Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit




Call for Papers

Food Intolerances: Confession, Consumption, and Control in Early Modern Europe


In early modern Europe, a person’s religion might be determined as much from their diet as from
their beliefs. Even people with as little in common as the English preacher Henry Smith, the Italian
miller Domenico Scandella, and the Polish noble Krzysztof Pilecki could, for example, agree that a
Protestant was someone who ate meat on Fridays. Indeed, the importance granted to food and drink
in religion during the early modern period was such that we possess an abundance of sources about
its role in uniting and keeping apart different groups.

Despite the range and interest of this material, diet has been underappreciated as a privileged point
of access into the religious world of the early modern period. That is now beginning to change. Eric
Dursteler has for example shown that food was an unavoidable part of daily life that could betray
otherwise hidden heresies, and Eleonor Barnett has used references to food and drink in inquisitorial
sources in Venice to rebuild the lived experience of the city’s many religious communities. Indeed,
outstanding studies exist about the role of diet in the religious history of everywhere from Lisbon to
Lithuania. What we are lacking is instead comparisons between these apparently unconnected, yet
historically entangled parts of Europe that, as the examples above show, in fact had much in common
in the weight that they attributed to food and drink in religion.

The proposed conference aims to provide an occasion for exactly such comparisons. We invite
papers that consider consumption and its control in the making or breaking of boundaries between
and within the various religious communities of early modern Europe (c.1450-c.1800). Topics might
include, but are not limited to:

  • Theological, philosophical or literary discussions of the role of food and drink in religious
  • identities
  • Religious or secular regulations on food or drink
  • Patterns of control
  • Exceptions and deviance
  • Vigilance and attentiveness toward food and drink
  • Food and drink as a means of contact between different religious groups

The conference will take place at the Historiches Kolleg at Munich (Germany) on 14-16 May 2025,
and will feature a keynote lecture by Prof. Eric Dursteler.

In order to apply, please send a CV and a max. 250-word proposal by June 24 to