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Adopting a New Religion: The Case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany

  • Cantoni, Davide

Using a dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century, this article investigates the determinants of adoption and diffusion of Protestantism as a state religion. A territory’s distance to Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther taught, is a major determinant of adoption. This finding is consistent with a theory of strategic neighbourhood interactions: introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighbouring states committed to the new faith. The actual spatial and temporal patterns of expansion of Protestantism are analysed in a panel dataset.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20004.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Publication status: Published in Economic Journal 560 122(2012): pp. 502-531
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20004
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