CfP: Confessional Ambiguities in the Face of Control:  Antitrinitarianism in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800) 

The history of Antitrinitarianism in the early modern period can be fairly described as a history of persecution, harassment, banishment, and exile. Nevertheless, Antitrinitarian ideas and beliefs flourished among many Protestants in the early modern Europe and triggered responses in defence of the Trinity also from non-Christian individuals. The most famous organised group were the Polish Brethren or Socinians, who established several communities in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the early 1560s and became renowned throughout Europe over the first half of the seventeenth century. Facing growing hostilities within the Commonwealth from Catholics and Protestants alike, the Socinians were eventually banished from their country, the remaining of the community scattering in Germany, Transylvania and Holland, among other places. However, despite being the most famous group, not all Antitrinitarians were Socinians – namely followers of the Italian exile Fausto Sozzini. Moreover, charges of Antitrinitarianism and Socinianism became common in Europe to defame one’s opponent and to restrain nonconformist ideas and behaviours. As a result, many individuals accused of denying the Trinitarian dogma were not Antitrinitarians at all. 

This two-day conference aims at comparing the actual dissemination of Antitrinitarian concepts and traditions with the application of labels such as “Socinian,” “Arian,” and “Photinian” to constrict and oppose diverging beliefs and behaviours. We intend to investigate Antitrinitarian groups, individuals, and traditions who developed independently from Socinianism in non-Polish speaking countries and whether they were accepted by other Christians or persecuted for their beliefs. We also seek to assess the spread of Antitrinitarian beliefs (be they influenced by Socinianism or not) within existing Christian congregations, as well as the defence of the Trinitarian dogma by non-Christian traditions. Furthermore, strong emphasis will be placed on the unexplored intersections between women’s studies and ongoing research on Antritrinitarianism. We will investigate the propagation of Antitrinitarianism among early modern women and their contribution to promoting nonconformist beliefs and practices, as well as the gendered bias when controlling church members’ ideas and bodies. Close attention will be paid to the means used by church authorities to suppress the spread of Antitrinitarianism, and to the ways in which “Socinianism” and connected terms became useful tools to act against wider dissenting attitudes and confessional ambiguities.  

Possible subjects include, but are not limited to: 

  • Local Antitrinitarian traditions in Europe. 
  • Socinianism outside of Poland-Lithuania 
  • Antitrinitarian communities in their urban landscape. 
  • State persecution of Antitrinitarians and Socinians. 
  • Practices of crypto-Antitrinitarinism and crypto-Socinianism. 
  • Women as patrons of Antitrinitarian individuals and communities. 
  • Women involved in the translation and circulation of Antitrinitarian texts 
  • Church discipline against Antitrinitarians and Socinians. 
  • Church discipline and confessional ambiguities 
  • Gender aspects in church discipline towards Antitrinitarians and dissenters 
  • Social bias in church discipline towards Antitrinitarians and dissenters 
  • Antitrinitarianism in dialogue with non-Christian traditions 
  • Non-Christian responses to Antitrinitarianism 

Participants will be given 20 minutes for their presentation, followed by a 15-minute Q&A session. The conference is scheduled for June 17-18, 2024, and it will be held in Amsterdam. The conference is organized as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship funded project EuWoRD (European Women and Religious Dissent: The Advent of Modernity and the Democratic Public Sphere), in cooperation with the Amsterdam Centre for the History and Heritage of Protestantism (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and the international research group EMoDiR. Prof. Sarah Mortimer (University of Oxford) and Prof. Maciej Ptaszyński (University of Warsaw) will deliver keynote lectures. The deadline for submission of abstracts is February 18. Please submit a paper proposal of no more than 150 words to Maria Ivanova ( and Francesco Quatrini ( 

There will be no conference registration fees and bursaries will be available to cover the travel expenses for the participants without institutional support. If applicants would like to apply for funding, please send a separate Word file with biographical details, institutional affiliation, and the amount of expected travel expenses together with your application. We envisage this will be an in-person event. The conference organizers welcome inquiries about supporting disability needs. Refreshments, lunches, and a conference dinner will be provided to speakers. A publication of a collected volume is planned upon the conclusion of the conference, and all participants will be asked to submit their papers shortly thereafter.

Cite this blog post
Isabel Harvey (2024, January 26). CfP: Confessional Ambiguities in the Face of Control:  Antitrinitarianism in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800) . EMoDiR. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

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