Religious Intolerance as Policy During the Reformation

Essay by belskyHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2002

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

Ever since the biblical dispute of Ishmael and Isaac, persons of different ethnic backgrounds have fought - verbally and physically - over matters of religion and culture. However, the Reformation era of the 15th through 17th Centuries brought about an historic and unique kind of discrimination, because Roman Catholicism in Europe had never been viably challenged within Christianity. True, Eastern Orthodoxy was developed earlier in the millennium, and its Church in Russia and Greece did frequently quarrel with the Catholics. Yet, the centers of the Reformation were geographically much closer to the Catholic Church than that of the Orthodox, and the arguments made by Protestants were very specific to Church doctrine. These both undermined the Church's power very much and led church-friendly governments to crack down on their own religious oppositions. Therefore, the religiously based, if not theocratic governments of the Reformation Era generally felt the need to oppress those within up-and-coming minority religions in policy.

The year of 1492 is widely known as the year of Columbus's "discovery" of the New World. Also a dealing of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Jews' expulsion from the country of Spain also took place in this year. Around the timeframe of this event was the Inquisition, in which suspected Jews, infidels and heretics were interrogated by Spanish (Catholic) officials. Although the Inquisition happened before Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517, before the real Reformation even started, it shows a good example of how Renaissance governments responded to those of minority status.

Accused Jews, Muslims and heretics, however, were much more of a minority than the Huguenots in France. The Huguenots, being Protestants, obviously struck a nerve with Catholic governmental influences such as Catherine de Medici. Although there is no influential force such as the Medici family in Ireland, one can draw...