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Religious Freedoms

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"Religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other." (The Bill of Rights) Although to many, the "Freedom of Religion" is just another freedom that is there, but in the 1500s Religious freedom was something to die for. Each of the different people of the 1500s had different views on how the Religious freedoms worked and what would happen if you did not follow their laws and ideas. For many it was to follow the Religion that had been installed by the government and go along with what they said, but for some lucky people they had "Free Choice" on what Religions to follow.

First, there is the Polish nobleman of 1573. The Polish Noblemen would never agree with what the Bill of Rights states for Religious Freedoms. In 1572 the Polish King Sigismund II, the last of the Jagiellons, died. In absence of an heir, the Polish Diet elected a successor from nobility around Europe. For "Aristocratic Favor" the Diet of Nobles gained religious freedoms and constitutional rights. From then the Diet of Nobles held the rights to establish a policy of religious toleration. Then in 1587, Sigismund III was elected as the king in Poland. While he accepted the principle of religious toleration to the nobles, he decided to strengthen Catholicism. With Sigismund III supporting the Roman Catholic religion, the Holy Roman Emperor was also working on making his scattered empire one.

The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II had a fragmented Empire religiously and politically. In Bohemia was where the problem was the worst for Ferdinand II. The Peace of Augsburg had given each Prince his right to determine the religious orthodoxy of his principality. In addition, he brutally persecuted all Protestants. Before becoming the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II was the King of Bohemia, and there he quickly alienated all Protestants. Then a group of Protestant Nobles rebelled against Ferdinand II and physically threw two officials out the window of the royal palace. This was the Defenestration of Prague, and it signaled the start of Protestant revolts throughout the Habsburg lands. Once Ferdinand became the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick of Palatinate took over the Bohemian Throne. A fight between Ferdinand and Frederick was inevitable, and the fight between the two was the thirty-year war. At the end of it, the Thirty-Year War it was a victory for the Catholic allies over the Frederick of Palatinate. Ferdinand's forces conquered their adversaries at the Battle of White Mountain and they sacked Bohemia. Even though the Holy Roman Emperor had won the civil war, this just helped to fuel on the pursuance of killing all the Protestant Nobles on the Holy Roman Emperor's land. With the same idea as civil war, the French Politique of the 1570s walked in almost the same steps as Ferdinand and Frederick.

The French Politique of the 1570s was beginning to be split in between the Protestant Calvinists that had come from Geneva and the Catholic Church of France. At almost the same time, the death of the French monarch Henry II left his fifteen- year old san and his queen in control of the royal administration. This action had weakened the central government of France drastically, and it permitted the creation of powerful political factions inside the French aristocracy. The Catholic Guise family allied itself with the royal family and dominated the offices of state and of the Catholic Church in France. The Guise family was extremely intent on the total destruction of the Protestant nobles who presented an opposition. Protestant nobles, led by the Bourbon family and Henry of Navarre raised armies and initiated a civil war in 1562. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage. The Protestants were reduced to defending cities in their control, largely in southern France. Catherine de Medici's unsuccessfully attempted a compromise, which was when Henry of Navarre was offered the hand of Charles IXs sister with the wedding to take place in Paris. The marriage ended up being a deception intended to lure Protestant leaders to the capital city



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