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Discourses of Tolerance and Intolerance at the Four Years' Sejm (1788-1792)

Butterwick, Richard; (2021) Discourses of Tolerance and Intolerance at the Four Years' Sejm (1788-1792). In: Chwalba, Andrzej and Zamorski, Krzysztof, (eds.) The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. History - Memory - Legacy. (pp. 256-272). Routledge: New York, NY, USA. Green open access

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The reforms passed by the Polish Revolution, or Great Sejm (parliament) of 1788–1792, are sometimes viewed as the culmination of the delayed confessionalization of the Commonwealth, but on the other hand as an important stage in the process of its deconfessionalization. The content of the first article of the Constitution of 3 May 1791, “The dominant Religion,” is well known. This includes its provisions regarding the rights of the heterodox to free worship, but also regarding the maintenance of the prohibition on conversion from Catholicism to other confessions. The problem of the drafting and editing of this text was researched by Emanuel Rostworowski. However, the Four Years’ Sejm dealt with confessional questions in various contexts, not only the new Constitution. Such problems were raised, for example, during the panic about “rebellions” in Ruthenia in the spring of 1789, in the question of establishing a domestic Orthodox hierarchy in May 1792, in the course of debates on the urban reform in April 1791, and during discussions of the Cardinal Laws in August and September 1790. They were also connected with the question of the status of Jews. Discussions in the parliamentary forum were accompanied by polemics among pamphleteers. The clashes over the exact rights and privileges belonging to the heterodox yield both characteristic discursive forms and different concepts of tolerance or toleration, based on different axioms. Sometimes historical arguments were used to justify particular solutions. The aim of the paper is to sketch the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable discourse on religious tolerance and intolerance during the Great Sejm and to indicate changes in attitudes that took place at this time.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Discourses of Tolerance and Intolerance at the Four Years' Sejm (1788-1792)
ISBN-13: 9780367424978
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.432...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147214
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