The Peace of Westphalia – the Birth of Tolerance
Tolerance as a vitally necessary political, religious and social attitude arose in the 17th century out of the chaos of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) which raged over most of Germany and much of central and eastern Europe. It was ended by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which for the first time gave tolerance a legal basis. Tolerance is much in demand today too, in bringing peace to the world's centres of conflict such as the Middle East. So a glance back into the past can be helpful – we can draw useful lessons from it for the present.