I learned today from a History Today article that the first legislation of religious freedom, pluralism and prevalence of the state power over religious autorities was given by king John II Sigismund of Transylvania in the city of Turda in 1588.

king John II Sigismund

His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he – together with his realm – legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearings is by the word of God.

coat of arms of Turda

At that time Transylvania was under Turkish suzerainty. The edict covered the various West European Christian faith – Catholicism, Reform, and the Unitarian church to which the king belonged. Orthodox Christians to which most of the Romanians belonged and Jewish faith were just tolerated. Yet, it was the first legislative act of pluralism at the end of a century marked by the Reform, Counter-Reform and the bloody religious conflicts.