The Full Wiki

Edict of Nantes: Map

Advertisements
  
  

Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:



The Edict of Nantes, April 1598.
The Edict of Nantes (sometimes spelled Edict of Nantz) was issued on April 13, 1598 by Henry IV of France to grant the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. The main concern was civil unity, and the Edict separated civil from religious unity, treated some Protestants for the first time as more than mere schism and heretics, and opened a path for secularism and tolerance. In offering general freedom of conscience to individuals, the edict offered many specific concessions to the Protestants, such as amnesty and the reinstatement of their civil rights, including the right to work in any field or for the State and to bring grievances directly to the king. It marks the end of the religious wars that tore apart the population of France during the second half of the 16th century.

Background

The Edict aimed primarily to end the long-running, disruptive French Wars of Religion. Henry IV also had personal reasons for supporting the Edict. Prior to assuming the throne in 1589 he had espoused Protestantism, and he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause: he had converted to Catholicism in 1593 only in order to secure his position as king, supposedly saying "Paris is well worth a Mass". The Edict succeeded in restoring peace and internal unity to France, though it pleased neither party: Catholics rejected the apparent recognition of Protestantism as a permanent element in French society and still hoped to enforce religious uniformity, while Protestants aspired to parity with Catholics. "Toleration in France was a royal notion, and the religious settlement was dependent upon the continued support of the crown."

Re-establishing royal authority in France required internal peace, based on limited toleration enforced by the crown. Since royal troops could not be everywhere, Huguenots needed to be granted strictly circumscribed possibilities of self-defense.

The edict

The Edict of Nantes that Henry IV signed comprised four basic texts, including a principal text made up of 92 articles and largely based on unsuccessful peace treaties signed during the recent wars. The Edict also included 56 "particular" (secret) articles dealing with Protestant rights and obligations. For example, the French state guaranteed protection of French Protestants travelling abroad from the Inquisition. "This crucifies me," protested Pope Clement VIII, upon hearing of the Edict. The final two parts consisted of brevets (letters patent) which contained the military clauses and pastoral clauses. These two brevets were withdrawn in 1629 by Louis XIII, following a final religious civil war.

The two letters patent supplementing the Edict granted the Protestants places of safety (places de s√Ľret√©), which were military strongholds such as La Rochellemarker, in support of which the king paid 180,000 √©cus a year, along with a further 150 emergency forts (places de refuge), to be maintained at the Huguenots' own expense. Such an act of toleration was unusual in Western Europe, where standard practice forced subjects to follow the religion of their ruler ‚ÄĒ the application of the principle of cuius regio, eius religio.

While it granted certain privileges to Huguenots, the edict reaffirmed Catholicism as the established religion of France. Protestants gained no exemption from paying the tithe and had to respect Catholic holiday and restrictions regarding marriage. The authorities limited Protestant freedom of worship to specified geographic areas. The Edict dealt only with Protestant and Catholic coexistence; it made no mention of Jews, or of Muslims, who were offered temporary asylum in France when the Moriscos were being expelled from Spain.

The original Act which promulgated the Edict, has disappeared. The Archives Nationales in Paris preserves only the text of a shorter document modified by concessions extracted from the King by the clergy and the Parlement of Paris, which delayed ten months, before finally signing and setting seals to the document in 1599. A copy of the first edict, sent for safekeeping to Protestant Genevamarker, survives. The provincial parlements resisted in their turn; the most recalcitrant, the parlement of Rouen, did not unreservedly register the Edict until 1609.

Revocation

The Edict remained in unaltered effect, registered by the parliaments as "fundamental and irrevocable law", with the exception of the brevets, which had been granted for a period of eight years, and were renewed by Henry in 1606 and in 1611 by Marie de Médecis, who confirmed the Edict within a week of the assassination of Henry, stilling Protestant fears of another St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. The subsidies had been reduced by degrees, as Henry gained more secure control of the nation. By the peace of Montpellier in 1622, concluding a Huguenot revolt in Languedoc, the fortified Protestant towns were reduced to two, La Rochellemarker and Montaubanmarker. The brevets were entirely withdrawn in 1629, by Louis XIII, following the Siege of La Rochelle, in which Cardinal Richelieu blockaded the city for fourteen months.

During the remainder of Louis XIII's reign, and especially during the minority of Louis XIV, the implementation of the Edict varied year by year, voiced in declarations and orders, and in case decisions in the Council, fluctuating according to the tides of domestic politics and the relations of France with powers abroad.

In October 1685, Louis XIV, the grandson of Henry IV, renounced the Edict and declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fontainebleau. This act, commonly called the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had very damaging results for France. While the wars of religion did not re-ignite, many Protestants chose to leave France, most moving to Great Britainmarker, Prussia, the Dutch Republic, Switzerlandmarker and the new French colonies in North America. Huguenots also settled in South Africa. This exodus deprived France of many of its most skilled and industrious individuals, who would from now on aid France's rivals in Holland and England. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes also further damaged the perception of Louis XIV abroad, making the Protestant nations bordering France even more hostile to his regime. Upon the revocation of the edict, Frederick Wilhelm issued the Edict of Potsdam, which encouraged Protestants to come to Brandenburg.

Literal Translation

The Principal and most salient Provisions of Henry IV’s Edict of Nantes, which was promulgated at Nantes, in Brittany, on April 13, 1598, are as follows:

Henry, by the grace of God king of France and of Navarre, to all to whom these presents come, greeting:

Among the infinite benefits which it has pleased God to heap upon us, the most signal and precious is his granting us the strength and ability to withstand the fearful disorders and troubles which prevailed on our advent in this kingdom. The realm was so torn by innumerable factions and sects that the most legitimate of all the parties was fewest in numbers. God has given us strength to stand out against this storm; we have finally surmounted the waves and made our port of safety,‚ÄĒpeace for our state. For which his be the glory all in all, and ours a free recognition of his grace in making use of our instrumentality in the good work.... We implore and await from the Divine Goodness the same protection and favor which he has ever granted to this kingdom from the beginning....

We have, by this perpetual and irrevocable edict, established and proclaimed and do establish and proclaim:

I. First, that the recollection of everything done by one party or the other between March, 1585, and our accession to the crown, and during all the preceding period of troubles, remain obliterated and forgotten, as if no such things had ever happened....

III. We ordain that the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion shall be restored and re√ęstablished in all places and localities of this our kingdom and countries subject to our sway, where the exercise of the same has been interrupted, in order that it may be peaceably and freely exercised, without any trouble or hindrance; forbidding very expressly all persons, of whatsoever estate, quality, or condition, from troubling, molesting, or disturbing ecclesiastics in the celebration of divine service, in the enjoyment or collection of tithes, fruits, or revenues of their benefices, and all other rights and dues belonging to them; and that all those who during the troubles have taken possession of churches, houses, goods or revenues, belonging to the said ecclesiastics, shall surrender to them entire possession and peaceable enjoyment of such rights, liberties, and sureties as they had before they were deprived of them....

VI. And in order to leave no occasion for troubles or differences between our subjects, we have permitted, and herewith permit, those of the said religion called Reformed to live and abide in all the cities and places of this our kingdom and countries of our sway, without being annoyed, molested, or compelled to do anything in the matter of religion contrary to their consciences, ... upon condition that they comport themselves in other respects according to that which is contained in this our present edict.

VII. It is permitted to all lords, gentlemen, and other persons making profession of the said religion called Reformed, holding the right of high justice [or a certain feudal tenure], to exercise the said religion in their houses....

IX. We also permit those of the said religion to make and continue the exercise of the same in all villages and places of our dominion where it was established by them and publicly enjoyed several and divers times in the year 1597, up to the end of the month of August, notwithstanding all decrees and judgments to the contrary....

XIII. We very expressly forbid to all those of the said religion its exercise, either in respect to ministry, regulation, discipline, or the public instruction of children, or otherwise, in this our kingdom and lands of our dominion, otherwise than in the places permitted and granted by the present edict.

XIV. It is forbidden as well to perform any function of the said religion in our court or retinue, or in our lands and territories beyond the mountains, or in our city of Paris, or within five leagues of the said city....

XVIII. We also forbid all our subjects, of whatever quality and condition, from carrying off by force or persuasion, against the will of their parents, the children of the said religion, in order to cause them to be baptized or confirmed in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church; and the same is forbidden to those of the said religion called Reformed, upon penalty of being punished with especial severity....

XXI. Books concerning the said religion called Reformed may not be printed and publicly sold, except in cities and places where the public exercise of the said religion is permitted.

XXII. We ordain that there shall be no difference or distinction made in respect to the said religion, in receiving pupils to be instructed in universities, colleges, and schools; nor in receiving the sick and poor into hospitals, retreats, and public charities.

See also



Notes

  1. The Edict itself states merely that it is "given at Nantes, in the month of April, in the year of Our Lord one thousand five hundred and ninety-eight". By the late 19th century the Catholic tradition reported in Baedeker, Northern France, 1889, sited the signing in the "Maison des Tourelles", home of prosperous Spanish trader Andr√© Ruiz (it was destroyed by bombing in World War II). A detailed chronological account of the negotiations that led to the Edict's promulgation has been offered by Janine Garrisson, L'√Čdit de Nantes: Chronique d'une paix attendue (Paris: Fayard) 1998.
  2. In 1898 the tricentennial celebrated the Edict as the foundation of the coming Age of Toleration; the 1998 anniversary, by contrast, was commemorated with a book of essays under the evocatively ambivalent title, Coexister dans l'intolérance (Michel Grandjean and Bernard Roussel, editors, Geneva, 1998).
  3. George A. Rothrock, Jr., "Some Aspects of Early Bourbon Policy toward the Huguenots" Church History 29.1 (March 1960:17-24) p. 17.
  4. Texts published in Benoist 1693 I:62-98 (noted by Rothrock).
  5. For Eastern Europe, see Mehmed II's Firman on the Freedom of the Bosnian Franciscans or the Warsaw Confederation.
  6. The King engaged to support the Protestant ministers in part recompense.
  7. The ordonnance of 22 February 1610 stipulated that the emigrés settle north of the Dordogne (safely away from the manipulations of Spanish agents) and that they embrace the Catholic faith; those who did not wish to do so were granted right of passage to French ports on the Mediterranean, to take ship for Barbary. (L. P. Harvey, Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614, 2005:318). By the time the ordonnance was published Henri IV had been assassinated.
  8. Rothrock 1960:23 note 6.
  9. A point made in Rothrock 1960:19.
  10. Ruth Kleinman, "Changing Interpretations of the Edict of Nantes: The Administrative Aspect, 1643-1661" French Historical Studies 10.4 (Autumn 1978:541-571.
  11. See History of the French in Louisville.


Sources

The source followed by most modern historians is the Huguenot refugee √Člie Benoist's Histoire de l'√©dit de Nantes, 3 vols. (Delft, 1693-95). E.G. L√©onard devotes a chapter to the Edict of Nantes in his Histoire g√©n√©ral du protestantisme, 2 vols. (Paris) 1961:II:312-89.

External links




Embed code:
Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message