the general European settlement at Westphalia in 1648, the Austrian Habs-burgs were also willing to put confessional allegiance aside in the interests of making the empire work, of finally coming to terms with the persistence of Protestantism.
Like it or not, from as early as the mid-seventeenth century, the Catholic Church was obliged by international law to recognize Protestant rights across Germany. Thus, after 1648, non-Catholics at Strasbourg shared the official status of members of the cathedral chapter and Catholics and non-Catholics rotated in the see of Osnabriick. The church honoured the treaty to the letter on the basis of historic concessions capable of legal demonstration, of rights and liberties resting on regional and local differences. The Westphalia provisions also encouraged a form of co-existence with Protestant polities that would later act as a model for tolerating them within Catholic states. Only four years before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, French troops occupied Strasbourg, and the great temple 'so long defiled by Lutheran rites' was reconsecrated. Even Louis XIV was careful, however, to permit Protestant congregations in the city to go on worshipping as before. Nevertheless, in the century after Westphalia, the Catholic hierarchy in Germany was tempted to encroach where it could, so that, as one scholar has put it, 'the bitter Protestant experience was that, as at more exalted levels, the tide went pretty consistently against them'.1
The Catholic hierarchy preferred to think in terms of religious reunion rather than toleration, of absorbing Protestants rather than accommodating them. In the 1680s, Bishop Rojas y Spinola pursued a vision of religious reunion within the empire that was given additional urgency by the need to contain the Turkish challenge. That vision commended itself long after the Ottomans had retreated from the plains of eastern Europe, and was reiterated by Benedict XIV in 1749. Despite (or perhaps because of) the Seven Years' War, inter-confessional relationships flourished in eighteenth-century Germany, with educated Catholics displaying an openness towards Protestants in line with Febronian precepts. Secular rulers were encouraging for a harmonious society made for loyalty and stability, and the Catholic Church went along with the trend in the interests of minimizing any reduction in its confessional privileges.
Outside Germany, the church was slow to make legal allowances for its religious rivals in the absence of any equivalent to the Westphalia stipulations. Intolerance was readily condoned in societies accustomed to considering confessional diversity as tending to political instability. The semblance of religious uniformity also suited rulers keen to show their rivals that their subjects knew that loyalty did not end with secular obligations. Louis XIV's long-premeditated
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