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.

Edicts of toleration in history[edit]

Ancient times[edit]

Middle Ages[edit]

  • 1436 – The Compacts of Basel (valid for the Crown of Bohemia, previously declared in 1420 and approved by the Council of Basle in 1433) were formally accepted by Catholics and Utraquists (moderate Hussites) at an assembly in Jihlava and agreed by King and Emperor Sigismund, introducing a limited toleration and stating that "the word of God is to be freely and truthfully preached by the priests of the Lord, and by worthy deacons"

Early modern period[edit]

  • 29 March 1712 – Tolerance Act of Ernst Casimir in Büdingen. It guaranteed vollkommene Gewissensfreiheit (complete freedom of conscience) and demanded in return, the civil authorities and subjects both in their homes to behave as honorable, decent and Christian. The real aim was to counteract the war and plague which had caused the population decline.
  • 17 June 1773 – Tolerance Edict of Catherine II of Russia, in response to domestic political disputes with the Muslim Tatars. In the tolerance edict, she promised the toleration of all religious denominations in the Russian Empire, except for the large number of Jews who came under Russian rule after the First partition of Poland.
  • 1781/82 – A Patent of Toleration and linked 1782 Edict of Tolerance (for Jews) issued by the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, extended religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians living in Habsburg lands, including: Lutherans, Calvinists, and the Greek Orthodox. However, in the end, Joseph's Catholic conscience got the best of him, as he rescinded his own toleration patent while on his deathbed.
  • 1784 – Tolerance Edict of Elector Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, meant toleration of Protestants in the Electorate of Trier.
  • 29 November 1787 – The Edict of Versailles, issued by Louis XVI of France, ended persecution of non-Catholics - including Huguenots.

Late modern period[edit]

20th century[edit]

  • 30 April 1905 – Edict of Toleration issued by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia gives legal status to religions not of the Russian Orthodox Church. Followed by the edict of 30 October 1906 giving legal status to schismatics and sectarians of the ROC.[4]
  • 13 February 1942 – Racial-Ideology Tolerance Edict of the Nazi chief ideologist Alfred Rosenberg - 3 Clause rights +31 obligations for the Reichskommissariat Ostland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "In the Light and Shadow of an Emperor: Tomás Pereira, S.J. (1645-1708), the Kangxi Emperor and the Jesuit Mission in China", An International Symposium in Commemoration of the 3rd Centenary of the death of Tomás Pereira, S.J., Lisbon, Portugal and Macau, China, 2008 
  2. ^ S. Neill, A History of Christian Missions (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books,964), pp. 189l90.
  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. 

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