Det humanistiske fakultet
Reformasjonen 500 år

The Reformation and the Arts around the North Sea

How were medieval church buildings and their interiors treated through the Reformation? How were they subsequently adapted to new forms of Protestant worship?

Photo of the interiour in a medieval church
Medieval church in Bears, Frisia (the Netherlands). The Protestant furnishings were largely added around the middle of the eighteenth century.
Archive Regnerus Steensma


Conference at Bryggens Museum Monday 6 March.

Until the early sixteenth century all countries bordering the North Sea were unified by one and the same religious culture under the Catholic church. Then, religious unity was disrupted by the Protestant Reformation.

The North Sea region is the only part of Europe where the full range of confessions originating in the Reformation era took root: Lutheranism (in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Northern Germany), Calvinism (in the Netherlands and Northwestern Germany), Counter-Reformation Catholicism (in Flanders and Northern France) and Anglicanism (in Britain).

Speakers will focus on how medieval church buildings and their interiors were treated through the Reformation and how they were subsequently adapted to new forms of Protestant worship. In this way, the many varieties of ‘accommodating Protestantism’ will be discussed, in which Lutheranism stands out as a particularly preserving tradition.

The conference is based on scholarly research but the lectures will be accessible to a wider public. The conference be in English.


09:30-10:00Arrival with registration and coffee
10:00-10:05                Opening
10:05-10:20      The Medieval Church Landscape around the North Sea. Justin Kroesen, Bergen University Museum
10:20-11:00Altar- or Table-wise? The Changing Material Culture of Communion in England. Andrew Spicer, Oxford
11:00-11:40‘Beautifully carved and decorated with gold’ - The New Materiality of Catholic Counter-Reformation Churches in the Southern Netherlands. Raingard Esser, Groningen
11:40-13:15Lunch break with free visits of Bryggens Museum and Mariakirken
13:15-13:55Calvinist Iconophobia Contested: Texts and Images in the Dutch
Reformed Church Interior. Jacolien Wubs, Groningen
13:55-14:35The Reformation(s) and the Arts around the North Sea’s Southern Shore: Northwest Germany. Christoph Auffarth, Bremen
14:35-15:00Tea break
15:00-15:40The Lutheran Reformation and its Consequences for the Religious
Visual Culture in Denmark and Norway. Henning Laugerud, University of Bergen
15:40-16:30Churches around the North Sea – Balance and Perspectives.
Plenary discussion, launch of website Bergen1517,
concluding remarks, closure

Organization: University Museum of Bergen together with Bjørgvin bispedøme and Bymuseet i Bergen.

See www.reformasjonsbyen.no for more information