Reasons Why the Edict of Nantes was Revoked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  This settling of religion conveyed the message to King Louis that nobody would care if he repealed the Edict of Nantes.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  Since 17th Century France was different than the 16th Century version, it was no longer applicable.

Since Louis XIV believed the Edict of Nantes was no longer valid before even revoking it, he made normal life normal life for Huguenots very hard.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.

Conclusion

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.

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The Dutch Revolt

During the 16th Century, when Philip II was King of Spain, he was also governor of the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, he was not very tolerant of any religion other than  Catholicism.  So this made it hard for him to deal peacefully with the Protestants.  While Philip was never actually in the Netherlands, his sister Margaret, Duchess of Parma was living in the Netherlands as regent.   And what she saw was that the Protestants were very tolerant towards all and that nobody was forced to do anything against their will.  However, because Philip didn’t believe in religious toleration, he tried to stem the protestant growth in the Netherlands by instating the Inquisition.  There were many different times in Europe when the Inquisition was used, but this was a time when the Protestants were not allowed any religious freedom and were persecuted.  It was religious prejudice.

A bit fearfully, Margaret wrote to Philip pleading with him to stop the Inquisition because in the Netherlands was very happy.  So Philip did the right thing and gave the Protestants some space.  But what worried him next was that the Protestants were now having large gatherings, and they were all showing up armed.  This made Philip start to think that maybe he had been too nice to them.  Had he?  Philip began receiving reports about more large gatherings and how Catholic churches and houses were being vandalized by Protestants now as well.  Now that was it for Philip, he immediately organized a 10,000 strong army, led by the Duke of Alba to get the Protestants under control.  He didn’t reinstate the Inquisition, but it was still just as bad.  The Duke of Alba also issued a 10% tax increase, which added to the mix of the Protestants’ anger and frustration.  No matter what the King did, he could no longer contain the revolting Protestants.

The revolt finally ended in 1648, long after all the people who had started it in 1568 were dead, and when the Treaty of Münster was signed and gave the Protestants religious freedom.  The Netherlands as a whole was also given its own freedom.

Quinn Palmer

RPC Student

 

You can read more about the Dutch Revolt and the Treaty of Münster here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Revolt#Peace

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Münster

Elizabeth I Chooses…?

Many people today struggle with finding or staying with a religion.  This isn’t a new problem.  Many people, especially important people,  sometimes struggled with this.  Elizabeth I, Queen of England was one of these.

In the 16th Century, while Elizabeth I, was able to create a system of order and a thriving economy with low taxes in her England.  Being queen for 45 years probably helped too!  I’m sure many people were happy to have Elizabeth as their queen.  However,  she struggled to pick a religion for her country to use.  Did she want Protestantism?  Or would she try something relatively new?  Did she want Catholicism?  If she did,  she would have to share power with the Catholic church which was not what she wanted to do.  She most definitely wanted to be absolutist or the only one in charge of church and state.  But, Catholicism was the religion that was accepted by previous monarchs.  And although, she did like some views of the Catholic church, she was reluctant to share any power.  She abandoned trying to choose between Protestantism or Catholicism and chose, instead, the religion of Anglicanism.  She even forced Ireland to abandon Catholicism and have Anglicanism as their religion.  They had no choice.

Unfortunately, this confirms  one of humankind’s major weaknesses: That powerful people will often do anything to keep their  power and have it all.  In Queen  Elizabeth’s case, there’s a good chance that she didn’t believe in or truly want Anglicanism for England — except as a wise political move.  Maybe she just did it to avoid the Catholics and to keep the Protestants ‘Okay’  with her decision.   Looking back, history must ask if she ever picked a national religion for the benefit of her people?  Or just to stay in power?  Maybe she felt it was both.

Quinn Palmer

RPC Student

 

A Thesis on the 95 Theses

 

I was recently asked by Dr. Tom Woods, instructor of my on-line Western Civilization course, to consider: “What were the 95 Theses about? What was the basic message of Luther’s complaint?

Here are my thoughts.

Martin Luther, who is sometimes referred to as the ‘father’ of the Protestant Reformation, wanted to reform the Catholic church.  In a sense, he wanted to reboot the whole system.  If possible, his goal was to replace all the Catholic beliefs with new ones.  And, naturally, preferably with his.  As one can imagine, this did not go over well with the Catholic leadership or even normal, everyday parishioners so he ended up forming his own sect of religion instead.  What he is most known for was the bold way he and ‘hand-delivered’ his complaints, nailing 95 statements against the selling of indulgences.

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Martin Luther ‘hand-delivering’ his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg

An indulgence was a slip of paper that, when purchased, declared you forgiven of your sins.  Along with a few required actions, like saying a prayer, all you really had to do was purchase one every time you needed to do some repenting.  For instance, Theses No. 27 chides, “They [Catholic bishops and other authorities] preach man that as soon as the penny jingles in the money box, the souls fly out of purgatory.”  I am curious to know if the Catholic  bishops back then actually believed that divine forgiveness required money more than a change of heart, but either way it is easy to understand how this could get out of hand.  For the poor, what was it like if they had to choose between buying food or indulgences?

Another one of Luther’s arguments that kills the practice at its core, and one that I particularly liked, is  No. 36: “Every truly penitent Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt without letters of pardon.”  He is saying that not just some  Christians have the chance to be saved, but all of them!

While I’m sure the Catholic church has changed and moved on since the 16th Century, I believe God inspired Martin Luther, and other truth seekers like him, to courageously stand up against what they felt was wrong for the benefit of believers.