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300-Year-Old Decree Seen Now as Shameful France Recalls Ban of Protestants
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Oct 18, 1985
Start Page: 4
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

There are believed to be 850,000 Protestants in France, 1.5% of the population. A generation or two ago, many Protestants believed that other French citizens looked on them as strange and different. But a recent poll showed that more than 90% of the French regard themselves as either sympathetic or indifferent to Protestants. Only 4% said they felt hostile.

[Henry IV] issued the Edict of Nantes in the hope of ending the religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants in France. For a while, the edict did this. But many Catholics ignored the edict throughout the 17th Century and persecuted Protestants despite its provisions. Churches were burned and Protestants forcibly converted. This led to Protestant rebellion and Catholic reprisals. Nevertheless, though oppressed, the Protestants remained legal.

That changed with Louis XIV's decree revoking the edict. That made it illegal to practice the Protestant religion. The king's soldiers imprisoned Protestant pastors and destroyed their churches. Catholics pillaged and slaughtered. Somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000 Protestants fled the country, a large percentage of the Protestant population.

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