Since the 450-year anniversary of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1985, historians have taken greater interest in re-examining the history of the Huguenots in France and abroad. Generally, they have hoped to offer a more balanced interpretation of the Huguenots’ role in French history and to readjust the ‘heroic narrative’ in which the Huguenots are often cast.1 Until this resurgence in Huguenot studies, the most comprehensive studies on the Huguenot flight and their life in France were largely nineteenth-century works that were both highly partisan and selective in their evidence.2 Contemporary historians, alternatively, have created a revisionist interpretation which attempts to place the Huguenots in a more nuanced domestic and international context. Two of the books reviewed here deal with the larger issue of Huguenot life in both in France and in exile. First, Carolyn Chappell Lougee writes the story of one Huguenot family’s life in France, their preparation for escape and their emigration experience in Facing the Revocation. Second, David Feutry details a comprehensive history of the Huguenots in Rebelles de la foi. This ‘gallery of personages’ uses curated primary sources to trace Huguenots from the sixteenth century until the present. Both of these authors demonstrate a keen interest in relating familial and political factors when evaluating evidence and exploring the plight of the Huguenots. Though drastically different in subject matter, Juliette Sibon’s Chasser les juifs pour régner uses similar methodologies to explore the construction of a ‘national’ identity in France and buttressing of royal power that ultimately motivated the periodic expulsion of another religious minority—the Jews—from medieval France. Historiography concerning the French Wars of Religion has also paced scholarship on the Huguenots and their migrations. Particularly, since the 1990s, scholars have reshaped the study of the Wars of Religion. In addition to the ground-breaking works of Denis Crouzet,3 Mack Holt4 and Robert Knecht5 have also written surveys of the wars that place religious motivations as the primary catalysts for the conflicts. The general direction of the field is to re-examine the social and theological convictions of the Huguenots and their Catholic counterparts to deconstruct the confessional interpretations of the conflict. This instinct has, more importantly, been applied to religious literature of the period. In this respect, no two authors have left a greater impression on this field than Thierry Wanegfellen and Alain Tallon.6 Their texturing of in-between religious figures such as Michel L’Hôspital and René Benoist has helped historians reconsider using ‘confessional schemas’ in examining the convictions of sixteenth-century thinkers.7 Scholars of English, French and German-language historiography have also produced a number of specialized studies on this pamphlet literature in order to examine the intellectual, political and theological contours of the sixteenth century.8 It is in the wake of more specialized pamphlet-driven literature that the other two books reviewed here should be placed. First, the authors of the volume edited by Sylvie Daubresse and Bertrand Haan entitled La Ligue et ses frontières attempt to reread some traditional Catholic League sources. The general purpose is to understand how local agents simultaneously expressed allegiance Leaguer convictions without holding to their politics. This ‘nebulous’ connection between politics and theology is the context for most of the individual chapter entries in the volume. Second, another collection from the Histoire series edited by Julien Léonard attempts to investigate the reciprocal relationship between the clergy and laity, as well as the relationship between the clergy of both confessions. The book, entitled Prêtres et pasteurs, presents twenty-one case studies that analyse the aforementioned relationships throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Readers can find a clear example of the changing nature of Huguenot scholarship in the work of Carolyn Chappel Lougee. Her book is a self-proclaimed ‘book about stories’ that follows the Champagné family of Saintonge. More specifically, it tells a four-part story of a married couple—Marie de la Rochefoucauld and her husband Josias de Robillard—and their comprehensive emigration experience after the Revocation in 1685. Unlike other accounts of escape, Lougee spends approximately one-third of her book describing the economic, religious and social conditions of the Champagné in advance of their flight from France. The other three sections discuss their preparation and escape from France, the life of those who remained (notably Josias and their infant daughter Thérèse) and finally the family’s resettlement in Holland and, later, England. Methodologically, the author borrows from social historians in constructing her ‘single-family’ history.9 It is through these single-family studies which examine the ‘full trajectory’ of Huguenot relocation, argues Lougee, that can help historians better understand the ‘grand lines of political and social developments in the France of Louis XIV’.10 An outspoken revisionist against the ‘misleading tidiness of the standard Huguenot narrative’, Lougee hopes to re-contextualize Huguenot emigration narratives into more nuanced descriptions and more accurate accounts of the full experience of the Huguenots facing deciding for relocation.11 The greatest contribution of this book relates to its methodology; specifically, Lougee’s deep-dive into this family history demonstrates that most Huguenot escape narratives often conformed to a specific ‘framing’ by the refugees that emphasized (perhaps overemphasized) the cruelty of the regime in France and the difficulty of escape at the expense of telling the whole truth. As a result, historians have relied on the Huguenots’ recounting of the events without appropriate scrutiny. In the case of the Champagné family, the enforcing of the law, monitoring of potential escapees, and route of flight were much less policed than has otherwise been described in contemporary accounts.12 Furthermore, Lougee’s case study of Josias’ religious wavering demonstrates that abjurations do not demonstrate a shallow spiritual commitment of the Huguenots; in fact, his triumphant reconnaissance to Protestantism is an example of the strong commitment of even relapsed Huguenots.13 Despite some misjudgements about the nature of the Reformation in France and one obvious typographical error, this work is eminently helpful in refashioning the methodology and narrative surrounding Huguenot emigration following the Edict of Fontainebleau.14 In contrast to Lougee’s specialized case study, David Feutry’s Rebelles de la foi attempts to survey the history of the Huguenots in France in broad strokes. In an almost Weberian quest, the author attempts to examine what he considers to be the essence or collective identity of the Huguenots from their sixteenth-century genesis until today. For Feutry, the essential components of Huguenot life include confessional theology, education and ‘a critical spirit’.15 Of greater importance is the adhesion to a ‘real liberty of conscience’ and the Huguenot commitment to the ‘universal values’ of tolerance, respect and secularity.16 Importantly, Feurty sees the history of the Huguenots as a continued phenomenon in contemporary history. In order to accomplish his ambitious (perhaps overly-ambitious?) goal, the author divides his book into twenty-three chapters. Each chapter contains a short introduction to its topic—for instance ‘The affair of the Placards’ or ‘Protestants and money’—as well as at least one primary document relating to the chapter title. In this way, Feutry’s book functions well as a textbook-style introduction to the Huguenots at any given point in modern French history. He strategically uses questions at the start of each chapter to lead the reader into his short explanation and to draw them into reading the selected historical passage. For example, the author frequently asks, ‘how can this impasse be explained?’ or ‘in what ways are the Protestants…?’ involved with any given issue.17 Though sometimes artificial, this strategy at least poses the questions which Feurty hopes to answer with his curating readings at the end of each chapter. Some of Feurty’s most helpful contributions come at the beginning of the book; namely, he includes three texts from the early Reformation period that demonstrate well how Huguenot theology had an early influence from the German evangelicals. Feurty’s inclusion of one of Marguerite d’Angoulême’s letters to Guillaume Briçonnet as well as the document made famous by the Affair of the Placards demonstrates that he is willing to stretch the traditional boundaries of what it means to be a Huguenot. Such a broadening of foundational Huguenot texts to include these documents demonstrates Feurty’s adept understanding of current scholarship of the sixteenth century. Feurty is also very creative in his selection of chapters and primary documents including chapters on the Huguenots and women’s rights as well as Huguenots and the Jews. While this works to add variety in subject matter, these selections, and, more importantly, Feurty’s description of the Huguenots’ relation to these oppressed groups is a bit triumphalist. While not impossible, it is hard to imagine that the Huguenots were not merely ingenious capitalists (as portrayed in another chapter), but also supporters oppressed groups such as the Jews and women. A comparable study methodologically and thematically is Sibon’s Chasser les juifs pour régner. Like Lougee, Sibon attempts deepen the reader’s understanding of the expulsion of the Jewish religious minority by factoring in local and political considerations. Specifically, Sibon argues that the Capetian and early Valois kings did not simply order the expulsion of Jews for racial or religious regions; in fact, Louis IX himself repealed previous articles of expulsion and argued it was best for Jews to remain in Christian France ‘in the hope of converting them’.18 According to Sibon, the two centuries of Jewish expulsions should be understood as an extension of royal power. The kings attempted to extend their jurisdiction by issuing royal edicts asserting their power over all the kingdom’s Jewish residents regardless of locale. In doing so, argues Sibon, the crown not only benefited from of Jewish finances (only a tangential concern) but, more importantly, attempted to establish legal solidarity over all of France.19 Moreover, the author bucks at convenient explanations of Jewish expulsion such as antisemitism or overt money grabbing. Simply put, both of these common historiographical explanations are insufficient in their examination of the local and political context.20 Concerning sources, Sibon examines mostly legal and/or official correspondence from the king, nobles and provincial courts. Importantly, the author gives detailed analysis to Philip Augustus’ recently found edict on the Jews from 1182 as well as the first in-depth analysis of Philip IV’s expulsion mandate of 1306. Though the latter is only attested by later recapitulations of the mandate in 1311 and 1312, respectively, Sibon’s discussion of these sources is the first of its kind. Another prominent feature of Sibon’s argument that has long been ignored by scholars of Jewish diaspora is its reliance on localized documents. Though the king expelled the Jews for reasons of statecraft, many of these orders were met with hostility from the locals—sometimes the provincials even ignored royal commands. Though by no means champions of Jewish rights—often locals were the most violent in their methods of removal—these locals were willing to tolerate Jews due to their civic, economic and intellectual contributions to society.21 Helpfully, Sibon also reminds readers that, not unlike edicts of pacification during the French Wars of Religion, most of the expulsions of the Jews were considered provisional; in fact, it was not uncommon for French kings to welcome back the Jews after an edict of expulsion upon certain conditions.22 One significant misstep, however, is the author’s constant reference to royal edicts as ‘propaganda’.23 This concept is hotly contested historiographically, so it would have been prudent to avoid a potential anachronism. Altogether, though, Sibon offers a welcomed reanalysis of the edicts of expulsion and offers a more nuanced interpretation of these documents. The central premise of Daubresse and Haan’s collection is that in order to understand the sensibility and trajectory of those professing allegiance in the Catholic League during the Wars of Religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, a thorough examination of context is in order. More pointedly, the chapters included profile the doubting Catholics who ‘tried to reconcile their relationship of faith both to the king and to the peace and defense of their individual interests’.24 This counters the traditional narrative in which members of the Holy Union were ‘charmed by the preachers and the promises’ of the movement’s leaders.25 The overall portrayal of Leaguers in these chapters casts them as much more adaptive, practical and prudent in their allegiances and much less fanatical than has often been described. One successful essay in this collection is Daubresse’s own discussion of the conflict surrounding the Paris Parlement from 1588–93. Therein, she details the difficult decision for members of Parlement to remain in Paris or to follow the summons of the king to reconvene in Tours. Facing charges of sedition by the king for remaining in Paris, most of these members remained through Henri IV’s reconquering of the city in 1593. Daubresse uses this example to demonstrate the ‘diverse postures of the members of Parlement’ during their time of distress.26 Two more important entries in this work include Nicholas Le Roux’s chapter on nobles during the crisis of 1589 and Luc Racaut’s analysis of political and religious rhetoric in the fragile years of the League. Using a similar methodology to some of the works reviewed above, Le Roux hopes to emphasize the importance that localism played in the group identity of the League. His findings demonstrate that most nobles—even those in Guise-held territories—were largely favourable to the royal cause.27 This was the case even after the passing of the crown to Henri IV. Le Roux also develops the other important contingents of League leadership that existed outside of Guise influence. By successfully demonstrating that even the members of the League functioned mostly out of pragmatism and self-interest, La Roux’s chapter not only serves as a synecdoche for the book at large, but also helps deconstruct the misguided historiographical notion of League unity. Somewhat differently, Luc Racaut’s chapter on René Benoist demonstrates how one sixteenth-century author used rhetorical strategies in order to extend his career during this volatile time. Known by extremists on both sides of the confessional divide as a moyenneur, Benoist supported both the Catholic League in 1588 as well as Henri IV’s government in 1593. He was even somewhat amenable to a German-style solution to the religious problem in France similar to the Cardinal of Lorraine, Charles de Guise. Racaut depicts Benoist as a master of writing to different audiences who used ‘non-choice’ as a mechanism to ‘survive in an epoch when making a choice was difficult’.28 The important contribution here is Racaut’s demonstration that Benoist’s tactics predated even the crisis of the League. Racaut’s findings can, therefore, be helpfully measured against other polemical writers of the period. Interestingly, one chapter in Daubresse and Haan’s volume overlaps thematically with the final book reviewed here. Gregory Bereiter’s chapter on the Leaguer clergy in Dijon demonstrates a case where Catholic priests, all of whom were otherwise supporting of the League’s theological agenda, claimed that League violence in the city and across France dishonoured God’s name.29 Essentially, this group of Dijon priests actively opposed the Holy Union’s leadership by preaching against them and Leaguer violence directed at the politiques as well as the Huguenots. By examining the activity of clergymen during the years of the Catholic League, Bereiter’s work shares continuity with Léonard’s edited volume, Prêtres et pasteurs. The authors in Léonard’s collection explore new sources of interaction between members of the clergy in order to revisit vexing research questions potentially rectify points of disagreement in the historiography of recent decades. Thankfully, they do not look at areas of conflict between clergies of differing confessions because these sources have been thoroughly investigated; rather, they examine points of admiration and congruity between these pastors and priests. In short, the authors here examine the discourse of coexistence better to understand the lives and interactions of everyday clergymen. Three essays embody this goal best. Catherine Ballériaux’s chapter concerning Catholic and Calvinist missions in the new world during the later seventeenth century studies the strikingly similar tactics of Catholic and Protestant missionaries among the Amerindians. Before wars between the English, French and Spanish confessionalized evangelistic efforts to the Native Americans, the two sets of clergy were remarkably cordial; in fact, the Protestants even adopted the successful Catholic practices of ‘habituation, segregation, and good example’.30 Although the author mistakenly portrays some of the theological nuances of double predestination, we can forgive her due to this fascinating case study of Huguenot admiration of their Catholic counterparts. Next, Clarisse Roche’s chapter explores the ‘transconfessional’ city-wide preaching in Vienna during the sixteenth century.31 Due to the constant threat from the Turks in the east, the popular destination for preachers became, for a time, a place where Catholic and Protestant preaching was harmonious. Because of a shared interpretation of the ‘same scriptural references’ and a consciously constructed patristic foundation, preaching against the Turks from both sets of clergy attracted cross-confessional audiences.32 For this short window of time, Vienna offered a tangible setting for friendly interactions between Catholics and Protestants. Moreover, this example demonstrates well that cooperation was, in some instances, the intended path for clergy and laity alike. Similarly, Céline Borello’s chapter on Protestant homiletical methods during the eighteenth century demonstrates a marked influence from their Catholic predecessors. Rather than emulate solely the great preachers in their tradition, Protestant homiletics texts from this period demonstrate no discrimination concerning confession in their lists of great preachers and great preaching tips.33 In contrast to the direct contact between the preachers as in Roche’s chapter, Borello traces a line of influence from Catholic eloquence through Protestant preaching manuals. While dealing exclusively with printed material, Borello adroitly demonstrates that ‘the technical nature and the method of sacred eloquence remains more important’ than confessional allegiances for these eighteenth-century Huguenots. Overall, the authors in Léonard’s volume explores important and interesting questions; moreover, the chapters contribute to the wider conversation on confessional issues in France between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Each of the books surveyed in this review offers a unique contribution to its field. Léonard and Sibon’s books are both most helpful in their evaluation of sources—both in evaluating and exploring new material to adjust the discussion in their respective fields. The authors in Léonard’s volume turn the question of clergy relations on its head to look at elements of collaboration or similarity—a tall task in a field that is overly saturated with accounts of confessional conflict. Though perhaps benefiting from its novelty, the contributions in this work certainly swim against the traditional historiographical current. Sibon’s argument takes the delicate subject of antisemitism in medieval France and skilfully resets the discussion to revolve around politics rather than ethnicity and religion. In many ways, her project, though seemingly out of place in this review, fits the general revisionist movement seen here. Furthermore, Sibon deals with the local relations between Jews and their neighbours—relations that often get washed away by legal disputes and theological jeremiads against the Jews in France. Daubresse and Haan’s collection, on the other hand, is most helpful in emphasizing the local fluidity of League allegiance. Though many recent studies have corrected the over-emphasis on the fanatical nature of the League’s members, this volume stands out for its unique focus on the localized expression of Leaguer allegiance tied to apprehension against its radicalism in Paris. Shifting the focus away from Parisian ideology and more towards provincial interaction, the authors in this book have done a great service in connecting their readers to this little-explored field of study. The same can be said for Lougee’s work on family history and the Revocation. Though accounts of Huguenot emigration have been studied extensively, Lougee’s long-form exploration of one family provides an excellent example of the type of deep context that historians ought to understand when analysing heavily edited and carefully framed escape narratives. Finally, Feutry’s survey can serve students well in drawing their attention to the history and continued presence of Huguenots in French history today. His book, though certainly favourable to the Huguenots, is a perfect example of not only the liveliness of Huguenot studies, but also the continued importance of placing them in their historical and literary context. Footnotes 1 C. C. Lougee, Facing the Revocation (New York, 2016), 2; see also R. A. Mentzer and B. van Ruymbeke (eds), A Companion to the Huguenots (Boston, 2016). 2 See, especially, W. S. Browning, The History of the Huguenots during the Sixteenth Century (London, 1829) and H. M. Baird, History of the Rise of the Huguenots (London, 1880). A modern account that suffers from similar, albeit less pronounced, myopia is G. Treasure, The Huguenots (New Haven, 2013). 3 Especially D. Crouzet, Les guerriers de Dieu: la violence au temps des troubles de religion (vers 1525-vers 1610) (Paris, 1990). 4 M. Holt, The French Wars of Religion, 1562–1629 (New York, 2005). 5 R. Knecht, The French Religious Wars 1562–1598 (Oxford, 2002). 6 A. Tallon, Conscience national et sentiment religieux en France au XVIe siècle (Paris, 2002). 7 T. Wanegffelen, Ni Rome ni Genève: Des fidèles entre deux chaires en France au XVIe siècle (Paris, 1997), xvi. 8 L. Racaut, Hated in Print: Catholic Propaganda and Protestant Identity during the French Wars of Religion (Aldershot, 2002); T. Debaggi Baranova, À coups de libelles: Une culture politique au temps des guerres de religion (1562–1598) (Geneva, 2012); H. Daussy, La parti Huguenot: Chronique d’une disillusion (1557–1572) (Paris, 2014); C. Zweirlein, Discorso und Lex Dei: Die Entstehung neuer Denkrahmen im 16. Jahrhundert und die Wahrnehmung der französischen Religionskriege in Italien und Deutschland (Göttingen, 2006). 9 C. C. Lougee, Facing the Revocation, 359. 10 Ibid., 4, 352. 11 Ibid., 3. 12 Ibid., 193. 13 Ibid., 281. 14 Ibid., 160, 359. For one extreme example of triumphant Huguenot escape narratives, see J. Marteilhe, The Memoirs of a Protestant, Condemned to the Galleys of France, For His Religion, trans. J. Willington (Dublin, 1765). 15 D. Feutry, Rebelles de la foi (Paris, 2017), 14–5. 16 Ibid., 16, 23. 17 Ibid., 53, 234. 18 J. Sibon, Chasser les juifs pour régner (Paris, 2016), 132. 19 Ibid., 209. 20 Ibid., 19. 21 Ibid., 95, 105. 22 Ibid., 132. 23 Ibid., 134. 24 S. Daubresse and B. Haan, ‘Aux frontiers de la Ligue’, in La Ligue et ses frontières, ed. S. Daubreese and B. Haan (Rennes, 2015), 13. 25 Ibid., 12. 26 S. Daubresse, ‘Le parlement de Paris pendant la Ligue: entre divisions et prudence’ in La Ligue et ses frontières, ed. S. Daubresse and B. Haan (Rennes, 2015), 73. 27 N. Le Roux, ‘Le service de Dieu et le bien de l’État. Fidélités et engagements nobiliaires en 1589’, in La Ligue et ses frontières, ed. S. Daubresse and B. Haan (Rennes, 2015), 76. 28 L. Racaut, ‘“N’estans chrestiens que de nombre & nom”: Renee Benoist et l’abjuration d’ Henri IV’, in La Ligue et ses frontières, ed. S. Daubresse and B. Haan (Rennes, 2015), 230. 29 G. Bereiter, ‘“Ils ne tendent pas à la defense de votre Eglise”: discerner l’opposition ecclésiastique à la Sainte Union’, in La Ligue et ses frontières, ed. S. Daubresse and B. Haan (Rennes, 2015), 166. 30 C. Ballériaux, ‘“He said, the French taught ‘em, that the Lord Jesus Christ was of the French Nation.” Missions catholiques et calvinistes sur la frontière américaine’, in Prêtres et pasteurs, ed. J. Léonard (Rennes, 2016), 42. 31 C. Roche, ‘Le Verbe divin à l’épreuve de la coexistence. La predication à Vienne à l’époque de Maximilien II (1564–1576)’, in Prêtres et pasteurs, ed. J. Léonard (Rennes, 2016), 147. 32 Ibid., 149. 33 C. Borello, ‘L’art de l’éloquence en chaire comme indice des contacts cléricaux au XVIIIe siècle’, in Prêtres et pasteurs, ed. J. Léonard (Rennes, 2016), 186. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of French History. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
French History – Oxford University Press
Published: May 9, 2018
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