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Religious Toleration In Early Modern

By clearblueskiesx Nov 09, 2014 1640 Words
 Religious Toleration in Early Modern Europe Emily Hannah 2A Most states in early modern Europe had a distinct religion set for them by their ruler; yet quite a few small splinter groups remained among the others. There are some states that allowed religious toleration, and in other states, anyone tolerating anything but Catholicism was quickly sent to the galleys or prison for the rest of their lives. The three aspects of this ongoing argument consist of the political aspects of the Catholic churches and officials, the religious beliefs of the Protestants, and how the minorities of Protestants and Catholics in larger states with dominant religions were treated socially and religiously. The Catholics in early modern Europe were simply baffled and when they realized that not everyone was agreeing with their ways of Christianity. “How can one rule without a dominant religion?” was asked by Maria Theresa, an Austrian Empress in the late 1700s. (Doc 12) The differences of faith in the kingdoms were tearing the land apart, one civil dispute at a time. Maria Theresa was an Austrian Empress of great power and nobility, she had all the say in her government and she was extremely biased about her opinion on religion, considering she was Catholic. To Maria Theresa, it is unhuman to allow everyone to have their own thoughts. In her eyes, it was simply impossible to successfully run a kingdom with subjects who worship an “imaginary religion which can never exist”. As stated before, Maria was Catholic, and she wanted her son, the heir to the throne to realize his disastrous mistakes before the entire welfare was destroyed by Protestants. King Louis XIV was also biased to his own religion, him being Catholic along with Maria Theresa. His grandfather, Henry IV had published the Edict of Nantes, granting Protestants religious freedom in France to settle disputes. Henry was murdered in 1610, leaving Louis to take the throne years after the Edict was published and put into effect. According to Louis, the new king, over half of the population of Protestants had already switched back to Catholicism without any trouble, so he would force the rest of the Protestants to return to the Catholic Church or be sent away to the galleys or prison. He revoked the Edict of Nantes with the Edict of Fontainebleau in October, 1865. He stated in the edict, “…we have determined that we can do nothing better, in order to obliterate the memory of the troubles, the confusion, and the evils which this false religion has caused in this kingdom than to entirely revoke the Edict of Nantes…”. (Doc 8) Louis XIV published the document, writing it in a way so it seemed only fair to everyone to immediately switch back to Catholicism; yet instead he set off a fire in the Protestants that caused them to escape from France. France was left in political and economic ruins. Paul hay du Chastelet was a Catholic political writer, who was a nobleman. He was certain that people of different faiths were divided in kingdoms, causing disputes and riots and everything unpleasant for the political world of France. A division of beliefs caused general catastrophe, driving brothers to hate one another simply because of religion. He supports unity; especially in Catholic faith. “…since our religion is the only one which offers salvation…” (Doc 7) Catholicism was the best way to total success in a kingdom, and in a person’s plan to receive entrance to heaven. Controlling the brawls and conflicts between the two faiths of Christianity was a proven struggle in early modern Europe. Many Catholic rulers, like Louis XIV attempted to convert all his subjects to Catholicism to save his skin, the welfare, and the wellbeing of his kingdom while holding his fort down under one faith. The Calvinist Church in the Netherlands pronounced that the church cannot decide or change your salvation. God gives you the freedom/salvation that you deserve; that you earn through hard work. “The Reformed [Calvinist] Church cannot exempt [a person] from God’s law nor teach anything else… or promise anyone freedom and salvation except those to whom God has promised them.” (Doc 3) The Protestants did not believe in what the Catholics did, they believed that religion should be based off the scripture. Their beliefs were similar to Wycliffe’s, who also believed that you should practice only what is in the Bible. Indulgences, charity, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Last Rite were not necessary. Yet, the Catholics still believed the best way to connect with God and to succeed in gaining salvation was to give your life to the Church. The Protestants stated that they had to do whatever they did very well, for God had given them that skill. The Synod of Middelburg (the Calvinist church council) was biased to their religion, because the fight against Catholicism. They were religious officials, sticking to what they believed in so their document was biased to Protestantism. The Agreement between King Charles XII (Lutheran) and the Catholic Roman Holy Emperor Joseph I proclaims that Lutherans can go to church safely and not be forced into Catholicism, in Silesia. They didn’t have to hire Catholic ministers to practice with them, they didn’t have to prohibit the performance of quiet private practices with one’s family, and they were not expected to take part in Catholic traditions. The document basically revoked the Treaty of Augsburg, which had previously prohibited rights for the Lutherans. In document 10, the agreement states “… every Lutheran shall be permitted to travel freely to neighboring districts where the Lutheran religion thrives.” The previously prohibited Lutherans were then free to practice their faith without disturbance, the separation of church and state came into place. To the Protestants, giving your life to the church was just as effective as a normal commoner who was religious. All vocations were equal, and in their eyes, everyone was the church. The Edict of Nantes established a freedom for the Reformers. They could live among the others in the kingdoms without being disturbed by Catholics, and they could not be forced into another religion. The Edict of Nantes reassured the Protestants without turning away the Catholics; it made a balance that most people could be content with. King Henry IV was not biased in his document; he was a Catholic ruler despite the religious tolerance he admitted for his subjects. “…we permit to those of the reformed religion to live and dwell in the cities and places of our kingdom… without being inquired after, vexed, molested…” (Doc 5) Many of the reformers faced multiple obstacles while trying to practice their faith. They were accused of being heretics, they were questioned, chased down, and some people even forced them to what was wrong of their religion. The contract between the Catholic Church chapter and the municipal council of Bautzen, Saxony stated that Lutherans could practice their faith. (Doc 4) But, there wasn’t total religious freedom. There had to be a balance between the Catholics and the Lutherans or something terrible, like an outbreak, was bound to happen. The Lutherans could only practice until eight in the morning, using the upper galley of the Church. There was no chance of an interaction with a Catholic. “… so as not to hinder Catholics in the practice of their services and ceremonies.” (Doc 4) The amount of religious freedom had increased immensely, but not entirely to the point where Catholics and Lutherans could practice their faith whenever they pleased. There was a similar agreement with the regents of Amsterdam and the Franciscan friar Egidius de Glabbais. (Doc 9)The Netherlands were to be secular after the 1600s, yet the regents of Amsterdam gave Glabbais the authority to open a new Catholic church. The Catholics had similar rules to which the Reformers had in the contract between the Catholic Church and the council of Bautzen, Saxony. The new Catholic Church was located behind an alley, out of sight. There was to be no interaction with a Protestant. Catholics were not to leave church holding a book or any “offensive objects.” There was freedom to practice what you pleased, but there were rules alongside that cut the freedom shorter than expected. Voltaire, a French writer and philosopher stated that a multitude of religions would lead to peace. “If one religion were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happily and in peace.” (Doc 11) Voltaire stated that all people of all races met and did business together without any trouble, so why did there have to be a problem? Voltaire was biased because he was noble in a higher class and was known for his witty attacks against the Catholic Church, creating plays and writing stories that expressed the importance of the separation of church and state. The arguments over religious toleration split Europe into pieces; who was right, who was wrong? Did the religion you ruled your kingdom with really affect your political power? The way Protestants treated Catholics and the way Catholics treated Protestants was normally cruel, proof being the riots and disputes that continued for years. The Catholic rulers believed that Catholicism was the best way to control their subjects, keeping the kingdom in place. The Protestants were still eager for their religious freedom, which, as proven by the minorities that continued to appear, was slowly but surely gained. The kingdoms with dominant religions and attached little splinter groups of another faith had to find a balance between the religions, keeping the whole kingdom free of riots, disputes, and wars. The Catholics and Protestants were all Christians, yes, but the way they practiced their faith and how they tolerated each other changed the whole religious face of early modern Europe.

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