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The Huguenots, the Protestant Interest, and the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1714


Laurence H. Boles

By 1700, the Protestants of Europe, above all the Calvinists (Reformed), felt threatened anew by Roman Catholicism. Activists, especially Huguenot émigrés, pleaded to friendly rulers to restore Protestantism in France and to protect it in the Holy Roman Empire as aims in their wars against Louis XIV. This activism peaked during the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1714, but to no avail. The peace of 1713-1715 brought only token gains for the continental Protestant interest; both the Allied and the Bourbon powers were absorbed in such secular concerns as state sovereignty, dynasticism, collective security, and trade. The activists were victims of the maturing European states system and of their own archaic world-view.


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CHAPTER 8 The Protestant Interest, the Huguenots of France, and the Peace of Utrecht The fortunes of the Protestant interest on the European continent faced almost-continual frustration from the very start of formal peacemaking as the War of the Spanish Succession came to a close. This was apparent in the first of the peace conferences, the Congress of Utrecht, from its opening in February 1712 until its conclusion on April 11, 1713. While the proceedings there were mainly the venue of Britain, the Dutch Republic, France, and Spain, the two lead powers of the Grand Alliance achieved remarkably little at Utrecht for the Protestants of France or on the Continent in general. By unfortunate paradox, this outcome was consistent with the tenor of the entire congress, which "was fundamentally an English peace, and England emerged with all the honors. 1 For the Huguenot emigre activists of Britain and the Dutch Republic, the Congress of Utrecht had been looked forward to as the opportunity to requite the sufferings of their brethren in France. Throughout 1712, anonymous emigre petitioners invoked sentiment, flattery, and global claims in urging Queen Anne to move for the restoration of the Protestant religion in France as a condition of the peace, which they maintained was a war aim shared by all the belligerent Protestant princes of Europe. These princes were mortified by the oppression endured by their co-religionists of France, the petitioners claimed, adding that it was their right to demand the restoration of the liberties of...

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