In the early Middle Ages, Christianity was propa gated by missionaries from England. One of the first was Willibrord, who preached among the Frisians. His most famous comissionary was Bonifatius, born about 672 in Wessex and later archbishop of Mainz, Germany. Bonifatius was murdered during one of his missionary campaigns near Dokkum, Frisia, in 754. Utrecht became the administrative center of the church, from where the spiritual and secular affairs were managed in the (future) Low Countries. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic church played a dominant role in education and the transmission of culture. Many learned clergymenbecame advisors to counts and dukes in Brabant, Flanders, Holland, and elsewhere. Every village and town had its church building. Several Roman and Gothic cathedrals were built, for instance, in Utrecht and ’s Hertogenbosch. An important aspect of medieval religiouslife was the many monastic orders, some of which concentrated their monasteries in cities, such as the mendicant or ders of the Franciscans and Dominicans. The Reformation divided Christianity once again. Martin Luther and John Calvin had many followers among the Catholic population of the Low Countries. Smaller groups were the Anabaptists and the Remonstrants. The Protestant dissenters, the Roman Catholics, and the Jewswere tolerated during the period of the Dutch Republic until 1796, when the separation between state and church was prom ulgated. New Protestant sects developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. Pluriformity is a characteristic of Dutch religious life. Since the process of secularization during the 20th century and the immigra tion of foreign people, other religions such as Islam and Hinduism have also been represented. About 40 percent of the inhabitants are at present not affiliated with any religious community.
   See also ARMINIUS, Jacobus Harmensz (1560–1609); Calvinism; Friends, society of; Lutherans.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.


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