Dissidents (Dissidentes), a term specially applied to those non-Romanists in Poland who were allowed the free exercise of their respective modes of worship. The privilege was accorded to Lutherans, Calvinists, Arminians, and Greeks, but not to Anabaptists, Socinians, and Quakers. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, a large part of the people, and perhaps half of the nobility, were Protestants. "The Convention of Sandomir, concluded in 1570, united the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Bohemian Brethren into one Church a union which had also a political tendency, and whose members obtained the same rights with the Catholics by the religious peace (pax dissidentium) sworn by the king in 1573. But the great mistake in not settling the mutual relations of the two religious parties gave rise to bloody contests. Although the rights of the dissidents were afterwards repeatedly confirmed, they were gradually repealed, particularly in 1717 and 1718, in the reign of Augustus II, when dissidents were deprived of the right of voting in the Diet. They lost still more some years afterwards (1733) under Augustus III; and in the Diet of Pacification, as it was called, in 1736, an old statute, requiring every Polish king to be of the Catholic Church, was revived. After the succession of the last king, Stanislaus Poniatowski, the dissidents brought their grievances before the Diet held in 1766, and were supported in their claims by Russia, Denmark, Prussia, and England. Russia, in particular, profited by the occasion to extend her influence in the affairs of Poland, supported them strongly by her mediation, in bringing about a new Convention in 1767, by which they were again placed on an equal footing with the Catholics. The Diet of 1768 repealed the decrees which had been formerly passed against them. The war against the confederates breaking out, however, and the kingdom being dismembered, nothing was accomplished until the year 1775, when the dissidents regained all their privileges, excepting the right of being elected senators or ministers of state" (Henderson's Buck, Theol. Dictionary, s.v.). SEE POLAND. The name Dissidents (German Dissidenten) is also sometimes used as the collective name for all adherents of religious denominations which have no legal existence in any particular state. SEE TOLERATION.

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