The Welsh Fasting Girl: A Morbid Spectacle

The story of Sarah Jacob is a tragic one.1 On 17 December 1869, when she was not yet 13 years old, she died of starvation. There was no shortage of food or unwillingness to provide her with food, had she asked for it. Her family, trained nurses, and male doctors were around her when she passed away, but they all quite literally watched her die.

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  1. E.g. ‘The drama of the Welsh fasting girl […] has ended tragically’. Anon., ‘The Week. Topics of the Day’, The Medical Times and Gazette, 25 Dec. 1869, 738 (my emphases); ‘The second act of the Carmarthen Tragedy has been played out’. Anon., No Title, The Western Mail, 27 Dec. 1869, 2. []

Essays and Reviews: The ‘Greatest Religious Crisis of the Victorian Age’?

One of the best-known controversies in nineteenth-century Britain revolved around the publication of a collection of theological writings in March 1860 titled Essays and Reviews. The book, edited by John William Parker, consisted of seven essays that explored various topics, such as the evidence for Christianity, religious thought in England, and—perhaps most controversially—the interpretation of scripture. The underlying theme behind these essays was theological methodology—namely, the exploration of German-speaking Protestant theological discussions within Anglican theological thought. Essays and Reviews was a cautious, partly implicit acknowledgement of scientific findings and historical–philological methods.

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Pastors, Commissaries, Diplomats: Agency and Migration Networks in the Early Modern Period

Confessional migrations, especially Protestant ones, are a defining characteristic of the early modern period.1 Well-known examples include the Huguenots and the Vaudois in the 1690s, the Palatines in 1708, and the Salzburgers in the 1730s. Most of these migrations were structured by networks involving migrants, diplomats, agents, states, and institutions; and just as importantly, money flows, publications, and escape routes. Overall, these migration networks can be seen as power constellations in which diplomats, agents, institutions and state actors were interconnected and influenced each other. But in spite of the plethora of research on early modern confessional migration, the diplomats and agents who acted as intermediaries in these contexts have not yet been thoroughly analysed.2 These intermediaries could be not only diplomats and agents, but also pastors or even migrants themselves. My Ph.D. project therefore aims to fill this void. It focuses on intermediaries and how they were incorporated into migration networks. In addition I analyse what agency intermediaries gained through their involvement in these networks, and probe how they used it for their own advantage and the advancement of their career. The analysis can also show how institutions, migrants, and governmental actors influence and make use of these intermediaries.

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  1. Alexander Schunka, ‘Glaubensflucht als Migrationsoption: Konfessionell motivierte Migrationen in der Frühen Neuzeit’, Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, 56/10 (2005), 547–64. []
  2. Matthias Asche, ‘Christliche Caritas, konfessionelles Kalkül und politische Propaganda: Emigrantennetzwerke, Flüchtlingskommissare und ihre Bedeutung für Logistik und Raumordnung in Alteuropa und im Alten Reich des ausgehenden 17. Jahrhunderts—ein Problemaufriß’, in Joachim Bahlcke, Rainer Leng, and Peter Scholz (eds.), Migration als soziale Herausforderung: Historische Formen solidarischen Handelns von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart 2011). []
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