The Huguenot Connection: The Edict of Nantes, Its by Richard M. Golden (auth.), R. M. Golden (eds.)

By Richard M. Golden (auth.), R. M. Golden (eds.)

Richard M. Golden very likely the main well-known occasion in Louis XIV's lengthy reign (1643-1715) used to be the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, issued via the French king on 17 October 1685 and registered 5 days later by way of the parlement of _Paris, a sovereign judicial establishment having jurisdiction over nearly one-half of the dominion. The Edict of Fontainebleau (the Revocation's technical identify, derived from the palace southeast of Paris the place Louis had signed the act) declared unlawful the general public career of Calvinist Protestantism and led might be as many as 200,000 Huguenots/ as French Protestants have been recognized, to escape their native land. They did so regardless of royal decrees opposed to emigration and the tough punishment (prison for girls, the galleys for males) waiting for these stuck escaping. The Revocation is a landmark within the checkered historical past of non secular toleration (or intolerance); Huguenots, many Roman Catholics, and historians of all persuasions have heaped scorn on Louis XIV for chickening out the Edict of Nantes, issued via his grandfather, Henry IV (1589-1610). King Henry had proclaimed the 1598 Edict to be either "perpetual" and "irrevocable. " even if one absolutist king couldn't bind his successors and even supposing "irrevocable" within the context of French legislation easily intended irrevocable till outmoded by means of one other edict, historians have accused Louis XIV of two breaking religion with Henry IV and the Huguenots. Louis did basically what Henry prob­ ably could have performed had he possessed the considered necessary power.

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He wrote: "L'Edit de Nantes leur laissa deux especes d'assemblees: les assemblees pour cause de religion ... et les assemblees politiques," citing artIcles thirty-four of the second set, and eighty-two of the ftrst set-which said the exact opposite. His further observations on the subject of assemblies are garbled and contradictory. Histoire du regne de, Henri IV, 1:368-69. This error has been widely repeated. For example, according to Perrens, L'Eglise et Ntat, 1:135, 148, Henry permitted the Huguenots "en quelque sorte une Republique dans l'etat," including assemblies, which is quite misleading.

The numbers are both approximate 35 The difference between these documents is juridical and technical, but in executive terms arcane, reflecting the ambiguity and obfuscation to which I have referred. In common parlance, "the Edict" has comprised all four documents-the whole agreement, although only the ninety-two articles. were registered by the parlements. This verbal convenience was therefore not unassailable. Thus, upon examination, the very Edict itself becomes elusive and debatable. 2S To the Huguenots, the articles depended on the second brevet-the guarantee clauses-because they were never convinced that once deprived of the means of defense, they would not soon be deprived of everything else.

By implication and extension, Henry had also sanctioned their election-or selection-and recognized their necessary relations with those whom they served and represented. Yet there was no specified, legal channel of communication or machinery behind the deputies through which to operate. In these circumstances they copld only liaise with illegal bodies, or work through the organization of the churches. How were they to determine what was legal and what was not-if indeed this bothered them? While it is easy to differentiate, for instance, between doctrine and elections, or penance and war, it was not simple to distinguish either between political and ecclesiastical business or, within a Presbyterian church structure, between secular and ecclesiastical personnel.

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