This concluding chapter reflects on the historical foundation on which the modern discourse of liberty and toleration is based. It looks back to “the long sixteenth century,” the period between 1500 and approximately 1650—specifically between the time of Niccolò Machiavelli and John Milton—during which the principal concepts and themes concerning liberty in the modern world began to emerge against a background of unprecedented violence and oppression. At this time a series of dramatic crises that altered the map of European society and culture, bringing about changes so radical and lasting that all the values that had guided the previous centuries had to be recast in entirely different and unfamiliar molds.
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