About the new look

Altarpiece (detail) from Birket Church, Birket Parish, Lolland, Denmark. Ca. 1500-25. Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen.

I’ve changed a few things around here, not least of which is the header for the site. I’ve had a couple of questions about it, so a word by way of explanation. This is an altarpiece from the rich collections of Nationalmuseet (The National Museum), Copenhagen, which among many other things (like one of Tycho Brahe’s strap-on noses) contains a wonderful selection of pre-Reformation Danish religious art. This is the predella from an early sixteenth-century triptych which originally graced the altar at Birket Kirke, on the island of Lolland in Denmark.

With my recent work on the trial of Lutheran parson Søren Jensen Quist, I’m beginning to appreciate that the introduction of the Lutheran faith in Denmark in 1536 – as in much of the rest of what would become Protestant Europe – was not a peaceful transition, but rather a violent and invasive one. And not just violent in the sense that King Christian III brought it in at the point of a sword, but also – as Eamon Duffy pointed out vis-à-vis England, in The Stripping of the Altars – in the sense that the new faith rooted out and destroyed rituals and religious art that were intimately familiar and profoundly comforting to many, if not most, worshipers.

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