An idolatrous submission to the king
After the peace treaty of Alès (1629), the Protestants lost their political party : they were dependent on the king’s good will without any other assurance besides his word that he would respect the Edict of Nantes.
However, unlike in the early years of Louis XIII’s reign (1610), most trusted the king due to Luther’s doctrine, according to which power is directly transmitted from God to the Prince. They acknowledged the divine right of the monarch.
During Louis XIV’s reign, the Reformed theologians proved themselves more loyal to the monarchy than did the Catholics. In the same way, during La Fronde (1649-1653), the Protestants remained faithful to the king.
The divine right of the monarch was overstated and carried to an extreme by some people, distorting Calvin’s doctrine and verging on idolatry. Indeed in 1656, the representatives of the Reformed Church addressed the young Louis XIV in these terms : “we apply our religious principles to politics. We believe that no subject can ever deserve anything from his monarch.”
This state of mind led the Reformed Protestants to conform to the decisions made by the monarch, to refrain from rebelling even when their temples were threatened of destruction. Some did not change their minds until after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
Progress in the tour
- CARBONNIER-BURKARD Marianne et CABANEL Patrick, Une histoire des protestants en France, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1998
Protestant "places of safety"
The “places of safety”, strongholds in the hands of governors and granted to the Reformed, met religious and military requirements.
The "Dragonnades" (1681-1685)
A “Dragonnade” was the forced lodging of dragoons, the king’s soldiers, in Huguenot homes. The latter were looted and mistreated until they renounced their faith.
The conversion policy (1660-1685)
While the edict was “rigorously” enforced, the Catholic Church used peaceful means to prompt Protestants to convert. These included the proposal of financial means.
The Catholic re-conquest (1600-1660)
Due to the Trente Council, the Catholic Church gathered strength and launched a campaign of peaceful re-conquest meant to prevail over the Protestant “heresy”. It resorted to three different means : public debates, missions and personal conversion.
A seeming lull (1630-1660)
After the Alès peace treaty, Richelieu tried to get the Protestants back into the Catholic Church. Under the rule of Mazarin, because of the necessities of France’s foreign policy and thanks to their loyalty during “la Fronde” events, the Protestants enjoyed a period of peace.
The last religious wars (1621-1629)
Under Louis XIII, in the wake of the Béarn case, the Protestants rebelled against the king. After their defeat, they lost their political assemblies and their strongholds and as a result fully depended on the king’s good will.
Protestantism under the rule of the Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, granting the French Protestants freedom lasted nearly a century. But it was gradually torn apart first when political and military privileges were removed, then when their places of worship and religious freedoms started to be challenged.
From Louis XIII to the death of Mazarin (1610-1661)
Following the Béarn affair (1620), the Protestants, under the leadership of Henri de Rohan, revolted against Louis XIII. After their defeat, they lose their political assemblies and their places of safety: they no longer depend on the king’s goodwill.
After the peace of Alès, Richelieu tried to reintegrate the Protestants into the Catholic Church. Under Mazarin’s ministry, foreign policy imperatives and Protestant loyalty during the Fronde brought them a lull.