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The Bohemian Religious Peace (July 1609)

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Further, should any member of the Utraquist Estates of the Kingdom wish, now or in the future, to build further places of worship or churches in any town, market center, village, or elsewhere, in addition to the churches and places of worship which they now possess and which have been recognized as theirs (in the undisturbed possession of which they are to be left and protected), both the Lords' and Knights' Estates and also the City of Prague and the mining towns and other Royal Boroughs shall all, jointly and severally, be allowed to do this freely and openly, at any time and in any way, without hindrance from any quarter. And because many of Our Royal Boroughs, and also those belonging to Her Majesty the Empress as Queen of Bohemia, contain adherents of both parties, Catholics and Utraquists, We do will and particularly enjoin that, for the preservation of amity and concord, each party shall practice its religion freely and without restriction, subject to the governance and direction of its own clergy. Nor shall either party shall impose any rules on the other in respect of its religion or usages, nor prevent the practice of its religion, interment of bodies in churches or graveyards, or tolling of bells.

As from today, no person, neither of the higher free Estates nor the inhabitants of unfree towns and villages, nor the peasants, shall be forced or compelled by any device by the authorities over them or by any person, spiritual or temporal, to forsake his religion and accept another religion (9).

Since all these dispositions set out above have been honestly intended and enacted by Us for the maintenance of amity and concord, We therefore promise and swear on Our Royal word that all these three Estates of Our Kingdom of Bohemia who profess the Bohemian Confession and their issue, both now and in future, shall evermore be left and protected by Us, Our heirs, and future Kings of Bohemia, in complete and undisturbed enjoyment of all the rights set out above. Thereby We do entirely comprehend and confirm them in the Religious Peace of the Holy Empire, whose supreme member We are (10), and they shall in no wise be infringed, now or ever in the future, either by Us, Our heirs and future Kings of Bohemia, or by any other person of estate spiritual or temporal. Furthermore, no enactment against the said Religious Peace or against the firm assurance given by Us to the Utraquist Estates, and no edict or any similar measure which might impose on them the slightest obstacle or any change in their position, shall be issued to them either by Us, Our heirs and successors as Kings of Bohemia, or by any other person, nor accepted by them. Should, however, anything of the sort occur or be undertaken by any person whatsoever, it shall be invalid, and no judicial sentence or edict on this point shall be of any effect. We therefore revoke entirely, and declare to be null and void, all earlier edicts and mandates issued from any source against the said Utraquist party and adherents of the said Bohemian Confession, in such wise that nothing in this article, nothing requested by the Estates from Us, now or in the past, and confirmed to them by Us, and nothing that has occurred since, shall be reckoned against them, the united three Estates of this Kingdom, collectively or as individuals, to their disadvantage or ill repute or as cause for any complaint, nor in any way remembered against them by Us or by future Kings of Bohemia, nor shall it be altered, now or evermore.

We therefore command the supreme functionaries, judges and Our councilors, also all Estates, the present and future inhabitants of this Kingdom, Our loyal and beloved subjects, that they shall support and protect the Lords, Knights, Burghers of Prague and of the mining and other towns, yea, all three Estates of this Kingdom; with all their subjects and in general, all persons of the party belonging to the said Bohemian and Utraquist Confession, as assured by Us in this Imperial Patent, all its articles and its tenor. These officials shall in no wise molest such persons nor allow others to do so, under pain of Our wrath and displeasure. And should any person whosoever, whether of spiritual or temporal estate, venture to infringe this Patent, We regard Ourselves bound, together with Our heirs and successors to the throne of Bohemia, and the Estates of this Kingdom, to regard any such person to be an offender against the general weal and disturber of the peace, and to protect and defend the Estates against him, as laid down and provided by the Constitution in the article on the defense of the land, order and law.

Finally, We command the higher and lower officials of the chancery of Our Kingdom of Bohemia that, for future remembrance, they shall insert and enter this Our Imperial Patent in the records of the Diet at the session at which all three Estates of the Kingdom are now to meet and thereafter bring the original to Karlstein (11), to be deposited with the other Liberties or Privileges of the Kingdom. In faith whereof We have ordered Our Imperial Seal to be affixed to this Imperial Patent. Given at Our Castle in Prague on the Thursday after Procopius in the year 1609, the thirty-fourth year of Our Imperial, the thirty-seventh of Our Hungarian and the thirty-fourth of Our Bohemian, reign.



(9) This provision rejects that of the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1555 that urban and territorial rulers, who were members of the Diet, could require their subjects to conform or emigrate.
(10) This passage is conveniently silent about the contradiction between the two peaces, namely, that whereas in the Religious Peace of 1555 religious liberty depends on the rulers, in the Bohemian Edict it is confirmed in every person.
(11) The fortress founded by Charles IV, twenty miles southwest of Prague, where he kept the regalia and the archives.

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