On This Day
1568 – The Edict of Torda prohibited the persecution of individuals on religious ground in John Sigismund Zápolya’s Eastern Hungarian Kingdom.
The Edict of Torda (Hungarian: tordai ediktum) was a decree that authorized local communities to freely elect their preachers in the “eastern Hungarian Kingdom” of John Sigismund Zápolya. The delegates of the Three Nations of Transylvania – the Hungarian nobles, Transylvanian Saxons, and Székelys – adopted it at the request of the monarch’s Antitrinitarian court preacher, Ferenc Dávid, in Torda (now Turda in Romania) on 28 January 1568. Though it did not acknowledge an individual’s right to religious freedom, in sanctioning the existence of a radical Christian religion in a European state, the decree was an unprecedented act of religious tolerance.
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches had already coexisted in the southern and eastern territories of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary for centuries. However, ideas that the Catholic Church regarded as heresy were not tolerated: the Hungarian Hussites were expelled from the country in the 1430s and the Diet of Hungary passed a decree that ordered the persecution of the Lutherans in 1523. The latter decree was in practice ignored during the civil war that followed the Ottoman victory against the Hungarian army in the Battle of Mohács in 1526. After the Ottomans occupied the central regions of the medieval kingdom in 1541, they allowed the infant John Sigismund to rule the lands to the east of the river Tisza under the regency of his mother, Isabella Jagiellon. In the early 1540s the Diets acknowledged the right of the Three Nations to freely regulate their internal affairs. The Saxons regarded religion as an internal affair and ordered the introduction of Lutheran Reformation in their settlements in 1544–1545. The Diet sanctioned the coexistence of the Catholic and Lutheran denominations only in 1557.
John Sigismund started to rule personally after his mother died in 1559. He was interested in religious affairs and organized a series of debates between the representatives of the different Protestant theologies. He converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism in 1562, and from Lutheranism to Calvinism in 1564. His court physician, Giorgio Biandrata, and Ferenc Dávid jointly persuaded him to also allow the public discussion of the dogma of Trinity. He accepted Dávid and Biandrata’s Antitrinitarian views in 1567. The Edict of Torda was adopted at the following Diet. It stated that “faith is a gift of God” and prohibited the persecution of individuals on religious grounds. In practice, the edict only sanctioned the existence of four “received” denominations – the Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Unitarian Churches. Further religious innovations were prohibited during the reign of John Sigismund’s successor, Stephen Báthory, but religious tolerance remained a distinguishing feature of the Principality of Transylvania (the successor state of John Sigismund’s realm) in Early Modern Europe.
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Born On This Day
1903 – Kathleen Lonsdale, Irish crystallographer and 1st female FRS (d. 1971)
Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, DBE, FRS (née Yardley; 28 January 1903 – 1 April 1971) was an Irish pacifist, prison reformer and crystallographer. She proved, in 1929, that the benzene ring is flat by using X-ray diffraction methods to elucidate the structure of hexamethylbenzene. She was the first to use Fourier spectral methods while solving the structure of hexachlorobenzene in 1931. During her career she attained several firsts for female scientists, including being one of the first two women elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1945 (along with Marjory Stephenson), first woman tenured professor at University College London, first woman president of the International Union of Crystallography, and first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
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