Edict of Fontainebleau


Edict of Fontainebleau

The Edict of Fontainebleau (October 1685) was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1598, which had granted to the Huguenots the right to worship their religion without persecution from the state.

Effects of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes

By this edict, the "Sun King" revoked the Edict of Nantes (1600) and ordered the destruction of Huguenot churches, as well as the closing of Protestant schools. This policy officialized the persecution already enforced since the "dragonnades" created in 1681 by the king in order to intimidate Huguenots into converting to Catholicism. As a result of the persecution by the "dragons" soldiers and the subsequent Edict of Fontainebleau, a large number of Protestants — estimates range from 210,000 to 900,000 — left France over the next two decades, seeking asylum in England, the United Provinces, Denmark, the Habsburg's Holy Roman Empire, South Africa and North America. [Spielvogel, "Western Civilization — Volume II: Since 1500" (5th Edition, 2003) p.410] On January 17 1686, Louis XIV himself claimed that out of a Huguenot population of 800,000 to 900,000, only 1,000 to 1,500 had remained in France.

Louis XIV's pious second wife Madame de Maintenon was a strong advocate of Protestant persecution and urged Louis to revoke Henri IV's edict; her confessor and spiritual adviser, François de la Chaise, must be held largely responsible.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes created a state of affairs in France similar to that of virtually every other European country of the period (possibly with the exception of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), where only the majority state religion was tolerated. The experiment of religious toleration in Europe was effectively ended for the time being. In practice, the revocation caused France to suffer a kind of early brain drain, as it lost a large number of skilled craftsmen, including key designers such as Daniel Marot. Upon leaving France, Huguenots took with them knowledge of important techniques and styles — which had a significant effect on the quality of the silk, plate glass, silversmithing (see: Huguenot silver), and cabinet making industries of those regions to which they relocated. Some rulers, such as Frederick Wilhelm of Brandenburg, who issued the Edict of Potsdam, encouraged the Protestants to seek refuge in their nations.

The Edict of Fontainebleau is compared by many historians with the 1492 Alhambra Decree, ordering the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The two are similar both as an outburst of extreme religious intolerance where there was relative tolerance before, and because the social and economic effects of the Alhambra Decree in Spain were similar to the above-mentioned effects in France.

References

See also

*1702 Camisard rebellion in the Cevennes
*French Wars of Religion
*Religions in France
*Edict of Potsdam


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