time period.

    Most powers who had problems with Habsburgs hegemony became Protestant. The north German states adopted Lutheranism so they could have churches under local control, rather than under the influence of Charles V and Leo X. Sweden, the dominant realm in Scandinavia, was a rising power. Switzerland welcomed Calvin with open arms. The Dutch were fighting for independence from Spain. Even the Church of England was founded because of a conflict with the Habsburgs, although a personal, dynastic one rather than a major political disagreement. Charles V was not going to let the pope annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Charles’s aunt Catherine.

    There is, of course, one huge outlier whose modern religious makeup is not explained through the country’s relationship to the Habsburgs: France. It is probably not a coincidence though that the most Catholic area of northern Germany is the Rhineland, which has faced French political meddling for a long time.

  54. There were three parties in France during the Reformation rather than just two: the Protestant party, which had support from a large minority of the nobility; the royal party, which was Catholic but anti-clerical and anti-papal; and the papal party. Alliances formed and broke, but eventually the royal party became supreme.

  55. Rodger C says:

    And could there be anything causal to the fact that Catholic Europe tends to coincide with the countries that were nose-to-nose with Islam, therefore determined to oppose aniconism, etc.?

  56. On the other hand, Toynbee and others have suggested that proximity to Islam had the opposite effect on the East Romans, turning them toward aniconism in the 8th century.

  57. Not surprising for the Byzantines to be shamed by Islam in the days when the two religions weren’t so self-consciously two religions. The West by 1517 was in a very different position.

  58. ə de vivre says:

    Not surprising for the Byzantines to be shamed by Islam in the days when the two religions weren’t so self-consciously two religions.

    Huh? Orthodox Byzantines only intermittently accepted Miaphysites as Christian, let alone Nestorians. Even in the 7th century, Islam was its own deal. The Umayyad tax system was predicated on a distinct line between Muslims and people of the book, and at first discouraged conversion to keep that sweet sweet jizya coming in. (Another, not incompatible explanation is that Islam was, at first, much more strongly identified as an Arab ethnic religion.)

  59. J.W. Brewer says:

    I’m not sure that Toynbee is an authority worth citing, but it is certainly true that Iconoclasm became a thing in Byzantine territory in the early 8th century, about a century after the beginning of encounters and conflicts with rapidly-expanding Islam. But after a century-plus of intra-Byzantine conflict, the Iconoclasts lost, and lost so definitively we’re not entirely sure what they really thought because the history was written in rather polemical and partisan tones by the victors and we don’t have many surviving texts from the losers. (To be precise as to timing, the definitive-in-hindsight theological victory of the pro-icon position in A.D. 787 finally became a firm practical/political victory in 843.) And it wasn’t as if Islam had receded in the meantime. Proposing an explanatory theory for the original rise of the Iconoclast position that doesn’t also account for its subsequent defeat seems of limited use.

    Separately, I’m not sure that miaphysite Eastern churches such as the Copts that had already fallen under Islamic rule before the 8th century ever had their own iconoclast issues. Not sure how the theory accounts for that.

  60. J.W. Brewer says:

    More generally, it’s probably the case that if group A is rubbing up against group B at a time when group B is increasing in power, the A’s may either i) pursue a strategy of minimizing apparent differences with the B’s to minimize the risk of conflict that may make the A’s position even weaker; or ii) pursue a strategy of maximizing apparent differences (especially “symbolic” ones with limited real-world consequences) in order to promote a clear sense of group identity/solidarity marked by clear distinctions between A-ness and B-ness, and thus (it might be hoped) discourage defections/assimilation. Both of those are plausible strategies. Which one will a particular group pursue in a given situation? I dunno. Human history doesn’t work that predicably imho.

  61. It is probably not a coincidence though that the most Catholic area of northern Germany is the Rhineland, which has faced French political meddling for a long time.

    But not yet at the time of the Reformation..At that time, French interference concentrated on Lorraine, Bar, etc. –territories much further west. Alsace and Lorraine were still imperial territories at that time (large parts of Alsace were Habsburg possessions, part of the Burgundian inheritance), so the Rhineland was quite far from the frontier. The Rhineland was largely the territory of the three giant prince-bishop-electorates of Mainz, Trier and Cologne. They kept control of the religious status of their territories.

  62. France had control of Trier during the Swedish-French phase of the Thirty Years War and retained a great deal of influence in the city-state subsequently. That does still come at the very end of the Wars of Religion, after most sectarian patterns were already established, though.

  63. David Marjanović says:

    Not surprising for the Byzantines to be shamed by Islam

    Yes, but for a different reason: the logical reaction to the rise of Islam was “this must be a punishment from God for something” and to then go looking for “something”. The iconoclasts said “told you so”, and depictions of people vanished from the coins in both realms. (The earliest Islamic coins showed the caliph and an advisor or two, obvious imitations of Byzantine coins with the emperor and a son or two. Soon after, the Byzantine coins showed little more than a cross and the Islamic coins little more than the shahāda. If only I could find my source; it had pictures.)

    large parts of Alsace were Habsburg possessions, part of the Burgundian inheritance

    Vorderösterreich, “front-side Austria”.

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