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Edict of Nantes

The Edict of Nantes, establishing the legal toleration of Calvinism in Roman Catholic France, was authorised by King Henry IV on Apr. 13, 1598.

It resulted from hard bargaining with the Huguenots (Calvinists) and marked the end of the Wars of Religion.

The edict declared liberty of conscience and equality of legal and educational rights. It allowed French Protestants to hold government office and provided special courts to adjudicate disputes between the faiths. The Protestants were given control of certain fortress towns, such as La Rochelle, whose garrisons were paid by the crown. Protestant public worship was allowed in these and other specified towns. Calvinist synods could be held with royal permission.

In the Peace of Ales (1629), which followed three revolts by the Huguenots, Cardinal Richelieu modified the edict; the Huguenots lost their capacity for armed self-defence.

On Oct. 18, 1685, Louis XIV withdrew the edict and declared France entirely Catholic.


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