Christian Humanism, Erasmus’ exaltation of free will and the criticism of tradition. The theology of the Reformation: justification by faith alone, predestination, and the social implications of the new Eucharistic doctrines. Political ideas of the Reformers: from passive obedience to open insurrection against vested authority. The theology of the Counter-Reformation: justification by merit, free will and the need of an ecclesiastical interposition between man and God. The birth of dissent: diversity and conflict in the 16th and 17th centuries. The new tools of opinion control: the Spanish Inquisition, the Roman Inquisition and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. “Unconscious heresies” and the historiographical concept of «social disciplination». The problem of religious liberty (Peace of Augusta; Edict of Nantes; Edict of Potsdam; Act of Toleration). From toleration to freedom of conscience: the eclipse of the old confessional State and the rise of modern religious pluralism.