“The women do not want to go to church.” Church Discipline and the Control of the Public Practice of Religion in the Calvinist Diocese of Küküllő in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The Calvinist model of Church discipline introduced a considerably more intensive and elaborate system of enforcing moral rules and controlling social behavior than the one that had formerly prevailed. Its religious, cultural, and social role and the regional variants have remained subjects of debate to this day. In this essay, I examine a form of this institutional system that is unique from many perspectives, using as my sources the seventeenth and eighteenth-century visitation records and diocesan court documents from the Hungarian Reform Diocese of Küküllő (the name of which is taken from Küküllő River, in Romanian the Târnava River). In the first half of the essay I offer an overview of the peculiarities of the Transylvanian church organisation and the institutional system of church discipline, addressing in particular the question of the extent to which these institutions differed from or resembled Western European models. In the second half of the essay I survey the guiding role of the Church and the relationship between norms and actual practice as seen through the study of efforts to supervise and enforce religious conformity. By analyzing seventeenth and eighteenth- century documents pertaining to the control and sanction of participation in public Church rituals, I seek to provide a nuanced image of the religious practices of the era and further an understanding of how Church surveillance was asserted in the everyday lives of members of local communities.