Edict of toleration

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An edict of toleration is a declaration, made by a government or ruler, and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions. The edict implies tacit acceptance of the religion rather than its endorsement by the ruling power.

Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

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Edicts of toleration in history

Ancient times

Cyrus Cylinder ancient cylinder covered with Akkadian cuneiform script

The Cyrus Cylinder or Cyrus Charter is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia's Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great. It dates from the 6th century BC and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia in 1879. It is currently in the possession of the British Museum, which sponsored the expedition that discovered the cylinder. It was created and used as a foundation deposit following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was invaded by Cyrus and incorporated into his Persian Empire.

Cyrus the Great King and founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called 'King of Anshan', but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is 'King of Persia'. The coup therefore took place between these two events."

Marduk Babylonian god

Marduk was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi, he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.

Middle Ages

The Compacts of Basel, also known as Basel Compacts or Compactata, was an agreement between the Council of Basel and the moderate Hussites, which was ratified by the Estates of Bohemia and Moravia in Jihlava on 5 July 1436. The agreement authorized Hussite priests to administer the sacramental wine to laymen during the Eucharist. The Council of Basel ratified the document on 15 January 1437, but it acknowledged that the communion under both kinds was not heretical only on 23 December.

Hussites Religious and military movement

The Hussites were a pre-Protestant Christian movement that followed the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus, who became the best known representative of the Bohemian Reformation.

Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor Monarch from the House Luxemburg, 1387 to 1437 King of Hungary, 1410 to 1437 King of Germany,  1419 to 1437 King of Bohemia and 1433 to 1437 Holy Roman Emperor

Sigismund of Luxembourg was prince-elector of Brandenburg from 1378 until 1388 and from 1411 until 1415, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1387, king of Germany from 1411, king of Bohemia from 1419, king of Italy from 1431, and Holy Roman emperor from 1433 until 1437, and the last male member of the House of Luxembourg. In 1396 he led the Crusade of Nicopolis, which attempted to liberate Bulgaria and save the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople from Ottoman rule. Afterwards, he founded the Order of the Dragon to fight the Turks. He was regarded as highly educated, spoke several languages and was an outgoing person who also took pleasure in the tournament. Sigismund was one of the driving forces behind the Council of Constance that ended the Papal Schism, but which also led to the Hussite Wars that dominated the later period of Sigismund's life.

Early modern period

The Edict of Saint-Germain, also known as the Edict of January, was a decree of tolerance promulgated by the regent of France, Catherine de' Medici, in January 1562. It provided limited tolerance to the Protestant Huguenots in the Roman Catholic realm.

Catherine de Medici 16th-century Italian noblewoman and queen consort of France

Catherine de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo II de' Medici and Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne, was an Italian noblewoman who was queen of France from 1547 until 1559, by marriage to King Henry II. As the mother of kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III, she had extensive, if at times varying, influence in the political life of France. From 1560 to 1563, she ruled France as regent for her son Charles IX, King of France.

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. Regent is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as queen regent.

Büdingen Place in Hesse, Germany

Büdingen is a town in the Wetteraukreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is mainly known for its well-preserved, heavily fortified medieval town wall and half-timbered houses.

The Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group native to Tatarstan and wider Volga region. They speak Tatar, a Kipchak Turkic language. The vast majority of Tatars today reside in post-Soviet countries, primarily in Russia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. The vast majority of Tatars are Muslims.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Late modern period

An Edict of Toleration was decreed by King Kamehameha III of Hawaii on June 17, 1839, which allowed for the establishment of the Hawaii Catholic Church. The religious traditions of ancient Hawaii were preferred by Kings Kamehameha and Kamehameha II, with the Roman Catholic Church being suppressed in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Later, during the regency of Kaahumanu and the child king Kamehameha III, the Congregational church was the preferred Christian denomination. Kamehameha III issued the edict under the threat of force by the French government, as the French were seeking to protect the work of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The 1840 Constitution later enshrined religious liberty. Under the threat, King Kamehameha III paid the $20,000 in compensation for the deportation of the priests and the incarceration and torture of converts.

Kamehameha III Monarch of the Hawaiian Islands

Kamehameha III was the third king of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1825 to 1854. His full Hawaiian name was Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa and then lengthened to Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kīwalaʻō i ke kapu Kamehameha when he ascended the throne.

The Edict of Toleration took place during the process referred to as the Eastern Question in relations between European powers, Britain in particular, and the Ottoman Empire in its development at a time referred to as Tanzimat internally which included other initiatives like ending the Ottoman slave trade a few years later but overall as part of the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire – a process that continued into the 1920s. It was largely a result of pressure from the British government on the Sublime Porte, Abdülmecid I of the Ottomans, urging to stop the persecutions of the Christians, and eventually had an effect on the persecutions of Jews, continuing effects such as the earlier Damascus affair. It is one of the edicts of toleration of history.

20th century

See also

Related Research Articles

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Pope Miltiades, also known as Melchiades the African, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 311 to his death in 314. It was during his pontificate that Emperor Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan (313), giving Christianity legal status within the Roman Empire. The Pope also received the palace of Empress Fausta where the Lateran Palace, the papal seat and residence of the papal administration, would be built. At the Lateran Council, during the schism with the Church of Carthage, Miltiades condemned the rebaptism of apostatised bishops and priests, teaching of Donatus Magnus.

Freedom of religion freedom practicing of religion

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Maryland Toleration Act

The Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, was a law mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians. It was passed on April 21, 1649, by the assembly of the Maryland colony, in St. Mary's City. It was the second law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies and created one of the pioneer statutes passed by the legislative body of an organized colonial government to guarantee any degree of religious liberty. Specifically, the bill, now usually referred to as the Toleration Act, granted freedom of conscience to all Christians. Historians argue that it helped inspire later legal protections for freedom of religion in the United States. The Calvert family, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies.

Edict of Nantes granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (Huguenots) substantial rights

The Edict of Nantes, signed in April 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in the nation, which was still considered essentially Catholic at the time. In the edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity. The edict separated civil from religious unity, treated some Protestants for the first time as more than mere schismatics and heretics, and opened a path for secularism and tolerance. In offering general freedom of conscience to individuals, the edict offered many specific concessions to the Protestants, such as amnesty and the reinstatement of their civil rights, including the right to work in any field or for the state and to bring grievances directly to the king. It marked the end of the religious wars that had afflicted France during the second half of the 16th century.

Edict of Milan February AD 313 agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire

The Edict of Milan was the February AD 313 agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the Edict of Toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in AD 380 with the Edict of Thessalonica.

Edict of Fontainebleau 1685 edict

The Edict of Fontainebleau was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict of Nantes (1598) had granted the Huguenots the right to practice their religion without persecution from the state. Though Protestants had lost their independence in places of refuge under Richelieu on account of their supposed insubordination, they continued to live in comparative security and political contentment. From the outset, religious toleration in France had been a royal, rather than a popular policy. The lack of universal adherence to his religion did not sit well with Louis XIV's vision of perfected autocracy: "Bending all else to his will, Louis XIV resented the presence of heretics among his subjects."

Toleration the practice of allowing or permitting a thing, person, or idea of which one disapproves

Toleration is the allowing, permitting, or acceptance of an action, idea, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with. Random House Dictionary defines tolerance as "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own". Toleration may signify "no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken, or harmful."

Constantine the Great and Christianity Constantine and Christianity

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have often argued about which form of early Christianity he subscribed to. There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena's Christianity in his youth, or, as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea, encouraged her to convert to the faith he had adopted himself.

Diocletianic Persecution

The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.

Patent of Toleration

The Patent of Toleration was an edict of toleration issued on 13 October 1781 by the Habsburg emperor Joseph II. Part of the Josephinist reforms, the Patent extended religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians living in the crown lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, including Lutherans, Calvinists, and the Eastern Orthodox. Specifically, these members of minority faiths were now legally permitted to hold "private religious exercises" in clandestine churches.

1782 Edict of Tolerance

The 1782 Edict of Tolerance was a religious reform of Emperor Joseph II during the time he was emperor of the Habsburg Monarchy as part of his policy of Josephinism, a series of drastic reforms to remodel Austria in the form of the ideal Enlightened state. Joseph II's enlightened despotism included the Patent of Toleration, enacted in 1781, and the Edict of Tolerance in 1782. The Patent of Toleration granted religious freedom to the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Serbian Orthodox, but it was not until the 1782 Edict of Tolerance that Joseph II extended religious freedom to the Jewish population.


This article gives a historical overview of Christian positions on Persecution of Christians, persecutions by Christians, religious persecution and toleration. Christian theologians like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas legitimized religious persecution to various extents, and during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Christians considered heresy and dissent punishable offences and they also fought wars to impose Christianity on non-Christian populations. However, Early modern Europe witnessed the turning point in the history of Christian thought on persecution and tolerance. Christian writers like John Milton and John Locke argued for limited religious toleration, while some Christians eventually came to support the concept of religious freedom which was developed by secular authors like Thomas Jefferson. Nowadays Christians generally accept the belief that heresy and dissent are not punishable by a civil authority. Many Christians "look back on the centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension."

The "Peace of the Church" is a designation usually applied to the condition of the Church after the publication of the Edict of Milan in 313 by the two Augusti, Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and his eastern colleague Licinius, an edict of toleration by which the Christians were accorded liberty to practise their religion without state interference.

Edict of Serdica

The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East.

History of religious pluralism

The history of religious pluralism is the fruit of a long development that reaches from antiquity to contemporary trends in postmodernity.

The Edict of Thessalonica, issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman Emperors, made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The religious policies of Constantine I concerned the increasing toleration of Christianity, as well as stricter regulations against practices of Roman polytheism. This marked a decided shift from the religious policies of his predecessors, who did not tolerate Christianity. His initial proclamations included prohibitions on the construction of new temples, while still tolerating Pagan sacrifices. Later in his reign, he gave orders for the pillaging and the tearing down of pagan temples.

Edict of Versailles

The Edict of Versailles, commonly known as the Edict of Tolerance, was an official act that gave non-Catholics in France the right to openly practice their religions as well as legal and civil status, which included the right to contract marriages without having to convert to the Catholic faith. The edict was signed by Louis XVI on 7 November 1787, and registered in the Parlement of Paris of the Ancien Régime on 29 January 1788. Its successful enactment was due to persuasive arguments by prominent French philosophers and literary personalities of the day, including Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, the Duc de Choiseul, by Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, and especially by the joint work of Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, minister to Louis XVI, and Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne, spokesman for the Protestant community in France.

References

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  3. Sours, Michael (1998). "The 1844 Ottoman 'Edict of Toleration' in Baha'i Secondary Literature". Journal of Baha'i Studies. 8 (3): 53–80.
  4. Pospielovsky, Dmitry (1984). The Russian Church Under the Soviet Regime . Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press. p. 22. ISBN   0-88141-015-2.