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owing to Colbert's patronage, enjoyed a much greater degree of prosperity than Catholic workmen. Coupled with this condition was the new conception of business which the Huguenots borrowed from Holland, which also tended to make them unpopular. The practice of medieval trade was to make cheaply and to sell dear. The French Protestants, like the Dutch, grew rich on quick sales and small returns or by making low profits on large sales. Moreover the Huguenots chiefly dealt with England and Holland, and the stability of the Dutch currency, which was in favorable contrast with that of France, which varied enormously, was of immense advantage to them. 27
In the conflict against Colbert, the gilds were supported by the notorious Compagnie du Très-Saint-Sacrement, among the least of whose insidious practices was preaching the economic doctrine of boycotting Protestant tradesmen, especially those who had received lettres de maîtrise, many of whose brevets were annulled through pressure brought by the Compagnie upon the king.” It even succeeded in depriving Protestant merchantmen of a market among their fellow-religionists. For example, a Huguenot who had the butcher's privilege at Charenton was compelled to purchase his meats wholesale at the butchery of the Hotel-Dieu, and a fine of 300 livres was imposed upon Protestant butchers who sold meat on fast days even to Protestants.29 It was the purpose of this association to combat the Huguenots by every possible means.
We know today that it inspired the multitude of arrêts issued by the parlements, by the conseil du roi and by the intendants of the provinces, which broke down the stipulated guarantees and privileges of the Edict of Nantes and prepared the way for the revocation at last.
21 For proof of the prejudice this condition of things caused, see Clément, Lettres, Instructions et Mémoires de Colbert, VII. 432, note 4. On the fluctuation of the French currency, see Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV. (ed. Bourgeois), p. 602.
28 For some cases, see Allier, La Cabale des Dévots, pp. 276–278. No Protestant could be a member of the hosier's gild. Levasseur, II. 345, note 2, Edict of August 21, 1665.
29 Allier, La Cabale des Dévots, p. 275. In the minutes of the Compagnie, under date of July 29, 1664, the following may be read: “On représenta qu'il fallait empêcher que les huguenots n'entrassent dans la Compagnie du commerce, et l'on résolut d'y travailler par divers moyens.” Revue Historique, LXXI. 300.
There is an extensive literature on the history of the Compagnie du TrèsSaint-Sacrement. In addition to the work of Allier cited above, see Rabbe, “Une Société Secrète Catholique au XVII° Siècle ", Revue Historique, LXXI. 243–302 ; Leroux, Histoire de la Réforme en Limousin (1888), pp. 122–125, and extracts from the minutes of the Compagnie in the Bulletin de la Société Archéologique du Limousin, XXXIII. 58–76; XLV. 338-416; Archives Historiques du Limousin, I. 240-249. See also Beauchet-Filleau, Le Règne de Jésus-Christ (1884), and P. Ch. Clair, Études Religieuses des Pères de la Compagnie de Jésus (1888–1889).
The king, as his bigotry increased, gradually withdrew his support from his minister. From the moment that the war with the Dutch acquired a religious character and the danger which Holland was experiencing roused against him the feelings of all the Protestant states, it was easy to persuade the king that his Huguenot subjects were the allies of his enemies. No trace of this alliance has ever been found, but it seems possible, even probable. The Venetian ambassador mentions it in speaking of the motives which induced the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, saving that the reformed ministers spoke of it as a possible result of the continuation of hostili
The assembly of the clergy in 1675 had demanded that the Huguenots be no longer employed in such great numbers in the administration of the finances, and that they be completely deprived of the right to farm the revenues, 31 because it ought not to be tolerated that the greater part of the riches of the provinces should pass through their hands. It is not certain that Colbert was opposed to this measure. The clergy assert that he had a hand in it. As a result the Huguenots were excluded from the finances, from farming the revenues and from the navy. They were deprived of municipal offices and barred from public employment in the towns. Finally in 1679 the corps de métier were closed to the Protestants, 32 and all lettres de maîtrise granted them were annulled.33
Up to the present time, no document has been brought to light which positively proves that Colbert was opposed to the persecutions of the Huguenots, and it is probably true that he would not have protested against the revocation.34 We know that he attached great importance to the union between the crown and the clergy which these persecutions rendered more intimate, and while the policy of the king had not reached the extreme limit of intolerance, Colbert must have seen enough to divine what the ultimate
30 The Venetian ambassador alludes to this probability in speaking of the motives which induced Louis XIV. to sign the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. See Ranke, Französiche Geschichte, III. 377, note 2. Cf. Duc de Noailles, Madame de Maintenon, II. 323, note 2.
31 Articles concernant la Religion (1675), art. 44.
Ibid., VI. 125. After Colbert's death the prohibition was extended to surveyors and appraisers (1684); book-sellers, printers, physicians and even apothecaries (1685).
34 Since the publication of Colbert's official papers, there is little room to doubt this. Sans doute Colbert n'eût empeché la révocation de l'Édit de Nantes ", Levasseur, II. 903. St. Simon, however thought otherwise.
“ Colbert, le seul homme qu'il (Louvois) eût pu craindre dans le partage du secret", etc., Parallèle des Trois Premiers Rois Bourbons (ed. Faugère), p. 222. Cf. Mémoires de St. Simon (ed. Chéruel), vol. VIII., ch. XI.
intentions of the king were. Louvois was the man of the hour and was bitterly hostile to the Protestants and economically in favor of the old order of things.35 Colbert's fall from grace assured the victory of the gilds, of local monopoly, of the system of internal tolls and provincial barriers which was not abolished until the Revolution. Economically speaking the revocation of the Edict of Nantes was the triumph of the ancient and immemorial economic régime of France over the modern tendency and more enlightened practices of the new political economy represented by Colbert.
Turning from France to Holland, the country with which the Huguenots had most intimate relations, we find that it was economic interest very largely which led Holland to sympathize with the Huguenots. In fact religious sympathy was never more than niggardly given them by the Dutch.
The bearing of Louis XIV.'s aggressive political course and Colbert's economic tyranny upon the European combination has often been pointed out. But the particular influence of their joint policy toward the United Provinces in shaping the Dutch attitude toward the revocation of the Edict of Nantes deserves to be emphasized. The Edict of Nantes might have been revoked without giving so much umbrage to the Dutch as it did, if Louis XIV. had not obstinately ignored the differences that divided the Calvinist and the Arminian parties in Holland, and associated them in one common condemnation, instead of adopting a conciliatory policy toward the latter and so playing them against the Orange party.
Broadly speaking the Dutch Calvinists were monarchists politically and protectionists economically, while the Arminians were republicans in politics and advocates of free trade or at least reciprocity.36 In the Dutch government at this time the States General
35 Levasseur, II. 953.
38 “ Ils m'avoüerent la foiblesse du Gouvernement présent, me remontrerent l'autorité que le Prince d'Orange usurpoit tous les jours ; le peu d'espérance qu'ils avoient de la pouvoir diminuer sans le secours de Sa Majesté. . . . Je mandai au Roi, que, quoique tous ces discours m'eussent été tenus par des gens bien senséz, je ne m'étois pas pressé d'en informer Sa Majesté, puisque c'étoient à peu près les mêmes choses, que j'avois déja eu l'honneur de lui mander de la part de ce fameux Republicain, mais que je me croyois enfin obligé de la faire, d'autant plus que deux des plus riches et des plus considérables Marchands de Hollande, dont il y en avoit un qui étoit depuis très-long-tems dans le Gouvernement de sa Ville, m'étoient venus trouver la veille, et m'avoient tenu à-peu-près le même langage, qui, quoique très-contraire aux intentions de Sa Majesté, m'avoit paru de si grande conséquence, que je n'avois pas cru pouvoir me dispenser d'en rendre compte: qu'ils m'avoient témoigné, que si Sa Majesté vouloit attacher pour toûjours, et indispensablement, les États-Généraux à la France, et faire même entrer ses Sujets en part du commerce des ÉtatsGénéraux ".... D'Avaux, I. 69-70, March 13, 1681.
was hostile to the house of Orange politically and economically and many of the members were Arminian in faith as well. Thus the States General was inclined toward France, for they saw in Louis XIV. a make-weight against the growing power of William of Orange and were indifferent to the French king's coercion of his Protestant subjects.37
One serious source of disagreement between the States General and William was the reduction of the army and navy after the peace of Nimwegen, when the Republican party, led by the magistrates of Amsterdam, compelled the disbandment of 6,000 newly raised troops.38 Their ascendancy might have continued if Louis XIV. had not repulsed their overtures, and if William, whose chief aim was to alienate the States General from its French sympathy, had not inflamed the popular mind over Louis XIV.'s policy toward the Huguenots.39
The backbone of the Arminian party was the wealthy merchant class of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leyden, Delft and Dordrecht, whose political convictions and sense of thrift made them resent any increase of the power of the stadtholder. They were indifferent to the cause of the Huguenots, until they saw their course was alienating a great many lukewarm Republicans, as well as some of their own party, who otherwise would not have fallen away from France.40 They looked ahead to the possible succession of William of Orange to the throne of England. Many of them thought that if the Prince of Orange succeeded to the English crown, he would instantly propose a league to the States General for the support of the Huguenots; that he would be the first to enter into a war against France and could so sway public opinion in the Netherlands as to force the States General and the Arminian party by his policy.41
37 D'Avaux, I. 79, July 31, 1681. Cf. Ségur-Dupeyron, Négociations Commerciales et Maritimes au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècles, II. 144-145.
38 This proposal was the subject of a violent and protracted altercation between William of Orange and the States General. Cf. D'Avaux, I. 127-128, 172173, 179, 181–182; II. 29, 79, 93, 114, 121-122.
39 Ibid., IV. When the Edict of June 17, 1681, which reduced from fourteen years to seven the age of discretion at which Protestant children might elect to follow the Catholic faith (“Les rapts d'enfants protestants furent en effet autorisés par cette déclaration ", Puaux, La Responsabilité de la Révocation de l'Édit de Nantes ", Revue Historique, XXIX. 263), was translated and spread broadcast over Holland it produced a great impression. Even Friesland and Groningen, provinces least under William's control, began to lean towards him. D'Avaux, I. 77, July 24, 1681.
40 Ibid., IV. 160, March 22, 1685. 41 Ibid., IV. 161, March 22, 1685.
D'Avaux warned Louis XIV. in vain of the drift of public opinion against France in Holland. On March 22, 1685, he wrote as follows:
True it is that the affairs of religion in France have disappointed some classes of the people at Amsterdam, but they have not made so much impression upon the mind of the magistrates of that city in general as to make them alter their conduct. I am nevertheless obliged to tell Your Majesty that the preachers and the accounts which are sent from France have irritated them so much that I do not know what the consequences will be.“ Finally in September, 1685, the inevitable happened and the Arminian party utterly yielded to the Prince of Orange.
The violent economic policy of Louis XIV. and Colbert played the largest part in this alienation of the Arminian party by France. As Louis XIV. ignored the religious difference between the Calvinists and the Arminians, so he refused until too late to recognize the economic antagonism between the Orange-Calvinist party, who believed in Dutch tariffs, and the Arminians, who advocated reciprocity with France. If Louis XIV. and his minister had been willing to abate their commercial tyranny, the suffering of the Huguenots would have found less sympathy in Holland.44 But,
, like his sovereign, Colbert was a man of one idea. He rejected the overtures of the States General and his commercial tyranny finally drove the merchants of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities into the camp of William of Orange.
The king was warned in vain of the inevitable result of his policy. “The fewer causes of uneasiness they (Amsterdam merchants) have concerning their vessels ", wrote D'Avaux, "the less inclined they will be to engage in certain affairs which perhaps they may be obliged to do for the sake of getting the consent of the towns that belong to the Prince of Orange for re-establishing of the marine.' The merchants of Amsterdam too late had discovered that their parsimony in resisting the enlargement of the Dutch marine now exposed them to French aggression on the high seas, and William took advantage of the situation to play a deep
He turned a deaf ear to their entreaties for protection, and refused to consider any enlargement of the Dutch fleet. His eyes were fixed upon England. He was determined to compel the
“? D'Avaux, IV. 160, March 22, 1685.
43 “ Le Roi approuva fort ce que j'avois insinué à Messieurs d'Amsterdam au sujet de l'espérance qu'ils ont de tirer du Roi de nouveaux avantages pour leur Commerce.” Ibid., V. 24, Lettre du Roi, du 7 Juin, 1685.
* Ibid., IV. 160, March 22, 1685.