Special Exhibition “Money. Power. Faith”

The European Hansemuseum presents a special exhibition about the Reformation and business.


When the Reformation put an end to the unity of the Christian world 500 years ago, it had far-reaching consequences for Europe's economy. Because money and faith were inextricably entwined. In its special exhibition "Money. Power. Faith" the European Hansemuseum examines these economic aspects of the schism, so illuminating an area of European history that has seen little research to date.

Money. Power. Faith
The Reformation and economic life

8 September to 26 November 2017


The sale of indulgences in the early 16th century was certainly all about money. Whereas the faithful wanted to buy themselves absolution from their sins, the Roman Catholic Church and many princes were rubbing their hands at the thought of the vast proceeds. When the Reformation began it also sparked an argument about the Church's valuable property: who did the religious houses and all the Church's other real estate belong to? What should become of the church treasures? In Germany especially this developed into a bitter dispute between the Protestant and Catholic camps – since a great deal of money was at stake.



Left: Sculpture of a Dominican monk, loan from the St. Annen-Museum Lübeck. Photos: © Olaf Malzahn

The exhibition takes a European perspective, because the continent experienced many reformations and religious refugees were soon a European reality. In their turn, these forced migrations changed the world of business. Immigrants brought technical know-how to their new homelands; some rulers chose an intelligent immigration policy for economic reasons, others pulled up the drawbridge. At times there was real competition to attract newcomers: which state offered better production conditions, where could trade be practised in greater liberty? So was it ultimately economic pragmatism that helped to overcome religious dogmatism? Does this put the merchant at the origin of a religious tolerance that the Enlightenment later elevated to a political objective? With questions like these the exhibition turns its focus to the present, when new religious conflicts seem to be driving people apart again. 

The curator of  “Money. Power. Faith” is Dr. Tillmann Bendikowski from the Medienagentur Geschichte. An accompanying book completes the special exhibition, more information about the prices can be found here.


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