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The Edict of Nantes: Coexister dans l'intolérance

Reviewed on April 30, 1998

Current teaching duties will make it impossible to try to capture here the richness and erudition of this special international volume on the Edict of Nantes, published by the Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme français, and as a book by the publisher Labor et Fides, under the title Coexister dans l'intolérance; but a rapid survol seems indispensable as we all look at our notes and thoughts when teaching the history of the Edict of Nantes this spring, 400 years later. Known for centuries more as a lieu contesté than as a place for celebration, and rightly so, it is now apparent that it can be more deeply understood still, and reflected upon, as a moment in which beliefs, communities and powers may be perceived and assessed in a historically grounded atmosphere that makes "conflict resolution" a subject for historical understanding within a society every bit as important as the great peaces of Augsburg and Westphalia, and beyond.

The authors of the articles in this 544-page volume testify to the complexity of understanding the Edict and the circumstances in which it was drafted and signed. As if this were not enough, the articles on the history of historical thinking about the Edict in France and Europe down to the present are a remarkable testimony to the usually quite positivist and triumphalist attitude of historians in France, eager to pursue one or another type of "new" history. Reading this volume is exhilarating and humbling, but not edifying in any way, save as history as a wellspring of understanding human experience in all its complexity.

Jean-Louis Bourgeon opens the volume by exploring the problem of the exact date when the Edict became an edict. He does not address the usual problem of registration in the parlements, but rather explores whether the 13th or the 30th of April is the more appropriate date. Showing the enormous stakes for the king and his subjects as revealed by the differences in the dates, Bourgeon explores the need for secrecy, the need for knowing how different constituted groups in the realm would respond, particularly the Huguenot Assembly in Chatellerault. Brittany had only recently accepted re-integration into the realm; negotiations with Spain were at a critical stage, requiring secrecy, certainly. Bourgeon makes the case for considering April 30 as the preferred date, but that is less the matter at hand than the creation of the atmosphere of tension and high stakes that he creates through a minute reading of the principal sources. And, instead of being like so many previous attempts at peace, Nantes was about religion, not just pacification (p. 42). The phrase, "L'histoire tient toujours dans le refus de la simplification" (p. 49) merits being engraved on the ceilings of the glitzy hotel rooms where we often read our papers at professional meetings.

Philip Benedict's essay reviews the condition in which the reformed churches found themselves up to 1598, and he finds another type of significant complexity; islands where Huguenots were really free of possible attacks on church-going were rare indeed (La Rochelle and the Cévennes); others where they had really lost the possibility to assemble; and the intermediary, largely typical range of constant insecurity and moderate security. Beginning in 1589-91, greater and greater numbers were allowed to assemble, certainly as a result of Henry IV's policy (p. 66). This is not to suggest, however, that Huguenot communities felt largely secure before the Edict; it was more a larger, quite culminating step toward establishing rights to assemble. The statistical studies of assemblies accompanying the article support the conclusion that the early years of Henry's reign had been a major turning point.

Marianne Carbonnier-Burkard does some close reading of the preambles of the pacification edits. She begins by noting that they were ordonnances, i.e., lois du roi en forme de lettres patentes, that is, open letters addressed to all and destined to be registered in sovereign courts. The terms "troubles," " desordres" and "calamitez" are placed in a framework that embodies royal authority in the form of ripe deliberation and desire for peace. By looking over the whole genre, the author discerns that terms such as "heresy" and "heretic" are abandoned and that the turn to the phrase "R.P.R.," with its mixture of derision and recognition as religion, makes its appearance. One striking usage involves meetings of theologians of both parties, which are called a "bon, sainct, libre et général ou national concile" (p. 90).

The provisionary character of lettres patentes, even though they carry words such as "irrevocable et perpetual," is understood quite brilliantly by general examination of the very nature of the letters patent in the Monarchy's range of instruments — since the 14th century — which another ordonnance could replace or declare null and void. As the author puts it: "Bref, pour les légistes des rois de France, comme pour les fidèles bien informés de l'Eglise catholique, la perpétuité n'est pas l'éternité" (p. 92).

Mario Turchetti very rightly begins by reminding us that the term "political" generally had negative connotations in the late 16th century, and that for the words "courants" and "partis" the reader must be extremely careful to keep in mind that the latter usually is a "more structured group" than the former. Great prudence must also be the norm in reading a patriotic perspective back into the 16th century in order to make negative comments — for instance, that the Guises were "valets d'Espagne" — when diocesan administrations in Northeastern France were still not entirely congruent with the French realm. Turchetti then questions the too explicit differentiation of the parti des politiques from anything other than their opponents — with Catholic clergy and parlementaires generally hostile to pacification if it included any form of recognition of the Huguenots as something other than heretics. Lazare Coquelay, former Leaguer, is noted as someone who comes over to the politiques, in the sense of putting tranquillity over violence, saying "que Dieu nous a donnée le canal du roi" who came around to support Henry IV. Turchetti discerns a coherence and an intelligence in Henry's every action, to make the Edict of Nantes Henry's doing. The significance of the word "concord", rather an "re-establish," "conquest," "subdue," is very interestingly brought out by an analysis of the pamphlet De la Concorde de l'Estat.

Bernard Roussel's review of the efforts to maintain union and intelligence in the Synods of 1594, 1596 and 1598; is more of a success story than one might think, given the tensions, etc. The shortage of pastors is stressed, which helps clarify the concern about academies that came up in the discussions about clauses to be included in the Edict of Nantes. The clashes prompted by quite different initiatives by Cassegrain, Lescaille and de Serre are surmounted with considerable maturity and moderation.

Beatrice Nicollier writes about diplomatic relations with Spain, with a view to clarifying the dynamics behind not only the promulgation of Nantes but the signing of Vervins. With the nadir being the Joinville treaty of 1585 by the Guises that granted huge concessions to Philip II, it was no small task for Henry to recover reputation on the international stage while at the same time treating with Mercoeur over Brittany, capturing Amiens, etc. Nicollier places emphasis on Henry's declaration of war with Spain as a galvanizing action: after Amiens is retaken, a "vent de panique" comes over Huguenot diplomatic correspondence, partly owing to the fact that their chiefs, Bouillon and La Trémoïlle, had failed to come to the king's aid against the Spanish invaders. The Huguenots sent embassies to allied powers, England and the Netherlands, to work to impede a Henrician settlement with Spain.

The peace of Vervins was in place, except for the signatures, by the time the Edict of Nantes was signed on April 30 ("sans doute"). Elsewhere in the volume there are further remarks about Bouillon and La Trémoïlle, but at Vervins their "logic" had been completely rejected by a king who was now master of his realm. Henry would turn to an essentially Protestant foreign policy for the rest of his reign.

Robert Descimon's study of Pierre Forget de Fresnes's social, professional and even cultural life is a model study that illuminates much more than what appears under the title,"L'homme qui signa l'édit de Nantes." Forget was attached to royal persons — virtually as a servant and householder. After household offices that give his family connections and experience in the royal financial administration, Forget became a secretary of state and, as such, a strong supporter of personal royal authority — the "antidote" to the scientia juris that pervaded robe families.

With Amboise origins, a Forget became treasurer of the construction of the chateau of Chambord; another was a silk merchant. The purchase of parlement offices by some did not impede others from remaining in the fiscal administration. Marriage alliances with the Beauvilliers (not yet as prestigious as they would be under Louis XIV) impress less than the consumerist culture of the Secretary of State — whose fortune totaled some 300,000 écus! His tapestries, books, two coaches and library make him an example of the Epicurian, as anti-Stoic, with im-moderation in all things. Descimon compares the Forget brothers to the Potiers — also politiques — "En servant le roi, on se servait soi-même, on ne servait forcément pas sa politique." Perhaps only biological accident prevented the Forgets from becoming one of those powerful state-servant families who never cease to gain in rank and wealth during the Ancien Régime. The signer of the Edict of Nantes was a royal servant who died without posterity, but needless to say, not without heirs!

Janine Garrisson's review of the role played by the Protestant grands is generally more sympathetic to them than Nicollier's. Garrisson notes that Bouillon and La Trémoïlle thought they had such important things to do that they could not come to their king's aid at Amiens. Always wanting ever greater compensation for their "services," the Protestant grands may have been more in rebellion than dutiful, if we may use Arlette Jouanna's formulation and change it to emphasize rebellion over duty. Much more important is Garrisson's discernment of the Huguenots' general deference toward the grands. Still, the support of the grands legitimated the Huguenot cause. Maréchal Henri de la Tour frequently attended the Assemblies at Saumur and Chatellerault in 1596- 97, exercising a leadership role. La Trémoïlle claimed that "Dieu s'est servi des Princes du sang pour protéger son Eglise...." At another point he proposed that the assemblies be given a special supervisory role over the political actions of the grands! Garrisson wonders whether or not he could have been disingenuous, as she notes that finding valid reasons for not joining Henry goes back as far as Benoist. Terms involving "security" were in the brevet, of course, not in the Edict. The 180,000 écus paid to the Huguenot military establishment by the Crown (except for the Dauphiné) simply stated a fait accompli. Already earlier, but after Mercoeur's coming over, the Huguenot military forces would have been badly beaten by the victor of Amiens! Garrisson's ironic vision of the grands is sympathetic, yet deeply historical. She ends by noting that "Henri IV ... s'apprête à déployer tout son charme et son talent pour amener l'un après l'autre ces gentilshommes carnassiers à se convertir à la religion d'Etat." (p. 186)

Mutsuji Wada takes up the question of just how "representative" the Assemblies were and bores deeply into the Saintonge-Aunis-Angoumois region to discern the strength of local rivalries, the claims of La Rochelle to dominate the region politically, and the powers of the nobles and notables. Localism remained so strong that representation in a more general and regional strength barely existed, and this despite strong political and military pressures for consolidation and univocality. Pastors no doubt played a greater role as a result of localism, but they too could quickly divide in ways that undermined effective "representation." Like Janine Garrisson's Les Protestants du Midi, Wada's article captures the effervescence in the blend of the religious and political at the regional level: the frustrations help clarify an impulse for new "national" unity that would come under Henry IV.

Hugues Daussy analyzes the role played by Duplessis-Mornay in the negotiations prior to the signing of the Edict of Nantes. He was a fidèle to whom Henry genuinely listened, in no small measure as a result of Mornay's successful accommodationist leadership in the Assemblies of Saumur and Châtellerault. Mornay was not, however, clay in the king's hands. He was deeply conciliatory and an effective negotiator. His finest hour may have been 1598. Arthur Herman found him, at Saumur in 1611, still eloquent but ineffectual because state servants (Claude de Buillon) could be coercive, and great nobles could simply go their own way — which they did.

Nicolas Fornerod explores the issue of confessional coexistence as imagined and practiced by Duplessis-Mornay. The analysis of his Lettre au Roy de 1593 and his Brief [sic] Discours de 1597draws on historical fact and precise knowledge of the terms and conditions of life in both "churches," with liberty of conscience being the tenet to be, above all else, preserved and allowed to grow for the Huguenots. And enhancing loyalty to the Crown and to Henry's person required that Duplessis- Mornay send a message of strength and confidence. It is evident that he could scarcely imagine the attacks on the Huguenots, as a corps, that would come after Henry's death. Duplessis-Mornay's vocabulary is so interesting! In 1605, when recommending that the churches reduce demands to essentials, he writes: "car de nous amuser ... à requerir accroissement de liberté ... on croiroit que ce seroit chercher nouvelle querelle; au lieu que nous ne debvons avoir but que d'assurer notre condition presente" (p. 245). The key word for Duplessis-Mornay would be "concord," not "tolerance."

Olivio Fatio also explores Duplessis-Mornay's thought as found way back in 1581, in his treatise against Epicureanism and Averroism, the De la verité de la religion chretienne. Drawing on François Laplanche, Fatio finds that Duplessis-Mornay's notions about God, reason and human nature are laid down in a formal apologetic genre. To be sure, the work is "peu original," but Fatio stresses that this in no way limited its import. As a testament of faith and a Humanist-Christian "exercise," Duplessis-Mornay's work answered a need in an era when antique philosophies held a special and sometimes dangerous appeal.

Part IV of the book is entitled Réception, and it begins with Gabriel Audisio's review of the situation in Provence, 1598-1602. Duplessis-Mornay had been dubious about, if not downright resistant to the claims that the parlements in the realm were making to review and, if necessary, curb the powers of the king in council. In Provence, by various procedural devices the Parlement delayed registration of the Edict of Nantes until October 1600. What could one expect from a previously ligueur Parlement? The story is one of cajoling and pressuring by the Crown. It would seem that, again, only Henry's constant supervision of all the dossiers from all the regional parlements (after Paris, in 1599) accounts for final acceptance in form, if not in spirit.

Marc Venard's very thoughtful chapter on how the Catholic Church was the principal beneficiary of the Edict is so true and so profound that historians rarely have emphasized it enough. The Edict reestablished the Church everywhere in the realm — thus denying the legal possibility of Huguenot enclaves that excluded Catholics. Then, in the sort of brilliant move we expect of Venard, he explores the question of just when and where episcopal visitations were reestablished, and what the bishops found. The texts are a lamentation about the degradation of edifices and the spoliation of income-producing property by town councils, local nobles and others. Evidence of using sacred spaces and objects for sheltering and feeding livestock was no doubt recorded to nourish hostile attitudes toward Huguenots. Circumspection remained the word in communities where Protestants were strong. In places where they were not very strong, bishops ordered that Huguenots be disinterred from the old church cemeteries. Venard is, of course, profoundly correct about the tone of the Edict that recognizes Roman Catholicism as the religion of the realm, and how that tone yields to an interpretation of the rights being recognized for the R.P.R. as being only temporary.

Françoise Chevalier explores the cahiers des plaintes of 1599-1600 that in some ways are a mirror of the episcopal visitations — darkened by the Catholics' lack of respect for the terms of the Edict. In Aubenas the Jesuits built a chapel directly across from the maison de ville where the Huguenots held services, and the Reverend Fathers would ring the bell during those services. These chapters on the reception provide interesting bits of ethnographic evidence about how difficult it was in many places to develop a "live and let live" atmosphere of the type that, generally, Hanlon found in Layrac. The pains over cemetery and sanctuary placement — like the restoration of Catholic churches — had a "religious correctness" about it in all its pettiness, a fact that again helps explain a rise of royalist and unitary thought in subsequent decades. The dynamics of intensified royalism were grounded on frustration, anger and violence by neighbors (and who knows, perhaps by one's own relatives?). True, it would be a mistake in all this to think of Henry IV himself as the popular king of 18th- and 19th-century myth. Au contraire: he was seen as the betrayer, the flubber, the disrespecter not only of what seems to be the essential finer points of Catholicism as articulated by the League, but also of corporatist Protestantism, as articulated by some consistories.

Raymond Mentzer takes up the very important history of the chambre de justice, often referred to as the "chambre de l'Edit," in Languedoc, and he categorically refers to the Parlement of Toulouse as "réactionnaire." Believing that no justice was available to them in an all-Catholic court, as early as the late 1560s the Huguenots demanded courts where they would be in the majority. By 1579 some signs of hope were found in a special chambre established at Lisle-sur-Tarn, a town northeast of Toulouse that was still under League authority, but in the direction of Castres. Some royal officials may have seen the chambre as a neat way of clipping parlementaire pretensions a bit. Threats to establish new courts in the same jurisdiction (and doing so) were frequent, for example, when parlements refused to register newly created officials. After 1595, a number of Huguenot judicial dynasties would eventually create a kind of Protestant and royal subculture in Castres. One of these families, the Lacger, has been the subject of a very interesting monograph by Mentzer, Blood and Belief...., (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1994), with venality of office playing a part. Mentzer's main point is that, through the difficult history of these special courts, the actual living conditions created in part by the Edict of Nantes can be discerned.

Alain Tallon, author of a synthetic work on the Company of the Holy Sacrament and a thèse on France and the Council of Trent, here explores the refusal of the Curia to imagine or accept any type of existence for the Huguenot heretics. Catherine de Médicis was continually obliged to justify to papal nuncios her efforts to find a middle way between the parties. Santa Croce pressed firmly on and did not hesitate to support Catholics in their confrontations with Protestants. Only royal authority could and did limit Santa Croce's attempts to sabotage an accommodation. Tallon, for lack of a better word, it would seem, refers to Santa Croce's later appeals to have edicts enforced as creating a kind of pragmatic tolerance — while waiting for the heretic forces to diminish. Appeals for obedience by Santa Croce for royal edicts to be enforced suggests how their tenor could still very generally but forcefully be supportive of Catholics.

Bertrand Haan, without any reference to Ranke or to Pastor, explores Clement VIII's unbending opposition to a settlement that would justify coexistence. Only a nuncio — perhaps without the need to score points with Clement — Alexander de Médicis actually helped Henry and his negotiation to promulgate the Edict of Nantes by leaving the pope uniformed. D'Ossat and Joyeuse were also doing their best to prepare for some royal intervention regarding religion in France, and eventually Clement never openly opposed Nantes! The neutralization of the League and its defeat left the pope little real choice in the matter.

Part of the book is entitled "Interprétations," and this part begins with an article by Hubert Bost on Elie Benoist, the late-17th century minister-historian of the Edict. Benoist believed that Henry had wrung concessions from his high-ranking Catholic subjects to promulgate Nantes. How to explain the Revocation? Benoist understood history as something of a weapon in an age-long battle, so much so that he may be compared with the great Port-Royal narrations of his day: "... j'ay cru plus utile pour le public de luy donner un ouvrage tel que je suis capable de le produire sur cette matiere que de le laisser mal informé d'une aussi pitoyable revolution ..." (p. 17, p. 376 of Bost).

This was written in 1694-95. The notion of public here is civic. Benoist is not just writing for Protestants, he is writing for the French and for the diaspora, and who knows who else? His perspective remains very centered on events in France as he understands his duty to write the history of the Edict, as if he were writing the history of a trial. Bost suggests that Benoist's perspective may have been shaped by reading Bayle, and well it may have been. And as a historian, doesn't Benoist get it right when he perceives that Louis XIII undermined the Edict's authority by his inability to stay "au-dessus des partis" (p. 380)? Still, Benoist's understanding of royalism remained closer to that of the parlements (though these judges might not have accepted the proposal!) when he argues that the Edict had become a "fundamental law" of the realm and therefore could not be revoked. The council of state was not a body that often referred to fundamental laws!

Guy Bedouelle describes Roman Catholic understanding of the Edict in the 19th century, showing again that the division between more reformist Catholics (Lamennais, Lacordaire and Montalembert) and other currents differed deeply on the recent history of the Church and Nantes. Montalembert's éloge of the Edict of Nantes was in effect condemned in Pope Pius IX's reign by a papal official, Antonelli. Thus the debate over directions for the Church to take in the 19th century inevitably included deep differences over Nantes and the Revocation. Finally, among some monastic orders, individual voices continued to be heard in an "alternative history" of the Church. A number of Dominicans, including le Père Maumus and le Père Constant, and the Jesuit Father Yves de la Brière, forcefully supported Henry's action in the name of liberty of conscience and civil peace.

Patrick Harismendy discerns the difficulties with which French Protestant historians struggled when writing about Nantes. How to integrate into the collective memory such tearing actions as promulgation, long-term decline of enforcement and finally revocation? Harismendy is right to take his subject toward an effort to understand in more general, if not universal terms just how the memories and histories of communities deal with this type of ambiguous historical fact. He shows that typical models of the way ideologies intersect and produce memory and history help understanding — but there is always something more. While Guizot warned his co-religionnaires against too much optimism, there was nonetheless a renouveau sustained partly by republicanism:

"Les conclusions de Léonard [E.G.] sur la décadence trouvent un certain écho dans un système de polarisation parisienne de la production historique. Car à force de défendre la nationalité française comme un absolu, la capacité du discours minoritaire à se construire comme entité est remise en cause" (p. 414).

Isn't this point interesting? Living in a pluralistic culture, presumably pursuing diversity, it may be useful to recall that America is an intensely strong and possibly still silencing and quite coercive national identity, and one in which the boundaries between church and state must be continually tended.

David El Kenz starts off his discussion of tyrannicide by quoting Anne du Bourg on a passage that merits quotation:

"Par cela je conclus que le Roy nostre Prince est subjet, et tous les siens, aux commandements du souverain Roy, et commet luy mesme crime de loese majesté, s'il determine quelque chose contre la volonté de son roy et le nostre, et par ainsi coulpable de mort, s'il persiste en une erreeur qu'il devroit condamner." (p. 415)

To condemn a king for error is not quite the same as to say he is a tyrant, nor to say that he, the king, may be killed. To be sure, this is remarkable — since kings are and must be obedient to the Sovereign King's laws, like anyone else, but I do not believe du Bourg was echoing John of Salisbury or originating his own doctrine of tyrannicide. Nevertheless the elements are there, the evocation of the law of lèse-majesté and of the death penalty meted out to those who broke that law. Still, interpreting Du Bourg's phrase merits more research and reflection. This reviewer recognizes that the word "belief" is dangerous on matters of interpretation.

El Kenz is really interested in the intense Messianism among Protestants and its decline, and this in a context of measuring just how many Huguenot churches there were. Stabilization in the numbers occurs largely with enhanced royal authority and acceptance of that authority by the Huguenots. But as El Kenz rightly says,"L'Etat royal ne fut jamais dans la religion huguenote" (p. 426) so a hope for a united and unified Protestant church was doomed, and this was confirmed in 1598.

G. Hammann reminds us all that a close reading of the actual Edict by historians is quite rare. Each plunges in to write this or that article and plows along back to earlier ones articles to compare and infer something about the "originality" of this or that clause. It was P. Beuzart who launched the trend by saying that the only original feature about Nantes was that it had been enforced, and for a rather long period. Hammann rightly forces us to prick up our ears when we read: "Il a plu à Dieu de nous donner la vertu et la force de ne ceder aux effroyables troubles" (p. 431).

Note also a grounding on intentions, which the king says (for peace) are the same among all. The uniqueness and power of the royal signature, and its association with a place and date, makes for the oneness of the monarch, a lieu de pouvoir. Also of importance is the infrequent use of the word "Eglise," and greater the reliance on the word "religion" — a distinct contrast with decrees from Trent. La "religion prétendue réformée" is a religion characterized as aspiring to something. The "Eglise réformée" is not, of course, a part of the vocabulary. I admire Hamman's technique of close reading here, which yields very important results on the Edict.

Bernard Cottret explores the "success-by-force" interpretation and the "success-by- weakness" interpretation. Were the Huguenots compromised by the Edict? Preserved by it? A tradition dating from at least Agrippa d'Aubigné down through Michelet interprets fidelity to the Monarchy as the true Achilles heel of the community. Cottret also makes interesting comparisons between the Edict and the English Bill of Rights, of Glorious-Revolution fame — a comparison that is perhaps more to the point than a juxtaposition with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which is so much more abstract.

In lofty prose, Bernard Vogler traces the general history of the thirty-year struggle for legal recognition by the Reformed Church (Lutheran) in the Holy Roman Empire, with specific reference to Alsace. As the Augsburg Diet ended in 1555, it was evident that the Empire as an entity no longer had the same sacred dimension that it had claimed, and often had had over the centuries. Lutheranism received juridical recognition, and with it came, paradoxically, "... une mentalité de possédant jaloux plus de que missionnaire." (p. 467)

Claire Gantet touches on a profound element in political culture through her study of the fêtes held in the Empire between 1648 and 1660. Commemoration and celebration, notably in Swabia, Franconia and Wurtemberg, where they were the most frequent, became a more general festival of peace, beginning more civic and slowly becoming more religious. One might have thought the opposite. Catholics and Lutherans understood the Peace in different terms and remembered it in different ways. From the sermons preached, it is also evident that there was a sense of the stakes for all the participants in the Peace. She ends with this remarkable observation:

"Spiritualiser une paix confessionnelle, c'était en dernier ressort le moyen le plus rationnel de partager la vie avec autrui: Les Aufklärer avaient tort: Augsburg n'était pas l'Irrationnel." (p. 488)

This research into commemoration merits being studied in seminars along with the classic articles by N.Z. Davis, and the model study by B. Diefendorf on the ordering of thought and of processional politics in Catholic Paris prior to the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

Olivier Christin takes a general view as he attempts to support the notion that among all the pacification and peace-making attempts, those evoking more general and fundamental principles and specific institutional modifications stood a better chance of being enforced than those that only held the personal word or commitment of sovereigns. This issue is political history in the grande manière, and is thoroughly admirable, if debatable. In the study of fundamental political texts, in British history for example, it is a refrain that the less abstract charters, beginning with Magna Carta, and own down to the Petition of Right, and then the Bill of Rights, etc., have been more effective in establishing conditions of individual liberty than the more abstract Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. But then, what could have been more abstract than personal sovereignty, with the prince always the most difficult of beings to keep strictly individual. Christin also stresses how religious peaces could often serve as the provocation for further violence, and notes how the exclusion of Calvinists in 1555 laid the groundwork for the Thirty Years' War. Beneath Christin's contention links a profound issue of the relations between "ideas" and collective action in history. Perhaps different cultures respond in different ways to principled thought. It may not be an accident that possible critics for Christin's view could draw on English history to nuance his arguments.

Solange Deyon and Patricia Guyot conclude this splendid harvest with a note about the paucity of iconographic sources of the signing of the Edict of Nantes. The engraving so frequently reproduced is from Benoist's 1693 work — almost a century after the fact! Vervins was also so close chronologically that from the beginning the "public mind" tended to note it more than Nantes.

A final thought. I well recall the years when it was terribly unsophisticated to state that a king did this or that — in other words, there were just "forces," or "mentalities," or councilors acting in his name. Hilary Ballon's fine book on Parisian urbanism has been criticized for discerning royal and personal initiative in the squares being built in Henry IV's reign.

Here the last word in this volume is a speculation about what Henry might have "judged" on the matter of whether or not to make an official iconographic image of the signing of Nantes:

"Henri IV lui-même jugea très probablement plus prudent et plus habile de faire respecter cette discretion iconographique et de patronner tout ensemble la célébration de la paix retrouvée tant à l'intérieur qu'à l'exterieur." (p. 508)

In this simple, eloquent and deeply historical prose, a new initiative in history joins the venerable tradition of having kings act (the current jargon in the U.S. is "agency") as part of history. And note the coherence between the recommendations in the mirrors of princes being written throughout the sixteenth century: in kingship, prudence should be put before craftiness! Deyon and Guyot do not know for a fact what the king thought about illustrations for Nantes, but their knowledge of the period and of the king permit them to reinsert this essentially biographic technique into political history, where it had been for centuries, only to be displaced for about a half-century by various impersonal forces and social-science jargon.

So, from Bourgeon on the date of the promulgation, to Deyon-Guyot on the absence of the "engraving-opportunity" shot, this volume is chock full of humans fighting, writing, thinking and negotiating. A few years back, there was questioning about whether the historians of France could write political history. Biography had been allowed to develop as an immense semi-historical mushroom, while history had largely only structures and classes as movers and non-movers through time. Political history is alive and well among the historians of sixteenth-century France.