|"The Protestants Have Taken the Flag!" Catholic-Protestant Confrontation in Urban Processions in the 19th Century|
|In contrast to the assumption of a broadly secularised nineteenth century, this paper aims to show that urban processions in Germany not only continued to exist after the Enlightenment and the Secularisation but also had great impact on the identity and formation of urban society. As a consequence, urban processions as manifestations of Catholicism in the public sphere became a sensible issue and triggered conflicts, as for example in France and the Netherlands.
In Prussia, such Catholic-Protestant conflicts occurred especially in areas with a mixed confessional structure, like the Ruhr. In Essen, for example, the exclamation “The Protestants have taken the flag!” during the Corpus Christi procession of 1845 caused a riot in which angry Catholics threw stones at the town hall and harmed some Protestants. The reason for this were rumours some weeks before that Protestants planned to steal a flag during the procession. In combination with other confessional tensions and the economic and social disadvantage of the Catholics, these rumours caused the confrontation of the denominations.
I intend to describe urban processions as rituals in which Catholics demonstrate their religious beliefs and political or social interests.
At the same time, the presence of the ritual in the public sphere forced the Protestants to formulate a position concerning the Catholicism and its norms. In Essen and in the Ruhr in general, this was the reason for numerous conflicts during the long nineteenth century.|