The EDICT OF NANTES (French : édit de Nantes), signed in April 1598
Henry IV of France
Edict of St. Germain , promulgated 36 years before by Catherine
de Médici , had granted limited tolerance to Huguenots but was
overtaken by events, as it was not formally registered until after the
Massacre of Vassy on 1 March 1562, which triggered the first of the
French Wars of Religion
Edict of Fontainebleau
* 1 Background * 2 The Edict * 3 Revocation * 4 Literal translation * 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 Sources * 8 External links
Edict aimed primarily to end the long-running, disruptive French
Wars of Religion . Henry IV also had personal reasons for supporting
the Edict. Prior to assuming the throne in 1589 he had espoused
Protestantism, and he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause: he
had converted to
Re-establishing royal authority in
The two letters patent supplementing the
Edict granted the
Protestants safe havens (places de sûreté), which were military
strongholds such as
While it granted certain privileges to Huguenots, the edict upheld
Catholicism's position as the established religion of France.
Protestants gained no exemption from paying the tithe and had to
respect Catholic holidays and restrictions regarding marriage. The
authorities limited Protestant freedom of worship to specified
geographic areas. The
Edict dealt only with Protestant and Catholic
coexistence; it made no mention of Jews , or of Muslims , who were
offered temporary asylum in
The original Act which promulgated the
Edict has disappeared. The
Archives Nationales in Paris preserves only the text of a shorter
document modified by concessions extracted from the King by the clergy
Parlement of Paris , which delayed ten months before finally
signing and setting seals to the document in 1599. A copy of the first
edict, sent for safekeeping to Protestant
The location of the signing is mooted. The
Edict itself states merely
that it is "given at
Edict of Fontainebleau
Edict remained unaltered in effect, registered by the parliaments
as "fundamental and irrevocable law," with the exception of the
brevets, which had been granted for a period of eight years, and were
renewed by Henry in 1606 and in 1611 by Marie de Médecis , who
Edict within a week of the assassination of Henry,
stilling Protestant fears of another St. Bartholomew\'s Day massacre .
The subsidies had been reduced by degrees, as Henry gained more
control of the nation. By the peace of Montpellier in 1622,
During the remainder of Louis XIII's reign, and especially during the
minority of Louis XIV, the implementation of the
Edict varied year by
year, voiced in declarations and orders, and in case decisions in the
Council, fluctuating according to the tides of domestic politics and
the relations of
In October 1685, Louis XIV , the grandson of Henry IV, renounced the
Edict and declared Protestantism illegal with the
Fontainebleau . This act, commonly called the 'revocation of the Edict
of Nantes,' had very damaging results for France. While the wars of
religion did not re-ignite, intense persecution of
place. All Protestant ministers were given two weeks to leave the
country unless they converted to
Freedom to worship and civil rights for non-Catholics in
Henri, by the grace of God king of
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 by 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....
III. We ordain that the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion shall be restored and reëstablished 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 called 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 called Reformed, holding the right of high justice , 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 by 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 called Reformed, upon penalty of being punished with especial severity....
XXI. Books concerning the said religion called 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.
* ^ In 1898, the tricentennial celebrated the edict as the
foundation of the coming Age of Toleration; the 1998 anniversary, by
contrast, was commemorated with a book of essays under the evocatively
ambivalent title, Coexister dans l'intolérance (Michel Grandjean and
Bernard Roussel, editors, Geneva, 1998).
* ^ A detailed chronological account of the negotiations that led
to the Edict's promulgation has been offered by Janine Garrisson,
L'Édit de Nantes: Chronique d'une paix attendue (Paris: Fayard) 1998.
* ^ A B George A. Rothrock, Jr., "Some Aspects of Early Bourbon
Policy toward the Huguenots" Church History 29.1 (March 1960:17–24)
* ^ Texts published in Benoist 1693 I:62–98 (noted by Rothrock).
* ^ For Eastern Europe, see Mehmed II\'s Firman on the Freedom of
the Bosnian Franciscans or the
Warsaw Confederation .
* ^ The King engaged to support the Protestant ministers in part
* ^ The ordonnance of 22 February 1610 stipulated that the emigrés
settle north of the
The source followed by most modern historians is the
* The Edict of