Concord and political tolerance in sixteenth- and seventeenth- century france

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Religious Concord and Political Tolerance in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth- Century France
Author(s): Mario Turchetti
Source: The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 15-25
Published by: The Sixteenth Century Journal
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2542013
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http://www.jstor.orgSixteenth Century Journal
XXII, No. 1, 1991
Religious Concord and Political Tolerance in
Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century France
Mario Turchetti*
Universite de Geneve
The author analyzes the two historiographic concepts of concord and
tolerance as revealed in theological and political debates in France during
the sixteenth and seventeenthc enturies.I n particulara, n examinationo flegislativet exts from 1560u p to 1685r evealsa kind of alternationb etween
two attitudes of the government: a measure of relative toleration of
Protestant worship would be followed periodically by a measure of
concordo r religiousr eunificationu nderR omanC atholics upervision( the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes is the most important). In spite of their
similarity, concord and tolerance possesseddifferent historiographic
meanings and led to political programs that were quite different from each
other and sometimese ven opposed. In the work of historiographice xplanation
it is essential that historians distinguish clearly different types of
concord and tolerance.
THIS ARTICLE GIVES a general analysis of French sixteenth- and seventeenth-
century history in the light of two chiefhistoriographical concepts:
concord and tolerance. My aim will be to show how much this history is
affected by the alternation of the two notions. First, however, it is necessary
to offer some explanation of the exact meaning and usage of the terms
"concord" and "tolerance."
Let us begin by the older: concord. Of course, the foundation and the
maintenance of unity has been the goal of allsocial, political, economic,
legal, and religious institutions. Concord has always been sought by all
forms of government, and was even worshipped as a goddess in ancient
Greece as well as in the Roman Republic and Empire. Several temples were
dedicated to Concord.
Christianity naturally brought new dimensions to the concept: religious
and moral, particular to the new Christian world-view. SaintPaul
distilled his "good news" by maintaining doctrinal and religious concord.
"I exhort you," he says to the Ephesians, "to conserve the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit even as ye are called in
one hope of your calling. One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. One God and
Father of all. .. ." (Eph. 4:3-6).
We know that Christianity in medieval times...
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