consciousness, differences of religious practice, ceremonial, church organization, or belief should be put within brackets for the sake of communal and individual well-being in a multi-confessional society. In such a situation, popular religious practices and beliefs could easily shift from the confessional order to a purely secular order, and escape any control by the ecclesiastical authorities.

Social discipline and the acculturation thesis

Raising the religious practice of the laity to a higher cultural level required a double transformation in the public space. First, in order to make people aware of the distinction between a compulsory universal religion and forbidden forms of popular religion, the secular authorities developed a series of legislative measures, coercive actions and moral incentives within the public sphere, that have been described by early modern historians as 'social discipline'. Although this process was primarily an effort by the secular state to shape a homogeneous citizenry, it was sustained in many respects by a second and similar process of the 'confessionalization' of the churches.27 The reform of religious practice, belief, and ritual entailed the imposition, and indeed the enforcing, of new norms, morals and practices from above, by the religious and secular authorities, who were usually acting together with a common strategy. In practice, the instruments of this moral offensive differed from church to church and from territory to territory, depending on the degree of co-operation between church and state authorities. Yet, structurally the policy of intervention was the same everywhere: formal regulations were issued for public behaviour in an increasing number of places and occasions; church discipline was enforced; a system of regular, periodical visitations of parishes, communities, and even families was introduced for the enforcement of precepts and the eradication of abuses; the new rules were systematically taught to the people, specially the lower classes, in sermons, catechisms, schoolbooks, popular literature, popular prints, and any other medium available; and finally, whenever possible, mitigated, broadly acceptable versions of popular practices and beliefs were incorporated into the body of church ritual and dogma. As such, this strategy had two faces. The first was a more secular face, expressed in the control of one's behaviour in human contacts and especially in the public area, fashionable ever since the age of humanism and Erasmus's De civilitate morum puerilium (1530), one of the most widely printed etiquette books and school primers of the early modern era. The second was a more religious face, expressed in the so-called 'Christianizing offensive', that is, the imposition

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