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Political Testament of Frederick William ("the Great Elector") (May 19, 1667)

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Of the different religions, in your lands there are three: the Reformed, the Lutheran, and the Roman Catholic. In Brandenburg, [East] Prussia, Magdeburg, Pomerania, Halberstadt, Minden, the County of Mark and Ravensberg, most are Lutheran, and the fewest are Reformed, and praise God that Brandenburg and Pomerania are entirely free of outrageous papist abominations and idolatry, except for the ceremonies that the Lutherans have retained from the papistry in their churches. If handled well, they could be abolished, and you should reasonably strive to do so. You should also take care that the Roman Catholics do not secretly sneak in again, above all because there are none in Brandenburg and Pomerania, and for the few who live in the countryside the [religious] practice is not to be allowed, either publicly or secretly, just as it has not been allowed here in the aforementioned territories since the Reformation, except when imperial or royal ambassadors were in Berlin. I hope that the Almighty will let it be so until the Last Day, so that our descendants will never see such idolatry and abomination. In [East] Prussia the Roman Catholics may publicly practice, also in churches and chapels, and one must allow them that, but one is not to allow them more than what the pact grants them. In the lands that are given as equivalents of Pomerania, there are many Roman Catholics, and they have their public practice; however, they are not allowed more than what they were entitled to and practiced in the year 1624, and one must protect them insofar, but in no case are they to be allowed more. Now, regarding the Roman Catholics in Cleves and the associated territories, the reversionary contracts that were given to the estates by Electors Johann Sigismund and Georg Wilhelm were also confirmed by me. You are to hold such reversionary contracts in the highest esteem, because in the same the estates recognized and accepted my relatives and me as their hereditary lords. Therefore, the estates are to be protected from everything, and the same reversionary contracts are to be in no way violated, and it would be better for your education if you read the words regarding the Roman Catholics in the same, or have them read to you. It is based on this that their religion is allowed in the associated territories, and there is no closing of the eyes [keine conivens], but rather a granting of free toleration of their superstitious faith. [ . . . ]

At the universities in your lands you must order and must provide all things so that prominent scholarly people are accepted and appointed as professors. [ . . . ]

However, you should see to it that the professors are diligent in their functions and that they loyally instruct the youth and keep them from trouble.

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