Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Crises of the Western States (16th century)

The Crises of the Western States (16th century)
One King, One faith, One law. This was the prescription that members of all the European states accepted without question in the sixteenth century. Society was an integrated whole, equally dependent upon monarchical, ecclesiastical and civil authority for its effective survival. A European state could no more tolerate the presence of the two kings. But reformation had created two churches. The coexistence of both Catholics and Protestants in a single realm post a stark challenge to accepted theory and traditional practice.

In Germany where the problem first arose, the Peace of Augsburg (1555) enacted the most logical solution. The religion of the ruler was to be the religion of the subjects. Princes, town government, or bishops would determine faith. Not surprisingly, this was a policy more convenient for ruler than for the ruled. Sudden conversions of princes, a hallmark of Protestantism, threw the state into disarray. Those closely identified with Catholicism as well as those firmly believed in its doctrines had no choice but to move to a neighboring Catholic community and begin again. Given the dependence of ordinary people upon networks of kin and neighbors, enforced migration was devastating. Protestants minorities in Catholics states suffered the same fate. The enmity between the two groups came as much from bitter experience as from differences of believe.
The Crises of the Western States (16th century)
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