Huguenots

Suppression

In the reign of King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu decided to suppress Protestant political privileges. An uprising (1621–22) against the introduction of Catholicism in Béarn was put down by Richelieu, and the Protestants lost all the strongholds given to them under the Edict of Nantes, except Montauban and La Rochelle. Led by Henri de Rohan and Benjamin de Soubise, the Huguenots revolted again in 1625 and in 1627. La Rochelle was captured (1628) by Richelieu after a 14-month siege, during which King Charles I of England attempted to send some aid to the Protestant defenders. The Peace of Alais (1629) stripped the Huguenots of all political power but assured them of continued religious tolerance.

Cardinal Mazarin continued Richelieu's policy, but King Louis XIV, urged by the French Catholic clergy, moved to suppress the dissident religion. Conversion was encouraged; the Edict of Nantes was interpreted in the strictest way possible; and dragoons were quartered in the homes of Huguenots (see dragonnades). Finally, in 1685, the Edict of Nantes was revoked.

This act had disastrous results. Entire provinces were depopulated as countless Huguenots fled to England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and America. The only important fragment of Huguenots left in France was in the Cévennes, where the war of the Camisards (1702–10) broke out. In 1787, Louis XVI allowed the Huguenots tolerance, and in Dec., 1789, the revolutionary National Assembly restored their civil rights. Full religious freedom was not attained until church and state were separated in 1905.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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