Synod on the Freedom of Conscience: A Thorough Examination during the Gathering Held in the Year 1582 in the City of Freetown


History and Philosophy

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This volume presents the first English-language translation of Synod on the Freedom of Conscience (1582), a book-length plea for religious freedom by Dutch humanist Dirck Vockertszoon Coornhert (1522–90). Coornhert’s central concern in his writings and exchanges with ministers of the Reformed Church was the safeguarding of freedom of conscience—the chief cause, he believed, for the struggle against Hapsburg Spain. The imaginary synod at the center of this text, held in “Freetown,” becomes a space of exchange for Catholic and Protestant leaders and theologians, whose spirited debates are concluded with remarks by Coornhert’s alter ego, the irenic Gamaliel, who shows that both parties sin equally on the side of intolerance.


Translated, Edited, and Annotated by Gerrit Voogt