Thirteenth IESHR Lecture with Professor Philippe Buc: "Civil war and religion in Medieval Japan and Medieval Europe".

Pia Maria Malik's picture
September 16, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, European History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies, Military History, World History / Studies

The Indian Economic and Social History Association and SAGE are pleased to announce the Thirteenth IESHR Lecture, which will be taking place at 7:00 pm on Monday, 16th September 2019, at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre (New Delhi, India). Please join us for tea in the foyer at 6:15 pm.


Japan and West-Central Europe, two small ensembles placed at vast Eurasia's extremities, have often been compared with reference to their respective "middle ages". Between ca. 1880 to 1970, the juxtaposition was motivated by the sometime ideological desire to account for Japan's exceptional and swift modernisation and its entry into the exclusive club consisting of European and New World military and economic powers. One axis of comparison was then self-evident: the shared importance of the warrior class. While also focusing on the wider culture of warfare, this lecture, however, addresses the differential role played by religions in Japan prior to ca. 1600 and Europe before ca. 1550 in internal warfare ("civil war" or "intra-cultural" war). To what extent and in what manner did the locally present religions -- Buddhism alloyed with what came to be called Shinto and Christianity -- shape conceptions and practices of war in both ensembles?  Did differences (or sometime analogies) between Japanese and European religious beliefs and practices impact, for instance, the scale of atrocities, care for the defeated or the dead, loyalty or side-switching, and willingness to fight? How, in this context, was rebellion justified?

Philippe Buc, Professor of Medieval European History at the Universität Wien (Austria), taught at Stanford University from 1990 to 2011. He is the author of The Dangers of Ritual (2001) and of Holy War, Martyrdom, and Terror: Christianity, Violence, and the West (2015). He is currently engaged in a big-picture comparison of religions and warfare in the pre-modern age.

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