Thus, a community of everyday cultural perceptions and practices existed between Catholics and Protestants, strengthened by the domestic religious practices (praying, singing, reading) that were common everywhere. Periodically the intellectual elites attempted to change the situation through dogmatic or apologetic writings. But though Protestant theology might reject the intercession of saints in heaven, the models of sanctity and indeed of the good life were largely identical within the different confessions, precisely because of their rivalry in this matter: models of behaviour not only shaped group identity, but they also had to be persuasive for others, if there was to be any hope of converting those others. Indeed, the early modern sources reveal that Catholics could respect and even embrace Protestant forms of godliness or holiness and vice versa.17 This community of values and of models for life was one of the main foundations of the interconfessional conviviality that for early modern Dutch society I have called the ecumenicity of everyday life. This phrase refers to the capacity of members from different confessional sectors to co-exist peacefully in everything essential to their common cultural and social life, and to reach civic concord by disregarding the ecclesiastical disputes and divisions that the growing confessionalization tried to impose on public life.18
Thispluri-confessional community ofperception realized in the Netherlands was representative of a situation existing throughout Europe: Protestants and Catholics from different German territories, and Huguenots and Catholics in France, did not behave all that differently. They all shared the same basic perceptions of nature, community, and the universe. As such, they constituted an interpretive community, to the extent that, for the Catholics as well as the Protestants, signs and wonders publicly revealed the intentions of God, and in this way revealed the meaning of the perceived extraordinary. Only very slowly during the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries would a clearer distinction emerge among the faithful between the evidence of the religious 'sign', intimately and almost immediately embedded with meaning, and the objective 'fact' that now had to be placed in a scientific discourse in order to become relevant.19
There is no reason to wonder about this basic continuity of popular religious culture in space and time. Historians had formerly portrayed the passage of a local community to the Reformation as a collective event, inspired by the leaders and immediately realized in the totality of its aspects and dimensions. This image, however, has been dismantled over the last few decades as new research in socio-cultural history has become available. We now recognize that sixteenth-century people, including the local pastors themselves, were
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