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Reviewed by:
  • Toleration in Enlightenment Europe
  • Jacques M. Gres-Gayer
Toleration in Enlightenment Europe. Edited by Ole Peter Grell and Roy Porter. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. ix, 270. $59.95.)

This volume collects the papers delivered at a conference held in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1997, which was the culmination of a series of academic symposia dealing with the issue of religious toleration in England (1991) and the European Reformation (1996). In the eighteenth century, obviously, the notion evolved from a limited practice, religious tolerance, to a concept, toleration. This is the common theme of the different contributions, introduced by a synthetic presentation by the editors. Some of the papers have a more abstract perspective: M. Fitzpatrick, "Toleration and the Enlightenment Movement"; R. Wokler, "Multiculturalism and Ethnic Cleansing in the Enlightenment"; S. Tomaselli, "Intolerance, the Virtue of Princes and Radicals"; J. Israel, "Spinoza, Locke and the Enlightenment Battle for Toleration." They aptly present the theoretical basis for a form of acceptance of religious diversity. The level of discussion is, as expected, rather high and stimulating, Fitzpatrick's learned essay on the passage from toleration to religious Liberty being particularly [End Page 326] illuminating in showing the limits—for lack of experience—of the Philosophes' concept of freedom of conscience.

The other contributions are geographical: E. van der Wall, "Toleration and Enlightenment in the Dutch Republic"; J. Champion, "Toleration and Citizenship in Enlightenment England: John Toland and the Naturalization of the Jews"; M. Linton, "Citizenship and Religious Toleration in France"; J. Whaley, "Religious Toleration in the Holy Roman Empire"; K. Vocelka, "Enlightenment in the Habsburg Monarchy"; M. Miller, "Toleration in Eastern Europe: the Dissident Question of Eighteenth-Century Poland-Lithuania." Each one, well researched and carefully presented, has its own value. Being more familiar with the topic and literature, I was not particularly convinced by the paper on France. The Jansenists' contribution to the debate on religious toleration is not well understood, despite reference to the most serious studies. The last papers, N. Davidson, "Toleration in Enlightenment Italy," and H. Kamen's "Inquisition, Tolerance and Liberty in Eighteenth Century Spain," are valuable for the authors' effort to find and develop what was conspicuously absent in Southern European Catholicism. Davidson, however, finds in Italy a desire for intellectual freedom as a reaction to the fruitless action of the Inquisition. Representatives of the Catholic Enlightenment, including Pope Benedict XIV and some of his cardinals, seem to have favored a more open discussion and exchange of ideas.

In sum, a valuable conference, certainly well-prepared and well-presented that deserved publication. It will be a reliable reference on the issues.

Jacques M. Gres-Gayer
The Catholic University of America


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