For many centuries what a person believed was not a private matter: religion shaped society much more strongly than it does today. Faith became a duty for a ruler’s subjects and it was subject to the control of both state and church authorities.
In the eyes of the Habsburgs Catholicism was the only ‘true faith’. Dissidents or those who had other beliefs were persecuted or marginalized. The Enlightenment introduced the concept of religioius tolerance, but in the world of the Habsburgs the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church was never called into question.