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30. Toleranz

From the book Handbuch Frieden im Europa der Frühen Neuzeit / Handbook of Peace in Early Modern Europe

  • Ulrich Niggemann


Toleration For early modern contemporaries, ‚toleration‘ meant an undesirable practice of suffering the unavoidable. It was in part a result of pluralisation, a social practice and a counterpart of religious violence. ‚Toleration‘ was also a speech act with very different intentions: both a reaction to violence and persecution and a term used in polemical attacks on the confessional other. The word was also used as a term of self-fashioning by elite groups, especially in the Enlightenment. Some rulers practiced toleration based on reason of state to avoid destructive conflicts or saw it as a means of gaining economic advantages. In the context of inter-state relations, toleration played a role in dealings between diplomats. Here it was a social practice between the actors. Moreover, the protection of minorities enshrined in peace contracts often made toleration within states necessary to avoid external intervention. Yet toleration was controversial. It was frequently regarded as an instrument to achieve certain aims; it was rarely an objective in itself.

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