The Impact of the Reformation on Women in Germany
Lutheran teachings did give women greater equality of esteem alongside men in the sight of God. Women were no longer considered more inclined to sin than men, nor more likely to lead their menfolk into sinning, and were not reliant on the mediation of male priests to obtain the means of salvation. In his Large Catechism (1529) Luther stressed that God had created body as well as spirit, thereby lessening the tension of the laity that their bodily needs diminished their spirituality. The bodily functions of women were no longer to be considered impure. These issues are not really in dispute between feminist and more traditional historians, but two others are: the place of women within marriage and within the new churches as compared to the old.
Prepared by Henry J. Cohn of the University of Warwick, this webpage provides historiographical analysis of recent publications regarding the relationship between the Lutheran Reformation and the role of women in the family, the church, and the broader society. Specifically, Cohn contrasts traditionalist with feminist historiography. Cohn also provides links to substantial excerpts from pertinent primary and secondary source material.