Race Lines and the Rhetoric of Distinction through the Académie française
Chapter 5–The Académie and Frenchness before the 18th-Century 73
Chapter 5 The Académie and Frenchness before the 18th-Century When the Dictionnaire de l’Académie was presented to the king on August 24, 1694, acting on the advice of his ministers and counselors, it was almost a decade since Louis XIV had revoked the Edict of Nantes with the Edict of Fontainebleau in October 1685. The Edict of Nantes, as we may know, was signed by Henri IV on the 13th of April, 1598 to give the Protestants or Hu- guenots the same rights as the other French people, namely the predominant Catholics. The historian Philippe Sagnac wrote that this Edict, which revoked the Edict of Nantes, abolished the heresy, demolished the temples, closed the schools, took the children away in order to raise them in the Catholic relig- ion, sent the ministers into exile, threatened with hard labor the Huguenots who would leave the kingdom.1 What this means in terms of the two kings is that they represent, a half cen- tury apart, two persisting faces of France: Henri IV who was more tolerant of the Protestants and intent on uniting France as a rather diverse religious country, and Louis XIV who was lured into Catholicism as a divine call to strengthen his power, and was convinced to make France a Catholic country by assimilating the Huguenots by force. These opposing faces of French power and religion have always been in the Académie française. Not only were Conrart and his colleagues—who started doing the work...
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