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From Persecution to TolerationThe Glorious Revolution and Religion in England$

Ole Peter Grell, Jonathan I. Israel, and Nicholas Tyacke

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198201960

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198201960.001.0001

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(p.409) Appendix I. Note on Medal Commemorating the Glorious Revolution and the Toleration Act

(p.409) Appendix I. Note on Medal Commemorating the Glorious Revolution and the Toleration Act

From Persecution to Toleration

Peter Barber

Oxford University Press

THE frontispiece depicts the reverse of a silver medal designed by Philipp Heinrich Müller (1653–1718), and issued at Nuremberg in 1689. Britannia is shown at the centre, crowned, bearing a sceptre and trampling the fires, chains, and yokes of superstition and tyranny. She is welcoming William, who is escorted by the Belgic lion. In Britannia's company are Liberty (right) and, behind, Religion. Liberty's right arm enfolds a cornucopia and holds the cap of freedom and her left hand bears a scroll inscribed ‘Test’. Religion carries a cross and an open Bible inscribed VERB.DEI MANET IN AETERNVM (‘The word of God stands for ever’ Isaiah 40: 8). The other inscriptions read TE SERVATORE NON SERVIMUS (roughly ‘Under your protection we are not slaves’) and beneath, in the exergue, RESTITUTORI BRITANNIAE (‘To the restorer of Britain’).

The medal was issued as a commercial speculation in gold, silver, copper, and tin, and as a draughtsman in wood, by the Prussian-born Friedrich Kleinert (1633–1714). Nuremberg, a Protestant island in Catholic southern Germany, was at the time the European centre for mass-produced medallic counters and tokens. Being easily portable, durable, and numerous, the medals would have had much the same impact on public opinion as a pamphlet. Medals from the same series were still being offered for sale as late as 1742. The iconography is strongly Protestant with its emphasis on the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, and the everlasting validity of its texts. The source for the association of (religious) Liberty with the maintenance of the Test Acts, if strange to modern eyes, may have been Whig and Williamite publications such as Elkanah Settle's The Character of a Popish Successor (1681) or the Letter writ by Mijn Heer Fagel … to Mr James Stuart (1688) which had been widely circulated in translation throughout western Europe. These argued that private Catholic worship might safely be connived at by a benevolent Protestant prince. The ultimate (p.410) and inevitable loyalty of any pious individual Catholic to Rome and the Catholic absolutism and persecution associated with it, however, made it imperative to exclude even the most well-meaning Catholic from office in Protestant states for the sake of national concord, liberty, and prosperity (note Liberty's cornucopia). The Test Acts, by excluding Catholics from public office, thus safeguarded lasting religious toleration, particularly for Protestant sects but also, implicitly, for Catholics.1


(1) E. Hawkins, A. W. Franks, H. A. Grueber, Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland to the Death of George II (London, 1885), i. 683, no. 64; L. Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists (London, 1904–30): entries under Philipp Heinrich Müller, Friedrich Kleinert, and Lazarus Gottlieb Lauffer; M. Mitchiner, Jetons, Medalets & Tokens: The Medieval Period and Nuremberg, i (London, 1988), particularly pp. 499, 503.