An Enlightenment of Spirit

Pietism and Prussian Politics

  • Grace Vowels Salem College
Keywords: pietism, Prussia, Enlightenment


This article covers the political effects of the Pietist movement in the Prussian territories. It details basic Pietist thought and how these doctrines were secularized, particularly in the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, as Germany became a unified nation-state. In particular, it examines the question of how these religious beliefs were stripped of their original contexts and then secularized and politicized to encourage devotion first to the militaristic Prussian state and then to the unified nation of Germany in the late nineteenth century. This article utilizes various Pietist texts such as Philipp Jakob Spener's Pia Desideria and the works of August Hermann Francke as a basis for analysis, as well as various other primary and secondary sources to make the argument that Pietist virtues were secularized by heads of state throughout Prussian and unified German history, ultimately creating a brand of strict, unique citizenship.

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