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Beginning in the sixteenth century, the development of the Reformed Church in Europe caused hundreds of years of controversy and hatred. The underlying cause of this hatred was the opinion of whether or not other sects of Christianity should be tolerated. Writers and philosophers during this time period argued extensively in favor of religious toleration, and the majority of monarchs sought peace between the groups and practiced forced religious toleration in their respective nations. However, there were still those influential figures that argued against religious toleration and sought to eliminate the rights of the other sects of Christianity.
During this time period, an assortment of writers expressed their support for religious toleration through books and pamphlets. Document 1 is a book from a French Huguenot living in Switzerland. He writes, “Who would wish to be a Christian when he saw that those who confessed in the name of Christ were destroyed by Christians themselves with fire, water, and sword without mercy?” This author is declaring that people are avoiding Christianity because they will be ruthlessly murdered by their own kind. He is arguing for religious toleration in the sense that it is necessary to prevent brutal slaughter and the production of a chasm between the people of Europe. Document 6 is a pamphlet in England written by a group of men who were rallying for support of religious toleration. They write, “…to restrain any person from the profession of his faith‚Ķnothing having caused more distractions and anguish in all ages than persecution and molestation for matters of conscience in and about religion.” These authors agree with the arguments set forth in Document 1. They want religious toleration because these divides in religion have caused destruction and anguish in Europe. The feuding groups, in their eyes, are breaking Europe apart. Letters Concerning the English Nation is a letter from another French writer who is idolizing the English stock exchange. The letter describes the exchange as, “There the Jew, the Muslim, and the Christian transact business together, as though they all professed the same religion.” The author is idolizing the stock exchange because it is a congregation of men who put their religions aside to conduct business and make money. He is saying that the multitude of religions is the source of tolerance, because there is so much difference that no one side has priority or strength over another side, as well as the observation that people will associate with anyone necessary in order to gain wealth, regardless of religion. Document 1 is coming from the point of view of a French Huguenot. In France, the predominant religion of that time was Roman Catholic. The Catholics ousted many of the Huguenots, and many fled to Protestant countries, such as Switzerland. However, even in Switzerland, there was still merciless slaughter of Protestants by other Protestants.
Toleration was accepted by some and rejected by others in Europe. 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 on how the anguish of persecution is caused by religious problems (Doc 6). Voltaire writes about how if one religion was allowed in England the government could become heavily tyrannical therefore he states that religious toleration would bring peace and let people live happily.
The religious toleration in the 16th through 18th centuries brought a lot of talk between the arguments and practices of religions. There were people who agreed that religion should all coexist together, have only one practice control everyone, or some with a compromise for the good of their own people. Religious tolerance was a term that was debated and capitalized on for most states and Kingdoms during the Protestant Reformation.

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