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Facing the Revocation

Carolyn Chappell Lougee
Oxford University Press
This book tells the story of one French Protestant (Huguenot) family, the Robillard de Champagné, as it faced Louis XIV’s Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which criminalized their religion in 1685. Through this story it challenges the way Huguenot history has been told for three hundred years, ever since the Huguenots themselves set its principal interpretive lines, and offers new insights into the reign of Louis XIV. It denies the standard ascription of deeper faith to Huguenots who emigrated and venal motives to those who remained, showing how complex the considerations were — at once social, familial, economic, and political as well as religious — that impelled individuals and families either to leave the country or convert to the king’s religion. It uses evidence on escapes from France to question how intent Louis XIV was on stopping Huguenots from leaving and how closely he and his agents hewed to the letter of the law prescribing imprisonment for captured fugitives. The personal stories of several families among the Champagné’s social set who stayed after the Revocation shed new light on the possibilities for Protestant resistance and on the satisfactions other than venal available to families that complied with the king’s will. This book extends the Champagné story into the Refuge, where it uses the experience of Marie de La Rochefoucauld de Champagné and her children to suggest how traditional was Huguenots’ cultural adaptation, and how strongly the values they brought with them from France shaped their experiences in changed circumstances.
Carolyn Lougee Chappell is Frances and Charles Field Professor in History, Emerita.