This is a study of the historical, social, ethnic and governmental preconditions for the widespread ethnic and religious toleration that characterized Eastern Europe until modern times. The countries studied are Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and certain parts of the Russian and Ottoman Empires. The groups studied are Armenians, Jews, Roma (Gypsies), Protestants and Radical sects in Lithuania, Tatars (in Lithuania), various Christian religions (in Ottoman region).
Very little previous research has focused on a comparison of the major tolerated groups, but rather the emphasis has been on individual groups in single countries. This study is comparative and has focused on three phases: the build up of multi-cultural pluralistic states in the middle ages, the confrontation of the principles of tolerance with the principles of nationalism, the rise of ethnic and religious hatred in modern times.