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Public Opinion And The Persecution Of Heretics In The Netherlands, 1550–59

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that the gap between the strict laws against heresy and their actual implementation on the ground was accompanied by a conspiracy of silence among Philip’s officials, that left the king very much under-informed about the real state of public opinion around this issue in the Netherlands. The disapproval of Charles V and Philip II was so intense that they decreed the death penalty even for those heretics who were prepared to abjure their convictions, so as to prevent any chance of a ‘relapse’ of the convict or the ‘contamination’ of others. The chapter presents five case studies. The case studies concern a number of exceptional instances, such as the actions of the Inquisitor Titelmans; the open air sermons outside Antwerp in 1558; two major conflicts, one in Amsterdam, the other in Friesland; and finally a remarkable appointment in Groningen, where such conflicts were avoided.

Keywords: Amsterdam; Antwerp; Friesland; Groningen; heretics; Inquisitor Titelmans; Netherlands



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