On a [narrow] reckoning, we might confine the Time-span of the “Golden Age” of eighteenth-century moderation between the dates A.D. 1732 and A.D. 1755, if the eviction of a Protestant minority from the Catholic ecclesiastical principality of Salzburg in A.D. 1731-2 is to be taken as the last positive act of religious persecution in Western Europe, and the eviction of a French population from Acadia in A.D. 1755 as the first positive act of persecution for Nationality’s sake in North America.
Only incidentally in North America, of course. He is defining the gap between an age of religious persecution (as distinct from discrimination and prejudice) and one of persecution for reasons of nationality, between one series of horrors and another, in the narrowest possible way. Handel’s Messiah was composed about half way through this brief “Golden Age”.
Accepting that the distinction will often be hard to draw and that the motivations were similar, is the Acadian eviction really the first modern “secular” example based on nationality alone? In order for this to make sense, shouldn’t we exclude mere acts of war and post-war reprisals and acts to suppress or prevent insurrections, and if we do, is the Acadian example the right one to give? I suppose Toynbee would say that it went beyond an act in the course of a war and beyond a reprisal and was an act of persecution.
That distinction is always being made in arguments about the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. The majority view (deriving in part from Toynbee) is that they were an act of persecution, amounting to nothing less than a genocide. The Turks say that they were atrocities committed in the course of a war.
A Study of History, Vol VI, OUP, 1939