This introductory chapter lays out the groundwork for a study into the human networks of Wilno in the mid-seventeenth century. It presents the reasons for why Wilno is an ideal case study for how a multiethnic and multiconfessional early modern city functioned—as the site of daily interactions among a bewildering array of versions of the two larger cultural spheres of the Romano-Germanic (and partly Slavic) world of Reformation and Catholic Reform on the one hand and Orthodox Slavdom on the other, and as the subject of a number of available historical sources that can provide insights into the “how” of coexistence. The chapter then turns to a brief historical background of the city and presents an overview of the body of historiographical material to be undertaken in this study.
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