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The Catholic Triumph – The Edict of Restitution (March 6, 1629)

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It is no less well known that, against the express letter of the Religious Peace in § 25, some Protestant estates have thought not only to retain their bishoprics, prelacies, and prebends after they rejected the Catholic religion, but also to acquire others (uncovered by the Religious Peace). They do this under the pretext that this paragraph, whose obvious meaning they controvert, is not part of the Religious Peace, because they never consented to it but on the contrary, often protested against it. For this reason, We have caused Ourselves to be diligently informed out of the Imperial archives about the actual statements of the paragraph that is called the “Ecclesiastical Reservation” (although the letter of the Religious Peace is sufficient for Us). Concerning the aforesaid contradiction and rejection by the Protestants, we find from this action that where the Religious Peace’s contents have a sense contrary to theirs, it was made, decided, and completed with the advice and good will of all electors and estates of both religious parties. All estates approved its words bound by oath. And they promised to keep it inviolate in each and every point, clause, and article, and to do nothing at all against it. In Our election and coronation capitulation (3), We and Our ancestors are bound without exception or reservation to the Religious Peace and its concept and contents. The Holy Empire’s electors would not have bound Us in this way, had the Religious Peace contained anything to the upholding of which We were not obliged.

[There follow further arguments for the Ecclesiastical Reservation as valid Imperil law. The Edict turns to the issue of the religious liberty of subjects and reinforces the principle of “whose the rule, his the religion” (4) especially for Catholic territories. The point had been debated in 1555, but the Catholics had opposed the subjects’ right to change religion with the following argument.]

This would lead to obvious rebellion, disobedience, and indignation. And since the other estates do not prescribe how they should deal with their own subjects, it would be unfair that they should prescribe law and order for the Catholic estates. The latter intend to nourish their souls, just as the others do, and thus cannot tolerate that their subjects should be give space and liberty to adhere to a religion different from that of the estates.

[In response to the Protestants’ argument for freedom of conscience, it is pointed out that the Religious Peace guarantees (§ 24) the right of emigration and general security (§ 23). For the Imperial nobility and the Imperial cities clear regulations were framed. The Peace in no way accords to subjects freedom of religion. Had it done so, they would hardly have had to petition for the vacation of the Religion Peace via a special decree and declaration. The validity of such a declaration is denied, as are other arguments for deriving a right to convert from the Peace’s text.]

(3) The capitulation was a document an emperor signed at his election, in which he swore to respect the Imperial estates’ rights – trans.
(4) “Cuius regio, eius religio.” Though often assumed to be taken from the Religious Peace, this Latin tag was in fact invented in 1612 by the Greifswald jurist Joachim Stephani (1544-1623) – trans.

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