The Huguenots and French Opinion, 1685-1787
The Enlightenment Debate on Toleration
Paper 349 pp.
Online discount: 25%
The decision of Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes and thus liquidate French Calvinism was well received in the intellectual community which was deeply prejudiced against the Huguenots. This antipathy would gradually disappear. After the death of the Sun King, a more sympathetic view of the Protestant minority was presented to French readers by leading thinkers such as Montesquieu, the abbé Prévost, and Voltaire. By the middle years of the eighteenth century, liberal clerics, lawyers, and government ministers joined Encyclopedists in urging the emancipation of the Reformed who were seen to be loyal, peaceable and productive. Then, in 1787, thanks to intensive lobbying by a group which included Malesherbes, Lafayette, and the future revolutionary Rabaut Saint-Étienne, the government of Louis XVI issued an edict of toleration which granted the Huguenots a modest bill of civil and religious rights.
Adams’ illuminating work treats a major chapter in the history of toleration; it explores in depth a fascinating shift in mentalités, and it offers a new focus on the process of “reform from above” in pre-Revolutionary France.
Geoffrey Adams is a Toronto native who did his graduate work at the University of Chicago under Louis Gottschalk. He has taught at Waterloo Lutheran College (now Wilfrid Laurier University), Elmira College in New York State and, since 1962, at Concordia University in Montreal. He is currently researching the civic role of French Protestants since the Dreyfus Affair.
“... a polished, scholarly study....”
— Huguenot Society Proceedings
“Adams does an excellent job sorting out the different motives behind mounting calls for toleration that culminated in the progressive dismantling over the 1700s and 1780s of the civil penalties long imposed on Huguenots and other disenfranchised groups, like the Jews....This fine book would work very well in upper-division and graduate courses on the Enlightenment and religion in early modern Europe.”
— Religious Studies Review
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