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Edict of Fontainebleau

The Edict of Fontainebleau (October 1685) was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France. This legislation revoked the Edict of Nantes (1598) and ordered the destruction of Huguenot churches, as well as the closing of Protestant schools. As a result, a large number of Protestants – estimates range from 200,000 to 500,000 – left France over the next two decades, seeking asylum in England, the United Provinces, Denmark, and what are now Germany and the United States. (Spielvogel). Louis XIV's pious second wife Mme de Maintenon was a strong advocate of Protestant persecution and urged Louis to revoke Henri IV's edict; her confessor and spiritual advisor, François de la Chaise must be held largely responsible.

This Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, as it is also commonly called, has been criticized in a manner similar to criticism of the Nazi Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition, although in fact the action merely restored the state of affairs in France to that of virtually every other European country of the period, where only the majority state religion was tolerated. The experiment of religious toleration in Europe was effectively ended for the time being. In practice, the revocation caused France to suffer a kind of early brain drain, as it lost a large number of skilled craftsmen, including key designers such as Daniel Marot. Upon leaving France, Huguenots took with them knowledge of important techniques and styles -- which had a significant effect on the quality of the silk, plate glass, silversmithing (see: Huguenot silver ), and cabinet-making industries of those regions to which they relocated.

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Last updated: 10-18-2005 13:49:20
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