Early modern German states and the settlement of Jews: Brandenburg—Prussia and the Palatinate, sixteenth to nineteenth centuries

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For centuries, people of differing religious identities have caused problems within societies, in particular when states attempted to establish religious conformity. The migration of religious groups, whether forced or volun? tary, was understood as a means of escaping orthodoxy and of maintaining cultural diversity. In the early modern period, religious migrants brought their cultural diversity into the countries of refuge. From the perspective of today, these new destinations had to succeed in what the homeland had failed; they had to integrate these newly arriving diverse people while simultaneously enabling them to assimilate, if possible, to the normative systems of the host societies.

The experience of the Sephardim, the Ashkenazim and French Calvinists in early modern Europe seems to indicate that the integration and assimilation of diasporic groups to the host societies were by no means the norm and neither expected nor required by the majority of the host societies or by the diasporic group itself. Furthermore, looking at different religious minorities in both one country and a comparative European perspective, the 'confessionalization' pattern that used to be popular among German and other historians such as Wolfgang Reinhard and Heinz Schilling fails to explain many early modern European governments' atti? tudes towards religious minorities. Bernard Cottret has also emphasized for the early modern period that: 'For the man of the seventeenth century, the situation was altogether different. Wherever he turned his gaze, the religion of the subjects was that of the State, and the religion of the State that of the King. Special dispensations from this principle, cujus regio, ejus religio, were practically unknown.'1 Certainly, it would be wrong to deny many

1 W. Reinhard, 'Gegenreformation als Modernisierung? Prolegomena zu einer Theorie des konfessionellen Zeitalters', Archiv f?r Reformationsgeschichte XLVIII (1977) 226-52; H. Schilling, 'Confessional Europe', in T. A. Brady, H. A. Oberman and J. D. Tracy (eds)

European governments' attempts to establish religious orthodoxy, and as its consequence religious and political unity. However, in many cases, such as late seventeenth-century France, some Protestant German states, Britain and Ireland, the government's negative attitude towards one denomination could coexist with favouring another, rival, non-orthodox denomination.

Not only the confessionalization pattern, but the integration and assimi? lation pattern fails to explain fully the role and function of distinct religious groups in this period. While Catholic and Protestant denominations still fought each other in many European countries, some states such as East Frisia by the sixteenth century favoured 'confessional indifference': in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 'people in this part of Germany had multiple religious options, including the option to behave indifferently towards official religion. The public presence of dissident groups, espe? cially the Anabaptists, left a great deal of space in East Frisia for individuals to make a range of religious choices.'2 This means that some European countries' attitudes towards heterodoxy and the coexistence of different denominations, such as those of the Netherlands, Frisia or Brandenburg Prussia, have been identified with the notion of'tolerance', with 'tolerance' defining the practical rationale of permitting uncommon social practice and diversity.

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