The Second Republic (1849-1852)

Protestants reacted in various ways to the Revolution of February 1848. Aware of the dire poverty of the people, many welcomed it. Others remained wary of the danger of socialist ideas.

The 1848 Revolution welcomed in the majority of cases

  • Edmond de Pressensé (1824-1891)

For the major part of French Protestants, the July Monarchy represented the best of possible political regimes. Protestants reacted in various ways to the 1848 Revolution, all the more so since the initiators of the Second Republic were not anti-religious, and had called upon pastors and Catholic priests to participate in ceremonies of planting the trees of liberty.

The event was joyfully welcomed by many, such as the young E. de Pressensé, an active parishioner of the Chapelle Taitbout, deeply moved by the extreme poverty of the people, or Madame André-Walther, a well-known Parisian socialite who was convinced of the need for social reforms.

But to others, the event had negative connotations. Social unrest frightened many, with the exception of Guizot, who showed great dignity. Socialism and communism were considered as « rival religions » and Léon de Maleville, Interior Minister for a while in 1849, belonged to the Committee of the Association pour la propagande antisocialiste et l’amélioration des classes laborieuses. The most prominent pastors, influenced by Vinet’s thought, were opposed to the « pantheism » of Fourier, Louis Blanc and Proudhon. Leon Pilatte advocated Christianity as the only solution to the social problem. Athanase Coquerel, elected deputy for Paris with the backing of the very “bourgeois” « Comité démocratique protestant », sided with the conservative sectors opposed to all « subversive propaganda ».

Associated notes

  • Alexandre Vinet (1797-1847)

    For almost a century, the writings of Swiss theologian Alexandre Vinet had a major influence on French-speaking Protestantism.
  • Henriette André-Walther (1807-1886)

    She was the daughter of Major General Count Frédéric-Henri Walther. She married Jean André, was the mother of Alfred André, and one of the prominent figures in French high society.
  • The July monarchy (1830-1848)

    Generally speaking, Protestants had no difficulty accepting the July Monarchy ; it began to consider them as ordinary citizens, since Roman Catholicism had once more become the « religion of the majority...
  • Edmond Dehault de Pressensé (1824-1891)

  • The Third Republic (1871-1940)

    Most Protestants were favourable to the Third Republic and strongly influenced its beginnings. Several intellectuals were attracted by Protestantism and for some, the “protestantisation” of France was, they felt, the...
  • The Second Empire

    The Protestant attitude towards Louis-Napoléon and the Second Empire was ambiguous. Generally speaking, the regime seemed too authoritarian and clerical, at least in its early years. Nevertheless it relaxed the...

Associated tours