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History Corner





W. H. Hudson On Louis XIV And The French Huguenots: 1685


William Henry Hudson, France: The Nation And Its Development From Earliest Times To The Establishment Of The Third Republic

(London: George G. Harrap & Co.; 1919), pp. 388, 389, 390.


‘On October 22, 1685, a decree was promulgated formally revoking the Edict of Nantes.

By this enactment all civil and religious privileges hitherto enjoyed by the Protestants were cancelled, their ministers were expelled from the country, their schools suppressed, and their temples destroyed.


‘This outrageous measure was followed up by renewed dragonnades and much cruel persecution of the Protestants in all parts of the country, and a little later by a revolt of the Camisards in the Cevennes, which lasted for some years and was not thoroughly crushed until the whole region had been devastated. . . .

[T]his “crowning glory of the King’s reign” was in fact a blunder of the first magnitude as well as an atrocious crime.
Its moral iniquity is too flagrant to require comment. But attention should be directed to its stupidity as revealed by its economic and social bearings.

In spite of severe edicts against emigration, many thousands of Protestants Henri Martin puts the number at from 200,000 to 250,000 fled into England, Holland, and Brandenburg, carrying with them their skill and their knowledge of arts and manufactures to enrich the countries in which they sought asylum at the expense of their native land.

As the industry of France had been largely in Huguenot hands, the effect of this great exodus will be obvious.

Some thousands of the best French soldiers and sailors likewise passed over into the service of other Powers; while a serious loss to the moral strength of the nation was entailed by the withdrawal of so large a body of men having all the sturdy qualities of our own [English] Puritan stock.’