France under Louis XIV., 1661-1715: Domestic Policy Savoy, 1660-1730

France : Dragonnades, 1681-1686

In 1685 King Louis XIV. of France - he earlier had himself declared the Protector of Catholicism - formally revoked the Edict of Nantes. French dragoons, already in 1681, were ordered to evict French protestants. The Dragonnard campaigns were conducted for the next number of years and caused ten thousands of Huguenots, Waldensians (in French : Vaudois; in the Alpine regions bordering on Savoy), Lutherans (from the Alsace) to emigrate, others nominally to convert to Catholicism. Some were arrested, sentenced and sent to the galleys. In most cases the Dragonnards met no resistance, but in some areas, such as the Waldensian valleys, actual military campaigns were fought. On January 17th 1686, Louis XIV claimed that out of a Protestant population of 800,000 to 900,000, only 1,000 to 1,500 had remained in France.
Louis XIV. pressured Duke Victor Amadeus II. of Savoy to permit extending the Dragonnade campaigns onto Savoyard territory, where other Waldensian communities were forced to emigrate (1686). Here a small community managed to return a few years later, gaining recognition by the Duke in a 1690 treaty.
Soon after, the War of the Grand Alliance broke out (1689-1697); French troops, which fought foreign enemies, no longer could harass their own religious minorities. While a significant segment of the French protestant community had emigrated, in a number of regions, core communities continued to exist (Louis XIV.'s figures were exaggerated). In the early 18th century, the Camisards would continue in their resistance.

Article Dragonnades, from Columbia Encyclopedia
Chronologie Protestante, from Huguenots Picards
Some Notes on the Waldensian Church, from giveshare
Article Waldensians, Article Louis XIV., scroll down for L. and the Protestants, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Protestantism in the Waldensian Valleys, by J.A. Wylie (1878) (The History of Protestantism, ch.16)
Protestantism in France from the Death of Henry IV. to the Revolution (1789), by J.A. Wylie, 1878 (The History of Protestantism, ch.22)
DOCUMENTS Les Dragonnades (1685), from Prof. Claire Dolan, Univ. Laval; in French
Les Dragonnades, contemporary sketch, posted by L'Edit de Nantes, " 400 ans a la conquete de l'esprit de tolerance "
Texte sur la Revocation de l'Edit de Nantes en France (1685), from cliotexte, 4 docs, 1 on the dragonnades, in French

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First posted on June 13th 2003, last revised on November 19th 2004

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