The Camisard War

In 1685, after French Protestants had been persecuted for many years, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had allowed them to exist. Protestantism was prohibited in the Kingdom; temples were destroyed; pastors were exiled or executed; and Protestant worship was prohibited. Some Protestants abdicated., but most of them had a double religious behavior, being officially Catholic while actually and unofficially still Protestants. All were claiming for freedom of religion and conscience. Many will remain consciously and voluntarily nonviolent, but others will use weapons. Of these, especially young people who had only known persecution and humiliation.

 

In 1702, a local insurgency broke out in the Cevennes: the Camisard War. Bands of peasants rebelled, practicing guerrilla warfare as well as pitched battles against royal troops. Their simple demands: freedom of worship and of conscience.

 

Despite being much fewer in numbers and having less military training and equipment, they held in check the best royal troops commanded by the King’s best officers.

 

Marshal Villars, aware that a military victory was out of his reach, divided the Camisard troops through false promises, assuring them that Louis XIV would restore freedom of worship.

 

In 1789, this rebellion, coupled with other forms of Protestant resistance, finally led to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which stated that no-one could be harassed about his religious or political opinions (it was authored by the Constituent Assembly, which included many Protestants and was chaired by a pastor).

 



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