By R. Po-chia Hsia (Editor), Henk van Nierop (Editor)
Dutch society has loved a name, or notoriety, for permissiveness because the 16th century. The Dutch Republic within the Golden Age was once the single society that tolerated non secular dissenters of all persuasions in early glossy Europe. satirically, it used to be dedicated to a strictly Calvinist public Church and in addition to the maintenance of non secular plurality. R. Po-chia Hsia and Henk van Nierop have introduced jointly a gaggle of best historians from the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands. Their extraordinary essays probe the heritage and fable of Dutch non secular toleration.
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Extra info for Calvinism and Religious Toleration in the Dutch Golden Age
It is the combination of both these characteristics that made the United Provinces unique: a tacit toleration of religious diversity that was allowed to flourish as long as the necessary concord between believers did not endanger the unity of the body politic and the civic community. Rather than the concept of unity it is, effectively, that of concordia, which was at the centre of the religious policy of the United Provinces; it was moreover written into the motto of the state (Concordia res parvae crescunt).
But, written into the very heart of the relation between public service and the modern state, it must not make us forget the novelty of the structure that the state of the Netherlands built up over a very long period; the circumstantial nature of its religious policy is especially surprising. Built in part on a refusal of Catholic monopoly, then on the refusal of any religious monopoly, the state placed itself under the banner of freedom of conscience. Written into the Union of Utrecht, this remained the genuine touchstone of the state edifice.
Connivance and concord: these are precisely the two pillars of the civil policy of religious peace in the Republic, which we shall come across again throughout this chapter. By adopting the principle of freedom of conscience, understood not as freedom of religious practice, but as freedom of thought, the United Provinces automatically became a distinctive case in the European landscape. Throughout Europe, in fact, territorial or community limitations of religious conscience by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities remained the rule, even in places where edicts of toleration for a particular confession had been issued.