The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes

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On October 18, 1685, King Louis XIV of France signed into law the Edict of Fontainebleau. Its purpose was to revoke the Edict of Nantes, issued in 1598 by his grandfather Henry IV to end the French Wars of Religion. Referred to by historians as “the Revocation,” the Edict of Fontainebleau ended an unusual experiment in religious coexistence: whereas most early modern states allowed only a single form of worship, the Edict of Nantes had permitted France’s Protestant minority—known as Huguenots—to worship publicly alongside the Catholic majority. The Edict of Fontainebleau outlawed Protestant worship, while, in principle, allowing French Protestants freedom of conscience. But it followed upon a campaign of forced conversions, the dragonnades, in which soldiers were billeted in Huguenot households. The edict outlawed Huguenot churches and schools, and it ordered newborns to be baptized as Catholics. The edict also forbade Huguenots to leave France, with the exception of pastors. The aim of this entry is to explain why the Revocation took place, arguing that besides political factors, painful memories about the French Wars of Religion played a major role in the breakdown of religious coexistence. The entry reviews the Revocation’s historiography and describes what historians have identified as its long-term and more immediate causes. The entry concludes with an assessment of Louis’ efforts to root out Protestantism in his kingdom. It considers the situation of the 150,000 Huguenots who did flee France, one of the largest refugee movements of the early modern period. The entry discusses the opposition to Louis XIV in France in the form of ongoing clandestine worship and the Camisard revolt. The Revocation also led to an anti-French alliance of mostly Protestant powers, which resulted in the Nine Years’ War.
Originele taal-2English
TitelRenaissance World
RedacteurenKristen Poole
StatusPublished - 31-okt.-2022


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