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The Edict of Fontainebleau

(or the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes).

October 22, 1685


Louis, by the grace of God, king of France and Navarre, to all present and to come, greeting:

King Henry the Great, our grandfather of glorious memory, being desirous that the peace which he had procured for his subjects after the grievous losses they had sustained in the course of domestic and foreign wars, should not be troubled on account of the R.P.R. [Religion prétendue réformée -- "the religion called the Reformed"], as had happened in the reigns of the kings, his predecessors, by his edict, granted at Nantes in the month of April, 1598, regulated the procedure to be adopted with regard to those of the said religion, and the places in which they might meet for public worship, established extraordinary judges to administer justice to them, and, in fine, provided in particular articles for whatever could be thought necessary for maintaining the tranquility of his kingdom and for diminishing mutual aversion between the members of the two religions, so as to put himself in a better position to labor, as he had resolved to do, for the reunion to the Church of those who had so lightly withdrawn from it.

As the intention of the king, our grandfather, was frustrated by his sudden death, and as the execution of the said edict was interrupted during the minority of the late king, our most honored lord and father of glorious memory, by new encroachments on the part of the adherents of the said R.P.R., which gave occasion for their being deprived of divers advantages accorded to them by the said edict; nevertheless the king, our late lord and father, in the exercise of his usual clemency, granted them yet another edict at Nimes, in July, 1629, by means of which, tranquility being established anew, the said late king, animated by the same spirit and the same zeal for religion as the king, our said grandfather, had resolved to take advantage of this repose to attempt to put his said pious design into execution. But foreign wars having supervened soon after, so that the kingdom was seldom tranquil from 1635 to the truce concluded in 1684 with the powers of Europe, nothing more could be done for the advantage of religion beyond diminishing the number of places for the public exercise of the R.P.R., interdicting such places as were found established to the prejudice of the dispositions made by the edicts, and suppressing of the bi-partisan courts, these having been appointed provisionally only.

God having at last permitted that our people should enjoy perfect peace, we, no longer absorbed in protecting them from our enemies, are able to profit by this truce (which we have ourselves facilitated), and devote our whole attention to the means of accomplishing the designs of our said grandfather and father, which we have consistently kept before us since our succession to the crown.

And now we perceive, with thankful acknowledgment of God's aid, that our endeavors have attained their proposed end, inasmuch as the better and the greater part of our subjects of the said R.P.R. have embraced the Catholic faith. And since by this fact the execution of the Edict of Nantes and of all that has ever been ordained in favor of the said R.P.R. has been rendered nugatory, we have determined that we can do nothing better, in order wholly to obliterate the memory of the troubles, the confusion, and the evils which the progress of this false religion has caused in this kingdom, and which furnished occasion for the said edict and for so many previous and subsequent edicts and declarations, than entirely to revoke the said Edict of Nantes, with the special articles granted as a sequel to it, as well as all that has since been done in favor of the said religion.

I. Be it known that for these causes and others us hereunto moving, and of our certain knowledge, full power, and royal authority, we have, by this present perpetual and irrevocable edict, suppressed and revoked, and do suppress and revoke, the edict of our said grandfather, given at Nantes in April, 1598, in its whole extent, together with the particular articles agreed upon in the month of May following, and the letters patent issued upon the same date; and also the edict given at Nimes in July, 1629; we declare them null and void, together with all concessions, of whatever nature they may be, made by them as well as by other edicts, declarations, and orders, in favor of the said persons of the R.P.R., the which shall remain in like manner as if they had never been granted ; and in consequence we desire, and it is our pleasure, that all the temples of those of the said R.P.R. situate in our kingdom, countries, territories, and the lordships under our crown, shall be demolished without delay.

II. We forbid our subjects of the R.P.R. to meet any more for the exercise of the said religion in any place or private house, under any pretext whatever excuse it can be, even of real exercises or bailliages, even though the aforementioned exercises would have been maintained by the rulings of our council.

III. We likewise forbid all noblemen, of what condition soever, to hold such religious exercises in their houses or fiefs, under penalty to be inflicted upon all our said subjects who shall engage in the said exercises, of imprisonment and confiscation.

IV. We enjoin all ministers of the said R.P.R., who do not choose to become converts and to embrace the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion, to leave our kingdom and the territories subject to us within a fortnight of the publication of our present edict, without leave to reside therein beyond that period, or, during the said fortnight, to engage in any preaching, exhortation, or any other function, on pain of being sent to the galleys. . . .

V.   Let us want that those the aforementioned Ministers who will be converted, continue to enjoy their lasting life, and their widows later them death, whereas they will be in viduity of the same exemptions of size and flat of war people, which they enjoyed while they made the function of Ministers, and besides, we shall charge auxdits Ministers also their lasting life, one pension which will be of a third stronger than the salaries which they got as Ministers, as half of which pension his women will also enjoy after their death, as long as they will live in viduity.

VI. That if any of the aforementioned Ministers wish to be made lawyer or to take the degrees of doctor in law, we want and hear that they are exempted from three years of studies prescribed by our declarations ; and that having undergone the common exams, and by these to be considered capable, they are received doctors by paying only half of the rights that we accustomed to perceive for this end in each University.

VII. We forbid private schools for the instruction of children of the said R.P.R., and in general all things whatever which can be regarded as a concession of any kind in favor of the said religion.

VIII. As for children who may be born of persons of the said R.P.R., we desire that from henceforth they be baptized by the parish priests. We enjoin parents to send them to the churches for that purpose, under penalty of five hundred livres fine, to be increased as circumstances may demand; and thereafter the children shall be brought up in the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion, which we expressly enjoin the local magistrates to see done.

IX. And in the exercise of our clemency towards our subjects of the said R.P.R. who have emigrated from our kingdom, lands, and territories subject to us, previous to the publication of our present edict, it is our will and pleasure that in case of their returning within the period of four months from the day of the said publication, they may, and it shall be lawful for them to, again take possession of their property, and to enjoy the same as if they had all along remained there: on the contrary, the property abandoned by those who, during the specified period of four months, shall not have returned into our kingdom, lands, and territories subject to us, shall remain and be confiscated in consequence of our declaration of the 20th of August last.

X. We repeat our most express prohibition to all our subjects of the said R.P.R., together with their wives and children, against leaving our kingdom, lands, and territories subject to us, or transporting their goods and effects therefrom under penalty, as respects the men, of being sent to the galleys, and as respects the women, of imprisonment and confiscation.

XI. It is our will and intention that the declarations rendered against the relapsed shall be executed according to their form and tenor.

XII. As for the rest, liberty is granted to the said persons of the R.P.R., pending the time when it shall please God to enlighten them as well as others, to remain in the cities and places of our kingdom, lands, and territories subject to us, and there to continue their commerce, and to enjoy their possessions, without being subjected to molestation or hindrance on account of the said R.P.R., on condition of not engaging in the exercise of the said religion, or of meeting under pretext of prayers or religious services, of whatever nature these may be, under the penalties above mentioned of imprisonment and confiscation. This do we give in charge to our trusty and well-beloved counselors, etc.

Given at Fontainebleau in the month of October, in the year of grace 1685, and of our reign the forty-third.

_______________
The earlier Edict of Nantes had granted religious toleration to the Protestant Huguenots (after persecutions against them in France), which was revoked by the above edict of Fontainbleau. The Huguenots had been struggling for religious freedom and liberty of conscience, and were condemned as 'heretics' by the Papacy and King Louis.


The Edict of Nantes (1598)


EXCERPTS:

 

Henry, by the grace of God king of France and of Navarre, to all to whom these presents come, greeting:

Among the infinite benefits which it has pleased God to heap upon us, the most signal and precious is his granting us the strength and ability to withstand the fearful disorders and troubles which prevailed on our advent in this kingdom. The realm was so torn by innumerable factions and sects that the most legitimate of all the parties was fewest in numbers. God has given us strength to stand out against this storm; we have finally surmounted the waves and made our port of safety, -- peace for our state. For which his be the glory all in all, and ours a free recognition of his grace in making use of our instrumentality in the good work. . . . We implore and await from the Divine Goodness the same protection and favor which he has ever granted to this kingdom from the beginning. . . .

We have, by this perpetual and irrevocable edict. established and proclaimed and do establish and proclaim :

I. First, that the recollection of everything done be one party or the other, between March, 1585 and our accession to the crown, and during all the preceding period of troubles, remain obliterated and forgotten, as if no such things had ever happened....

II. We forbid on all our subjects, of some state and quality that they are, to renew the memory, to attack, to feel, to scold, nor to provoke each other by reproach of what took place, for some cause and excuse whether it is, to compete for it, to to dispute,  quarrel nor offend itself or take offence actually or at word, but contain itself and live peacefully together as brothers, friends and fellow countrymen, on punishment to the offenders to be punished as infracteurs of peace and troublemakers of the public rest.

III. We ordain that the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion shall be restored and reestablished in all places and localities of this our kingdom and countries subject to our sway, where the exercise of the same has been interrupted, in order that it may be peaceably and freely exercised, without any trouble or hindrance: forbidding very expressly all persons, of whatsoever estate, quality, or condition, from troubling, molesting, or disturbing ecclesiastics in the celebration of divine service, in the enjoyment or collection of tithes, fruits, or revenues of their benefices, and all other rights and dues belonging to them: and that all those who during the troubles have taken possession of churches. houses, goods or revenues, belonging to the said ecclesiastics, shall surrender to them entire possession and peaceable enjoyment of such rights, liberties, and sureties as they had before they were deprived of them.

VI. And in order to leave no occasion for troubles or differences between our subjects, we have permitted, and herewith permit, those of the said religion pretended Reformed to live and abide in all the cities and places of this our kingdom and countries of our sway, without being annoyed, molested, or compelled to do anything in the matter of religion contrary to their consciences, . . . upon condition that they comport themselves in other respects according to that which is contained in this our present edict.

VII. It is permitted to all lords, gentlemen, and other persons making profession of the said religion pretended Reformed, holding the right of high justice [or a certain feudal tenure], to exercise the said religion in their houses.

IX. We also permit those of the said religion to make and continue the exercise of the same in all villages and places of our dominion where it was established by them and publicly enjoyed several and divers times in the year 1597, up to the end of the month of August, notwithstanding all decrees and judgments to the contrary.

XIII. We very expressly forbid to all those of the said religion its exercise, either in respect to ministry, regulation, discipline, or the public instruction of children, or otherwise, in this our kingdom and lands of our dominion, otherwise than in the places permitted and granted by the present edict.

XIV. It is forbidden as well to perform any function of the said religion in our court or retinue, or in our lands and territories beyond the mountains, or in our city of Paris. or within five leagues of the said city.

XVIII. We also forbid all our subjects, of whatever quality and condition, from carrying off be force or persuasion, against the will of their parents, the children of the said religion, in order to cause them to be baptized or confirmed in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church; and the same is forbidden to those of the said religion pretended Reformed, upon penalty of being punished with especial severity.

XXI. Books concerning the said religion pretended Reformed may not be printed and publicly sold, except in cities and places where the public exercise of the said religion is permitted.

XXII. We ordain that there shall be no difference or distinction made in respect to the said religion, in receiving pupils to be instructed in universities, colleges, and schools; nor in receiving the sick and poor into hospitals, retreats and public charities.

XXIII. Those of the said religion pretended Reformed shall be obliged to respect the laws of the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church, recognized in this our kingdom, for the consummation of marriages contracted, or to be contracted, as regards the degrees of consanguinity and kinship.

 

Signed: HENRY.

And below: by king, being in his council, FORGET.

 

And seal of the big scel of green wax, on lakes of red and green silk. Read, published and registrated, heard and this authorizing, the general prosecutor of King, in parliament in Paris on February 25th, 1599. Signed: VOYSIN.

Read, published and recorded in the Chamber of the Accounts, heard and this authorizing the Attorney General of the King, the last day of March 1599. Signed: FOUNTAIN.

Read, published and recorded, heard and this authorizing the Attorney General of the King, in Paris in the Court of the Aides, April 30, 1599. Signed: BERNARD.


As regards those they call heretics, namely the enemies of the Papacy, they are accused of the most horrid crimes in the world, in order to tarnish their reputation further ... From the moment the bishop of Rome declared himself to be the universal leader of the Church, there has been people of all kind ... who have denounced ... the corporeal and spiritual tyranny of the Popes.

If call martyrs those who were executed one by one by justice, what shall we call so many thousands of excellent figures who were martyred in one fell swoop, not by one executioner, but by a multitude of commoners whose swords were the plaintiffs, witnesses, judges, sentences and executioners of the strangest cruelties that have ever been perpetrated against the Church?
- Simon Goulard, on the St. Bartholemew Day Massacre of the Huguenots
in the Histoire des Martyrs

Since those times have we seen more horrendous butchery and more cruel persecutions exerted against the Saints? It is true that medieval persecutions cannot be compared to those of Nero, Domitian, Decius or Diocletian; because the latter were but physical, whereas the former were spiritual as well as physical. The first persecutions were interspersed, and lasted but a few months, or a few years. But the medieval ones continued unabated for several centuries. The first ones took several thousand martyrs, whereas the later ones took innumerable multitudes. A chronicler counts 17 thousand Christians killed in one month under Diocletian. While Bellarmine ... counts 100 000 Albigensians killed in one day under the Papacy of Innocent III. - Nicolas Vignier, L'Antichrist Romain


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