Religious tolerance at the end of the XVIth century

May 2017
Hello everybody and dear specialists.Did the victories of Drake on the seas (1588) and of Henry IV on the battlefields (1595-1598) against the catholic dictatorship of Philip II constitute an important breaking in the story of the XVIth century with the advent of the religious tolerance (edict of Nantes 1598) first success in the story of the "men s rights".


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
With Henry IV and the Edict of Nantes, I would agree but not with Drake and 1588. The defeat of the Spanish Armada only established the right of England's monarch to choose England's religion without interference from other countries, in this case Spain. But England did not grant full individual freedom of religion to other Protestants until 1688 and to Catholics until the 18th or even the 19th century. Similar to 1588 is the Peace of Augsburg (1555) that only established the right of the king to choose his national religion. Individuals still did not have the right to dissent from the king.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
I think the first mention if individual religious freedom is in the Union of Utrecht.

article XIII said:
As for the matter of religion, the States of Holland and Zeeland shall act according to their own pleasure, and the other Provinces of this Union shall follow the rules set down in the religious peace drafted by Archduke Matthias, governor and captain-general of these countries, with the advice of the Council of State and the States General, or shall establish such general or special regulations in this matter as they shall find good and most fitting for the repose and welfare of the provinces, cities, and individual Members thereof, and the preservation of the property and rights of each individual, whether churchman or layman, and no other Province shall be permitted to interfere or make difficulties, provided that each person shall remain free in his religion and that no one shall be investigated or persecuted because of his religion, as is provided in the Pacification of Ghent…


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
The Ottomans were generally tolerant, though they had a very intolerant episode during the reign of Selim II.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
And then they whacked Van Oldenbarnevelt's head off because he was an Arminian...
Not really. Whole books here have been written on this exact subject. The main issue was who was in control of the army the province of Holland and by extension its pensionary or the republic with the stadtholder. Religion wasn't really the issue at the trial, but it was a trial North-Korea style as the verdict was a foregone conclusion.

But yeah the freedom of individual religion, was mostly on paper, though in many towns Catholics, Arminians (and whatever else, it was a lot. In 1970 we had like 200 different protestant denominations with a viable following) had little problems and donations to the town's bailiff always helped as well. It also differed much per area. In the north and west the reformed movement was rather strong whereas in the south and east it wasn't (illustrated by the fact that they are still predominantly catholic). In the towns themselves it also differed much. Amsterdam for example left people alone, but towns in Sealand much less. In my old town (near Utrecht) for example the town was protestant, but the neighboring villages and farmers were catholic and afaik nobody got persecuted for it.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
There is the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649. Maryland was originally all Roman Catholic. This law was passed with the Puritans in control in England, shortly after the execution of Charles I. The purpose was to allow Catholicism and prevent the persecution of Catholics. It was revoked on orders from Cromwell and again after the Revolution of 1688.

James II proclaimed religious toleration around 1687. However, his motives were suspected and this is one reason he was overthrown.