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Two later events have dulled our perception of the bitter religious struggles in the Pays de Vaud between 1528 and 1559: the Treaty of Lausanne (1564), which settled the political fight over Vaud, and the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), which united the Reformed churches theologically. With the Treaty of Lausanne, the duke of Savoy ceded Vaud definitively to Bern in return for the Chablais and the Pays de Gex, which the Bernese had also conquered in 1536. Until this treaty was signed, there had always remained a strong possibility that Vaud would be returned to Savoyard rule and the Catholic faith. This possibility, in turn, determined Calvinism’s first objective in the battle for Vaud: to turn the people away from Catholic beliefs and practices and toward the Reformed faith. It was a difficult struggle. There had been little discontent with the church in Vaud before the Reformation, and during Bern’s 1536 conquest of the region, the people submitted on the condition that they be allowed to continue to practice the old faith. The Bernese reneged before the year was over. Forced by the new government to convert to Protestantism, the Vaudois people showed little genuine enthusiasm for the new religion and were encouraged in their recalcitrance, first, by the former Catholic clergy, who were allowed to remain in the region if they agreed to accept the Reformation, second, by the promise of a general council, and third, by the ever-present possibility that the Bernese would be forced through international diplomacy or foreign invasion to return Vaud to Savoy. With the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, it has been too easy to forget that it was not until the Treaty of Lausanne that the Pays de Vaud’s future was secured as a Swiss Protestant territory.
KeywordsReligious Minority General Council Catholic Faith Temporal Society Catholic Clergy
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