My thesis explores how Protestant pamphleteering acted as a subversive voice throughout the sixteenth century. In turns it appealed to or challenged the sources of authority and power and was always at the centre of political discourse. Simultaneously it expanded upon older writing traditions and created new modes of expression, thus developing a new kind of written discourse.
This new kind of discourse, my research suggests, was remarkably similar throughout the different areas of Reformation and Confessionalisation in Europe. It relied not so much on the exposition of religious doctrine or theological argument, but on a careful negotiation of power between the Reformers and their faithful and more prominently between the Reformed and the ruling class of the respective territory in which the Reformers thought to propagate or consolidate their message.
My thesis argues that this new discourse always operated on the same principles of written expression irrespective of the language it was composed in. All this points to the pamphlets having mainly a political aim rather than a theological or literary one. My thesis will attempt to prove this through a comparison of English and Austrian/Bavarian Protestant pamphlet texts of the mid sixteenth to early seventeenth century - ca. 1530s to 1620s.
By comparing English to Austrian/Bavarian pamphlet texts of the period I hope to demonstrate that even if Protestant polemics were composed in different languages, in this case English and German, and had authors of different social as well as cultural backgrounds their choice of argument and rhetoric did not differ. This, my research aims to demonstrate, is due to political circumstance rather than doctrinal unity among Protestants.