La coexistence confessionnelle à l'épreuve: Études sur les relations entre protestants et catholiques dans la France moderne. Edited by Didier Boisson and Yves Krumenacker. [Chrétiens et Sociétés: Documents et Mémoires, No 9.] (Lyon: Institut d'Histoire du Christianisme, Université Jean Moulin- Lyon III. 2009. Pp. 261. euro22,00 paperback. ISSN 1761-3043.)
Much as ecumenism and interfaith dialogue offer hope for lessening the religious tensions of the twenty-first century, so early-modern Christians throughout Western Europe pursued confessional coexistence as a potential solution to the unrelenting, murderous conflict that accompanied the Reformation. To be sure, coexistence was not the same as toleration, but at least it presented possibilities for containing conflict. Chief among the places where this important if not always successful experiment unfolded was France. There the religious divide pitted a powerful Catholic majority against a determined Protestant minority. The nine essays gathered in this volume span three centuries; explore the economic, political, religious, and social dimensions of confessional coexistence; and bring an array of historical sources to bear on the subject.
Denis Crouzet and Pierre-Jean Souriac's essays are the most politically oriented. The former focuses on the Queen Mother Catherine de Medici's oscillation between patience and anger, dissimulation and openness, deception and violence in her efforts to realize concord and stability. Souriac examines the oft-cited, though little-studied, surety towns where armed Huguenot garrisons protected Reformed worshipers, concluding that the provisions offered security but meant that the urban bourgeoisie was unlikely to take up arms when the Protestant Henri, duc de Rohan, rose against the Catholic monarchy in the 1620s.
A second set of essays examines the various arrangements for confessional coexistence in the seventeenth century. Philippe Chareyre surveys developments at Nîmes, a southern Protestant bastion. Drawing on a close reading of church disciplinary records, he emphasizes the practical need for coexistence to maintain social cohesion and economic prosperity. Michelle Magdelaine and Edwin Bezzina also direct attention to particular communities, in this instance Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and Loudun.The former investigates the contours of confessionally mixed marriages, while the latter presents the results of an exhaustive analysis of wills. …