Prophecy, Madness, and Holy War in Early Modern Europe

Among upcoming new titles in the Oxford Studies in Western Esotericism Book Series editied by Henrik Bogdan for Oxford University Press is Leigh T.I. Penman’s “Prophecy, Madness, and Holy War in Early Modern Europe A Life of Ludwig Friedrich Gifftheil.” The posted description says:

“The political and religious turmoil of seventeenth century Europe appears in a strange new light in this volume, which explores the life and doctrines of the infamous German barber surgeon and prophet, Ludwig Friedrich Gifftheil (1595-1661). Inspired by an unstable alchemy of family tragedy and a corpus of dissenting religious writings, Gifftheil stalked Europe’s battlefields, petitioning kings, princes, and emperors to end the warfare endemic on the continent. Convinced that all war was prompted by ‘false prophets’–by which Gifftheil meant the clergy of Europe’s Christian confessions–he pleaded with rulers to abjure the counsel of their advisors and institute instead a godly peace. Then, in 1635, Gifftheil reinvented himself by taking up his sword as “God’s warrior,” embarking on a quest to recruit an army of the righteous and wage a holy war in Europe and to institute a divine peace.Prophecy, Madness, and Holy War in Early Modern Europe uses new manuscript and print sources from across Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America to craft the definitive account of Gifftheil’s life and exploits. Against a background of family loss, and restless travels across the continent, Gifftheil’s story reveals an alternative history of religious and political dissent in the seventeenth century. His adventures cast a dramatic new light on the culture and society of early modernity, the place of prophecy and madness in the negotiation of religious authority, the origins of the theosophical current, and the stranger apocalyptic impulses at the roots of Pietism and missionary Christianity.”

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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