The Context of the Debate
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In his memoirs for the year 1661, Louis XIV described for the benefit of his son his policy towards the French Protestants. He considered it an evil that so many of his subjects were of the “Religion Prétendue Réformée,” and he claimed to have formulated, as early as 1661, a plan to reunite them to the Catholic Church. To explain his plan, Louis drew a rapid sketch of the history of the Reformation. He attributed the Reformation to abuses of Church discipline by certain ecclesiastics; these infractions of the rules, he said, aroused justified complaints from concerned men, but when these men extended their protest to the sphere of doctrine, they inflicted upon the Church the wounds of heresy and schism. The protests began on a small scale, but soon grew to alarming proportions. When in Germany a bold and violent man was pushed too hard, an honest retreat was no longer possible, the battle lines were drawn, and the Reformers began to question everything they had accepted before. The masses, attracted by an easy road to salvation and led astray by love of novelty, became involved. Interests of state brought princes into the quarrel. The wars in Germany and France hardened the hearts of the reforming party, and the poor among them ceased to doubt the cause for which they were risking their lives.
KeywordsHistorical Question Historical Debate Political Tactic Lettre Pastorale Theological Argument
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