A profound sense of urgency pervaded the debate on the third major topic of the historical controversy, the causes and nature of the French civil wars. The discussions of the Reformation and the Reformers had evoked a passionate response, but the historical controversy over the wars raised the level of passion to new heights. The debate opened with the appearance of Maimbourg’s history of Calvinism in 1682. Up to that time the polemical literature contained allusions to the wars, but no detailed analysis of them. By the early eighties, however, the prospects of the Reformed had gone from bad to worse. The government had severely eroded their privileges, as outlined in the Edict of Nantes, and the revocation of the Edict seemed likely, if not certain. Since the civil wars had brought the Edict into being, Catholics felt that a true picture of the wars would help those with troubled consciences to grasp the necessity of its revocation, while the Reformed, of course, hoped for the opposite result from their version of the story. Even after the Revocation, the debate continued with equal fervor, since, to keep the newly-converted firm in their resolve, ammunition against the literature coming into France from the “Refuge” was needed; and the Reformed always hoped that what the King had taken away he might some day restore.


Historical Argument Lettre Pastorale Political Origin Historical Controversy Equal Fervor 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Israels Perry

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