"One of the myths of the English-speaking world is that there was an internal connection between Protestantism and freedom. Martin Luther supposedly instituted an age of individual freedom of expression when he challenged the monolithic authority of Pope and Church. In fact, the vast majority of Protestant Reformers were just as intolerant as their Roman Catholic counterparts. There was no more tolerance of heterodox views in Calvin's Geneva or Cotton's Massachusetts than in Spain under the Inquisition.
In Hispanic countries, in contrast, Catholicism is often seen as the seed bed of democratic ideas. Thomist notions (that is to say, notions derived from the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, 1225-74) of natural law were inherently hostile to arbitrary or despotic government. During the Religious Wars in France, Roman Catholic Leaguers wrote tracts in support of resistance to tyrannical rulers, and developed theories of original popular sovereignty.
In much of Central and Eastern Europe, the Counter-Reformation Church allied with secular authorities to reconvert the population to Catholicism and so (particularly from the later 17th century) Catholicism and Absolutism became seen as natural allies - embodied in the person of the Catholic absolutist Louis XIV of France. But this link was far from clear in Western Europe in the age of Shakespeare."