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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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Towards a Grudging Toleration, 1774–1789

Towards a Grudging Toleration, 1774–1789

(p.644) 47 Towards a Grudging Toleration, 1774–1789
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

John McManners

Oxford University Press

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

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