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IMPORTANT EVENTS
in Religion

1598The Edict of Nantes establishes a limited degree of religious toleration for Calvinist Huguenots in France.
1606Jacob Arminius, a Dutch Calvinist theologian, rejects predestination and upholds free will in an address to his faculty at the University of Leiden. His ideas are considered heretical but his position, later known as Arminianism, begins to attract disciples.
1610King Henri IV of France is murdered by the fanatical Catholic Ravaillac because of his policy of tolerance towards French Protestants. Henri's wife, Marie de' Medici will assume the throne over the coming years as regent.
1611James I issues the Authorized Version of the Bible in English for use in the Churches of England and Scotland. The Bible will become known as the "King James Version."
1618The Thirty Years' War begins in Central Europe. The conflict will be the bloodiest of all the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
1619The Synod of Dordrecht meets in Holland to discuss the issues of predestination and free will. The meetings are attended by Calvinist theologians from throughout Europe, and the Synod's condemnation of free will is widely adopted throughout Calvinist churches.
1620The Battle of White Mountain, staged on a hill outside Prague, destroys Czech Protestantism, and opens the door for the re-catholicization of Bohemia under the Austrian Habsburgs.
The Puritan Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock in North America with the goal of establishing a society in which freedom of religion is an ideal.
1622Pope Gregory XV creates the "Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith" at Rome, an organization that is charged with overseeing Catholic missions both in Europe and in the rest of the world.
1624In the German diocesan capital of Bamberg, Bishop Gottfried Johann Georg II begins a persecution of supposed witches that will rage over the next three years and leave hundreds of inhabitants of the region dead.
1625King Christian IV of Denmark invades Germany under the pretext of aiding Protestantism but in the hopes of expanding his territory. Four years later his expansionist campaign will be rebuffed and Denmark will no longer rank among the great European powers.
1630Puritans establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony with its center in Boston.
1633In England, Charles I names William Laud as archbishop of Canterbury. From this position, Laud will begin to persecute Puritans.
1640The Dutch Catholic theologian Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus is published two years following the author's death. The work defends the theology of Augustine, and soon invigorates a devotional movement in France that supports Augustinianism against the perceived Pelagianism of the Jesuits.
In England the "Long Parliament" comes to power. Its Puritan measures will eventually result in the outbreak of civil war with the king and, following Parliament's victory, the country will be ruled as a Commonwealth under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.
1642The Puritan-dominated Long Parliament orders the closure of London's theaters because of their "godless immorality."
1645William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, is executed at London by Parliament. Over the previous decades his policies of persecution and his support of high church ritual had angered the Puritan party.
1648The Treaty of Westphalia is signed at Münster in Germany, ending the dismal conflicts of the Thirty Years' War. The treaty recognizes Calvinism's legality but reasserts the sixteenth-century principle that German rulers have the right to choose which religion will be followed in their states.
1649King Charles I is executed in England following a long period of civil war between Puritans and Cavaliers (supporters of the Crown).
1650An English judge uses the term "Quaker" to describe George Fox and his followers. Fox is at the time on trial for his religious beliefs.
1653Pope Innocent X condemns the teachings of Cornelius Jansen because they violate a papal prohibition against discussing the precise nature of free will and predestination and veer dangerously close to the extreme teachings of Calvinism concerning salvation.
1656Blaise Pascal, a brilliant French mathematician and a Jansenist, begins to publish his Provincial Letters, a work that satirically attacks the lax morality of the Jesuits.
1660The Stuart Prince of Wales is restored to the English throne as Charles II.
1662Charles II issues a new Book of Common Prayer for the English church that is modeled in many respects upon that of Elizabeth I's reign.
1666Philip Jakob Spener becomes head of the Lutheran church at Frankfurt am Main in Germany. He begins to found "schools of piety," small prayer and study groups. In the coming century this pattern of Pietist renewal in the church will spread to many places throughout Europe.
1678In England the Puritan minister John Bunyan publishes his soon-to-be classic, Pilgrim's Progress.
1681Charles II grants William Penn a large tract of land in colonial North America, on which he will found the colony of Pennsylvania as a haven for Quakers and other religious dissenters.
1682The Four Gallican Articles are formulated at a meeting of bishops and royal officials held in France. The document will guide church and state relations between the French king and the pope for many years, but will also produce controversies when future popes refuse to affirm Louis XIV's appointments to Catholic posts in the country.
1685King Louis XIV revokes the terms of the Edict of Nantes in France, forcing French Calvinists known as Huguenots either to convert to Catholicism or leave the country.
In Germany, a new dynasty assumes power in the Palatinate, an important state in the German southwest; working in tandem over the coming years with France, it begins to re-catholicize its Protestant territory, thus prompting many Calvinists in the region to emigrate. Many take up residence in the new English colony of Pennsylvania, a haven for dissenters of all kinds.
James II, a Catholic, ascends the English throne. Over the coming years, his pro-Catholic policies will irritate Parliament, eventually resulting in his exile from the country in 1688.
1688In England, Parliament invites William of Orange and his wife Queen Mary, the daughter of the Catholic King James II, to assume the throne of England, thus accomplishing the country's Glorious Revolution, a change in dynasty that ensures Protestantism in the country without bloodshed.
1689John Locke publishes A Letter Concerning Toleration, arguing for the granting of religious tolerance to Protestant dissenters.
1690The Parliamentary Act of Toleration ensures religious tolerance for English Protestant dissenters to worship, so long as they do so in licensed meeting houses.
1692Witch trials begin in Salem in the North American colony of Massachusetts, eventually resulting in the execution of nineteen people. By this time, the witch craze has largely ceased in Europe.
1695The German Pietist August Hermann Francke founds an orphanage and school at Halle for the training of the young. The schools of the Halle Pietists will, at their high point of development, serve 2,200 students and will become a major force on the educational horizon of northern Germany.
1696In England, John Toland publishes his Christianity Not Mysterious, a work that argues that the Christian ethical revelations of the scripture can be understood through the intellect, and do not require a "leap of faith." The work will become an important manifesto for the Deist movement among intellectuals.
1701Parliament's passage of the Act of Settlement in England ensures the monarchy's future Protestant succession.
1705Philip Jacob Spener, the key thinker in the development of the German Pietist movement, dies.
1711The Tory Party in Parliament passes the "Act of Occasional Conformity" to outlaw the common practice of English dissenters occasionally taking communion in the Church of England so that they can be eligible to hold public office. These measures will be repealed eight years later.
1714The Tories in England's Parliament secure the passage of the "Schism Act," which aims to close those religious schools run by the country's dissenting churches. The Act will be repealed soon after Queen Anne's death.
1727Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf invites a remnant of the Bohemian Brethren, a Protestant group, to take up residence on his estates in Saxony. Over the coming years Zinzendorf will use his alliance with the group to found a Protestant ecumenical movement that spreads the teachings of Pietism throughout Europe.
1731Anton von Firmian, archbishop of Salzburg, signs the Expulsion Pact, ordering that his territory's more than 20,000 professing Lutherans either convert to Catholicism or emigrate. Most refuse to convert and many take up residence in the English North American colony of Georgia.
1738The Aldersgate Society is founded in London. Composed of members of the Moravian church and many English Pietists, the group will have a profound influence on the early development of Methodism in England.
The popular Calvinist revival preacher George Whitefield encourages John Wesley to begin to preach to the "unchurched" in England.
1741Count Zinzendorf arrives in colonial North America where he establishes several congregations of the Moravian church. His actions anger populations of German Lutherans.
1743In England, John Wesley publishes rules for the Methodist Societies that are steadily growing throughout the country.
1748The Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume denies the possibility of miracles in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding."
1751In France the first volume of the Encyclopédie is published. The work will assert a powerful influence on later eighteenthcentury tastes, and its arguments for the development of a rational religion will eventually help to inspire the anticlericalism of the French Revolution.
1753In Austria, Prince Kaunitz is appointed as one of the crown's chief ministers. In the forty years of his tenure, he will help to craft a number of measures designed to curb the power of the Roman church in the state.
1766The first Methodist society is founded at New York in colonial North America.
1782The Austrian King and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II begins to abolish "superfluous" monasteries in Austria.
1783Joseph II threatens to abolish the Catholic church in his state and to put a national church in its place while on a visit to Rome.
1790In France, the National Assembly passes the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, abolishing the office of bishops and venerable clerical privileges and subjecting priests and monks to taxation.
1791The remains of the French Enlightenment philosopher and deist Voltaire are moved to the Panthéon in Paris, a church once built by Louis XV to honor Saint Geneviéve, but now a monument to the great geniuses of French literature and philosophy.
1792In England, the Methodist Church now includes more than 66,000 members.
1793In France, the National Convention outlaws the worship of the Christian God.
1794In Paris, the Cult of the Supreme Being is pronounced.
1803Church property throughout much of continental Europe is secularized, that is, it is transferred to state ownership as a result of reforms promulgated by the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Important Events in Religion

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