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‘Sham Of Liberty Of Conscience’: Huguenots And The Problem Of Religious Toleration In Restoration England

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines rhetorical arguments about Huguenots in English polemical religious texts from the 1670s and 1680s. It discusses five interrelated points that demonstrate the singular importance of rhetorical appeals to Huguenot history and persecution. First, that the issue of french Huguenots was useful rhetorical device for English Catholics, conformists, and dissenters. Second, until Louis XIV's edicts against the Huguenots, English polemicists were forced to rely on french history, to argue that Catholics were bent on destroying Protestantism. Third, English dissenters powerfully defended their dissent by contrasting french tolerance with English laws against dissenters. Fourth, Louis XIV's renewed persecution of Protestants in 1681 appeared to prove accurate all the accusations leveled against french Catholics by Protestant polemicists. Fifth, the fall of James II was directly related to both the rhetorical context of Huguenot history and the reported experiences of Protestant suffering after the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685.

Keywords: English Catholics; English polemical religious texts; Huguenots; Louis XIV; Protestant polemicists; Protestantism; St. Bartholomewe's day massacre



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