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Group Identity And Opinion Among The Huguenot Diaspora And The Challenge Of Pierre Bayle's Toleration Theory (1685–1706)

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Chapter Summary

Europe having suffered severely from religious warfare and violence during the age of the Thirty Years’ War, it is scarcely surprising that the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth witnessed a debate on public toleration on a scale never before seen in the West. On one level toleration was a theme which bound together the Huguenot public everywhere as practically nothing else could, in a sense even more than the Reformed faith. In fact, during the years both immediately before and after Pierre Bayle’s death, in December 1706, nearly all Dutch and Dutch Huguenot commentators came to see his thought in general and his toleration theory in particular as something dangerously subversive even from the most liberal Christian, let alone orthodox Calvinist, viewpoint. In principle, under Bayle’s theory of toleration there is no way for agnostics, indifférents, Spinozists, Confucianists or any kind of philosophical atheists to be denied toleration.

Keywords: Dutch Huguenot commentators; Europe; Huguenot diaspora; orthodox Calvinist; Pierre Bayle’s toleration theory



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