How Did The Age Of Religious Wars Affect The Development Of Political Theory In The Early Modern Period (1540-1789)?

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How did the age of religious wars affect the development of political theory in the early modern period (1540-1789)?

The Protestant Reformation created the most serious challenge to toleration in early modern Europe. Martin Luther (1483-1546), John Calvin (1509-1564), and Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) were the three most influential leaders of this movement, which permanently divided Christian Europe. Each demanded toleration for their own movement, but could be intolerant of other religions. Early Catholic responses included violent repression of the Protestants, but Humanists like Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536) called for a more irenic response of continuing dialogue and peaceful admonition.

Early Protestants soon justified being left alone based on their interpretations of the Bible. Spiritualists like Hans Denck (c. 1495-1527) and Sebastian Franck (c. 1499-c. 1542) and mystics like Jakob Böhme (1575-1624) felt that God is within every man, and religious individualism is God's purpose. Persecuted Anabaptists from Balthasar Hubmaier (1485-1528) and David Joris (c. 1501-1556) to Thomas Helwys (c. 1550-c. 1616) and Leonard Busher (dates unknown) argued that religious persecution is against the spirit of Jesus Christ and that judgment about matters of faith should be left to God.

Menno Simons (1496-1561), founder of the Mennonites, argued for Christian pacifism, and Italian Protestants like Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564) and Celio Secondo Curione (1503-1569) defended their right to religious toleration on such grounds as faith is a gift from God, it is tyranny to punish an error of the soul, and God's church has room for great variety.

At first the Protestants could claim the high moral ground because they did not use violence like their Catholic opponents. Then, in 1553, Michael Servetus (1511-1553) was burned for antitrinitarian heresy in Calvin's Geneva. This provoked Sébastien Castellio (1515-1563) to write some of the first sustained defenses of toleration. De haereticis (1554; Concerning heretics) collected the irenic opinions of ...
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