Cruelty and Compromise, 1700–1774

John McManners

in Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270041
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600692 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Cruelty and Compromise, 1700–1774

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The Camisard revolt in the Cévennes in the early eighteenth century led not only to fierce repression of Protestantism in southern France but also to the reorganization of the clandestine Huguenot churches and strengthening of the faith in the period known in Protestant history as ‘the Desert’. The anti‐Huguenot edicts of Louis XIV remained in force under Louis XV, resulting in the cruel harassment of defiant Protestants and ‘new Catholics’, including the forceable removal of children from their parents to be educated as Catholics. The clandestine assemblies of Protestants were frequently broken up by the military, but as the century wore on, royal intendants withdrew their cooperation from the most fanatical of persecuting bishops. Repression and its attendant cruelties revolted public opinion, leading to a pamphlet debate in the 1750s, exacerbated by the Calas affair of 1762‐63, made famous by Voltaire. Despite the tolerant attitude of many individual curés, the Church remained firmly committed to the suppression of the Huguenots and took much of the blame for an unpopular policy.

Keywords: Calas affair; Camisards; education; Enlightenment; Huguenots; intendants; religious toleration

Chapter.  16432 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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