One of the unique legacies of Romanian history – specifically from the Transylvanian region – is a long history of religious toleration. Its origins trace back to the Edict of Turda (Romanian) or Torda (Hungarian) issued by King Sigismund in 1568, “a document which historians have proclaimed to the first European policy of expansive religious toleration.” This led to the growth of the Unitarian Church, to Lutheran and Calvinist sectarianism alongside traditional Orthodox and Catholic churches. In the early sixteen-hundreds it is said that William Penn faced a choice of seeking religious freedom in Transylvania or the New World colonies. Chosing the latter he named Pennsylvania in memory of that choice (‘silva’ meaning ‘forest’ in latin and ‘transylvania’ meaning ‘beyond the forest’).
For a lengthier commentary on this era read: The Pasha of Buda and the Edict of Torda: Transylvanian Unitarian/Islamic Ottoman Cultural Enmeshment
and the Development of Religious Tolerance by Rev. Susan Ritchie, PhD
Winner of the “best new scholarship in Unitarian Universalism” award by Collegium, the Association of Liberal Religious Scholars in 2003