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SUN Yanfei | Empires and Tolerance on Religions

Release Date: 2017/8/1 15:59:43

 

SUN Yanfei | Empires and Tolerance on Religions

 

It was not until the Enlightenment that religious freedom became the natural right in the West. And non-dominant religions were not all treated tolerantly in Pre-modern empires.

 

On the morning of July 31, Sun Yanfei from Zhejiang University, presented her on-going research on differences between pre-modern empires’ policies towards non-dominant religions.

 

SUN Yanfei | Empires and Tolerance on Religions

 

Professor Sun first defined the ‘Pre-modern empires’, which are political entities formed mostly through conquest, and sometimes through succession or marriage from the Axial Age(8BC-3BC)to Peace of Westphalia (1648). She chose more than a dozen pre-modern empires such as the Achaemenid Empire, Carolingian Empire, Holy Roman Empire as the subject of her research and demonstrated maps of their territory. According to Sun, the degree of tolerance or intolerance of an empire towards non-dominant religion can be measured in four aspects. Namely, the type of religions allowed or suppressed by the empire, the degree of discrimination against the permitted religion, the degree of repression of the non-permitted religion, and whether there was forced recantation. She grouped the empires into six echelons with Mongolian Empire, Achaemenid Empire and Parthian empire being the most tolerant, and Safavid Empire and Spanish Empire as the least tolerant. Though pre-modern empires were faced with the dilemma between weak penetration ability and vast territory, multi-ethnic groups, and should have the religious-tolerant tendency, in reality, different empires’ tolerance on religions were determined by factors like the nature of the state religion, the integration of church and state, and the empires’ controlling power. Professor SUN concluded by pointing out that ideology is the decisive factor of an empire’s religious tolerance degree, and tolerance on religions usually came from humbleness in power.

 

SUN Yanfei | Empires and Tolerance on Religions

SUN Yanfei | Empires and Tolerance on Religions

 

 

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