Towards a Grudging Toleration, 1774–1789

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

 Towards a Grudging Toleration, 1774–1789

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By the beginning of Louis XVI's reign the Huguenots of the Desert had come to see themselves as loyal subjects of the French king, and many of the Catholic parish clergy acquiesced in a ‘patchwork pattern of edgy toleration, at the mercy of events and the vagaries of malicious or fanatical individuals’. At the beginning of his reign, Louis announced his intention to enforce the anti‐Protestant laws properly, but soon realized that this was both unpopular and impractical. The proponents of toleration, led by the parlement of Paris, gradually gained the upper hand, despite the continuing opposition of the Church establishment. The issue of civil marriage was the main bone of contention, while supporters of tolerance cited foreign examples. The royal edict of toleration in 1787 was a grudging document, maintaining Protestants as second‐class citizens and ‘did little more than end the fiction that there were no Protestants in France’.

Keywords: Huguenots; Louis XVI; parlements; religious toleration

Chapter.  6225 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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