Between Peaceful Coexistence and Ongoing Conflict: Religious Tolerance and the Protestant Minority in Seventeenth-Century France
Collins, James JC
This dissertation is a study of religious tolerance and the Huguenot minority in earlymodern France. From the Wars of Religion (1562-1629) to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, early modern French people experimented with the possibility of religious coexistence between Catholics and Protestants. This study focuses on how early modern French Catholics and Protestants perceived tolerance and coexistence in their real life, which was virtually the issue of whether they accepted the edict of pacification to permit Protestant worship at some areas for ending the civil wars. After the Edict of Nantes brought relatively stable internal peace in 1598, the issue was extended how they interpreted the articles of the Edict and implemented the articles in detail. In order to examine the practical interreligious social relations, this dissertation explores the documents prepared for the Estates-Generals, political pamphlets, and memory practices, which all conveyed popular perceptions of tolerance and coexistence in early modern France. For unfolding the experience of religious cohabitation at the ground level, I also compare the legal battle over the articles of the Edict in Normandy of the North, where the Huguenot community was a small and isolated minority, with that in Nîmes of the South, where Protestant bastions were numerous and concentrated. In so doing, this dissertation demonstrates that, for the early modern French people, religious tolerance was not an abstract idea but a very real problem, thereby arguing that the reality of tolerance in seventeenth-century France could never be limited to peaceful coexistence and ongoing conflict, but it was always a constant struggle between those two extremes.
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