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Protestant minorities in European states and nations

ABSTRACT: Europe’s traditional ethnic minorities and the conflicts over their place in the state and nation are the focus of continuing comparative research. In contrast, little attention is paid to Europe’s older religious conflicts, in particular those that stem from the reformation. Yet for long religiously informed conflict was the principal source of internal state division and the major perceived threat to state stability and security.  This paper looks at the institutional changes and cultural renegotiations which allowed traditional religious oppositions, rivalries and conflicts to fade in most contemporary European societies. It concludes that neither modernisation, democratisation nor secularisation were enough to resolve deep-set tensions. The long-term resolutions involved a restructuring of polity and nation in a way consistent with minority, as well as majority culture. In the past – as perhaps also in the present - such opportunities were rare and demanded choice, strategy and political fortune.

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