Today in Catholic History – Edict of Nantes

On 13 April 1598, Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes which granted the Huguenots [French Calvinists] the right to public worship in certain French cities and ended the French Wars of Religion [1562-1598]. It was one one of the earliest decrees instituting religious toleration in Modern Europe.

Henry IV himself had been a Huguenot before becoming king and had converted to Catholicism because it had been required for him to take the French throne – supposedly saying “Paris is worth a Mass”.

Because Henry IV’s ability to protect Protestants against Catholics, who continued to desire religious uniformity in France, was limited the right to public worship granted by the Edict was restricted to specific “places of safety”. In addition to granting right to worship and full civil rights, the Edict also protected French Protestants from the Inquisition. Catholicism was retained as the established religion of France and Protestants still had to pay the Church tithe and respect Catholic holidays.

After the death of Henry IV, the tolerance offered to the Protestants in France would diminish until in October 1685, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fontainebleau. As a result as many as 400,000 Protestants left France. Since these were from France’s merchant class, this would have a devastating effect on the French economy.

For more on the Edict of Nantes

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  1. […] This entry was written by sbeshonertor and posted on April 13, 2010 at 8:31 am and filed under French History, Today in Catholic History. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. … View full post on catholic – Google Blog Search […]

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