chapter  18
21 Pages

Prophetic rebellions: radical urban theopolitics in the era of the Reformations

ByPhillip Haberkern

One of the most prominent features that characterised these urban revolts was the role played by prophetic preachers in sparking them. In all of these cities, preachers claiming the authority of both their sacred office and more direct revelation from God catalysed theopolitical movements,

using their pulpits as the launching pad for revolt. Given preachers’ centrality in articulating a discourse of justified rebellion and orchestrating many of the collective actions that mobilised their cities’ populations, both the rhetoric of their sermons and those sermons’ textual afterlives illuminate the key ideological tenets of radical urban reform. An examination of these texts therefore reveals how the conjunction of political conflict and the introduction of novel theological ideas within a city could transpose a preacher’s moral authority and celebrity into a more activist key, thus turning figures who might be expected to lead moral crusades or peace movements in other moments into the bearers of a more potent charismatic and political authority.3