HIS 317N • ROOTS OF RELIGIOUS TOLERATION
Throughout the medieval period, religious conformity was enforced by religious authorities in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic societies alike, though with differing degrees of coercion. But in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, a fundamental revision of thinking about religious difference began to take root. This course will examine how thinking about freedom of conscience and religion crystallized in western and central Europe, both as a pragmatic practice and as a matter of principle. We will consider the following questions: What were the psychological and theological obstacles to accepting the practice of toleration, and why were they so powerful (as they still are in some societies)? What social conditions and patterns of thinking led to the emergence of a principle of toleration? How did this principle become embedded in western legal systems? And how did quite different models of religious toleration emerge in different places?