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

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270046.001.0001

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Cruelty and Compromise, 1700–1774

Cruelty and Compromise, 1700–1774

(p.589) 45 Cruelty and Compromise, 1700–1774
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

John McManners

Oxford University Press

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

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