Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe

In U.S. Protestant circles there is a particularly popular story about the origins of religious toleration. In the aftermath of the Reformation, the story goes, there was an Age of Religious Wars typified by unrelenting repression in all matters religious. Puritans preached denial of the flesh and persecuted alleged witches, Catholic inquisitors burned heretics at the stake, and papalists sought to reestablish the Catholic Church’s fading political power. Most of all, the period was a time of violence by Christians against Christians—a time in which denominational affiliations and sectarian differences toppled kingdoms and launched armies. Religious intolerance ruled.

 

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