from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The struggle (1871-1883) between the Roman Catholic Church and the German government under Bismarck for control over school and ecclesiastical appointments and civil marriage.
  • n. A conflict between secular and religious authorities: "The 1920s proved to be the focal decade in the Kulturkampf of American Protestantismā€ ( Richard Hofstadter).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Lit., culture war; -- a name, originating with Virchow (1821 - 1902), given to a struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and the German government, chiefly over the latter's efforts to control educational and ecclesiastical appointments in the interest of the political policy of centralization. The struggle began with the passage by the Prussian Diet in May, 1873, of the so-called May laws, or Falk laws, aiming at the regulation of the clergy. Opposition eventually compelled the government to change its policy, and from 1880 to 1887 laws virtually nullifying the May laws were enacted.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A struggle for civilization: a name given to the conflict between the imperial government of Germany and the Roman Church, which lasted from 1872 till 1886.


German : Kultur, Kultur; see Kultur + Kampf, struggle (from Middle High German, from Old High German kamph, probably ultimately from Latin campus, field).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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