Throughout the period of the Protestant Reformation, the ideas of religious toleration were constantly debated. The Reformation was a period of major religious change and conflict across Europe in the 16th century. Reformers including Martin Luther, John Calvin and others, who all sought to directly challenge a corrupt church system. It brought about many wars and revolts in Europe such as the Thirty Years War and the Counter-Reformation. The Reformation led to the reevaluation of some tenets and doctrines of Roman Catholicism and resulted many social, political and economic effects.Numbers of provinces believed in one state having one religion, other regions believed in religious freedom and were against the ideas of being subjected to a particular religion while some were willing to make compromises and middle ground decisions.
Religious toleration was widely accepted by Europeans in 16th and 17th century. The Edict of Nantes, issued by King Henry IV of France in April 1598, the main purpose was to grant Protestant especially Calvinist equivalent rights in the nation which was mostly Catholic (Doc. 5). William, Prince of Orange wanted to ensure to keep his country safe so his proclamation to the people of the Netherlands stating that religious toleration was needed so Spain could not potentially harm them, therefore tolerance was a way to keep the peace inside their country (Doc 2) In 1649, the Agreement of the Free People of England pamphlet wrote by English reformers who were rallying for religious toleration, “…to restrain any person from the profession of his faith…nothing having caused more distractions and anguish in all ages than persecution and molestation for matters of conscience in and about religion” (Doc 6). They want religious toleration because the disunity and divides between the different religions have caused destruction and distress in Europe
Many others disagreed that freedom of religion brought peace, but that religious uniformity was the way to stability. No toleration from the some of the Roman and French people was evident against the Protestants and vice versa. A Calvinist church council in the Netherlands promotes the punishments of anyone who isn’t Calvinist , they forbids the subjects of Catholicism or any other form of Christianity therefore they disregard any other faith especially the Catholic faith (Doc 3). Louis XIV was against religious toleration, he eliminates religious toleration from his Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685. His Edict was a Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he ordered the demolition Protestant churches and schools completely eliminates religious toleration. Paul Hay du Chastelet, a French Catholic aristocrat, expresses his intolerance for other religious beliefs and his beliefs in keeping France Catholic, “unity of belief binds men together. Fellow subjects who pray to God in the same church and worship at the same altar will rarely fight each other.”(Doc 7)
Some people made compromises and middle ground decisions, they passed laws or found ways to please the different religious beliefs and provide stability, unity and peace through compromise.
Religious toleration in 16th and 17th century brought about many arguments and practices. It was constantly debated and reviewed during the Protestant Reformation. Some people made agreements to bring coexistence between different religious beliefs, some were against toleration and wanted only one religion for everyone while some were able to make compromises and middle ground decisions that would favor the people.