Memory, Toleration, and Conflict after the French Wars of Religion

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This chapter explores memory as a key concept in the study of toleration. As confessional conflict engulfed Europe in the wake of the Reformation, stories of persecution, suffering, and loss became the hallmark of distinct confessional identities. Yet remembering these events could also undermine religious toleration, especially in bi-confessional communities where former enemies were living side by side after the religious wars had ended. This chapter focuses on the relationship between memory and toleration in the aftermath of the French Wars of Religion. The 1598 Edict of Nantes famously ended the conflict by allowing religious toleration between Catholics and Protestants, but it also ordered both sides to forget the past. Yet in practice Catholics and Protestants continued to revisit the troubles, viewing themselves as victims of past injustices for which the other was assigned the blame. Drawing on material from La Rochelle, this chapter demonstrates that painful wartime memories – in particular relating to massacres and material loss – fuelled religious strife long after the wars had ended. As such, it highlights the potential of memory studies for understanding the practice of toleration, in particular for tracing long-term successes and failures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Modern Toleration
Subtitle of host publicationNew Approaches
EditorsBenjamin Kaplan, Jaap Geeraerts
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003030522
ISBN (Print)9780367467074, 9780367467081
Publication statusPublished - 31-Aug-2023

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