Defending himself against criticisms that he was making war on his fellow co-religionists, Colonel Jean-Baptiste Stouppe, the Reformed Swiss commander of Louis XIV's troops in Utrecht during the occupation of 1672–3, retorted that the Dutch were not at all Reformed. ‘It is well known … that in addition to the Reformed’, Stouppe wrote in his tract On the Religion of the Hollanders (1673), ‘there are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Brownists, Independents, Arminians, Anabaptists, Socinians, Arians, Enthusiasts, Quakers, Borelists, Muscovites, Libertines, and many more … I am not even speaking of the Jews, Turks, and Persians … I must also report on an enlightened and learned man, who has a great following … His name is Spinoza. He was born a Jew and had not swore off allegiance to the Jewish religion, nor has he accepted Christianity. He is a wicked and very bad Jew, and not a better Christian either.’
His criticisms aside, the Netherlands were indeed a Calvinist country, albeit tolerant of numerous religious communities, a fact celebrated in our visions of a Dutch Golden Age but much decried by contemporaries, even by those who enjoyed toleration. Consider the case of the Anabaptists, the most persecuted religious community during the early decades of the Reformation. In his 1633 preface to the Martelaers Spiegel Hans de Ries (1553–1638) lamented the languor of his fellow Mennonites.
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