Reasons Why the Edict of Nantes was Revoked

On October 22, 1685, catholic King Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes to begin his conquest of bringing France under the one religion of catholicism and eliminating the Huguenots, a nickname given to French Protestants.  Now, Louis XIV was taking promised rights away from the Huguenots by withdrawing the Edict, and declaring to have reasons of justification for revoking their promised protection.  He claimed that there was not a big Huguenot influence, that the Edict of Nantes was not even valid and finally, he revoked the Edict of Nantes because there were no Huguenots left in France.

Not as Much Influence

The Protestant reformation started in 1517 and was a time of upheaval and disruption all over Europe.  This reformation even started a war!  Many nobles, like King Henry IV converted to Protestantism and gave the push necessary to obtain peace and freedom for all Huguenots.

However, into the 17th Century, Protestantism started losing momentum and fading into the background of state priorities.  In fact, the whole concept of religion itself was becoming less important to the government and the citizens.  State control through economy and government was becoming more popular.  This settling of religion conveyed the message to King Louis that nobody would care if he repealed the Edict of Nantes.  Louis XIV thought this, of course, only to benefit his own actions and plans for France.

No Application

To the catholic Louis XIV, not only did it seem that nobody would care if he nullified the Edict of Nantes, he believed that it no longer had any application to 17th Century France.  Since 17th Century France was different than the 16th Century version, it was no longer applicable.

Since Louis XIV believed the Edict of Nantes was no longer valid before even revoking it, he made normal life normal life for Huguenots very hard.  Louis XIV enforced many restrictions and laws on the Huguenots.  For example, Huguenots of both high and low standard were forced to house French soldiers that would harass the women, and force other members of the family to do chores, and many ridiculing, hurtful acts like holding holding hot coals in their bare hands.  Many Huguenots decided not to put up with the trouble and pain Louis was forcing upon them, so they left to other countries.   These migrations were exactly what Louis XIV wanted.  He was getting closer to creating a uniform society where there was only one religion and one ruler.

No Huguenots Left

By 1685, the year the Edict of Nantes was revoked, thousands of Huguenots had already fled from France.  Fleeing to places like England, Germany and the Netherlands.

Because almost all the Huguenots were gone,  Louis XIV justified revoking the Edict by claiming that because there were so few Protestants left, they had no need for the Edict of Nantes at all anymore.  With the Edict gone, nothing was stopping the French soldiers and people from persecuting and doing whatever they pleased to the remaining Huguenots.  Protestant worship was forbidden, and Catholicism became the state religion.


Louis XIV wanted so much power and uniformity, that he expelled hundreds of thousands of good and innocent people just because of their religion and differences.  My opinion is that no matter what Louis’ reasons were, they were not good enough to justify revoking the Edict of Nantes for power.  If anything, the Huguenots were better off anyway!  The Huguenots were welcomed into their homes in different countries where they were accepted and flourished.  Their new lives were better, and the economies of their surrogate countries thrived, while France became more unstable, both in an economic and government aspect after the loss of the Huguenots.  In a way, Louis XIV did them a favor.