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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 9 The Protestant Interest and the Peaces of Rastatt and Baden At the peace congresses held successively at Rastatt and Baden, located respectively on the middle Rhine and near Zi.irich, activist hopes for the Protestant interest on the Continent of necessity focused on the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. However, the options available to the advocates of the Empire's Protestants were constrained by the overlap of diplomatic agendas between Utrecht and the congresses at Rastatt, in 1713-1714, and at Baden, in Summer and Fall 1714. The prospect of confusion over intertwined negotiations was foreseen in the labyrinth of business conducted at Utrecht as the congress began to wind down in Winter 1713. It was imperative to simplify the work of the coming congresses, when an elaborate peace would have to be concluded among France, Spain, the Empire as a body, its belligerent princes both Allied and pro-Bourbon, and Emperor Charles VI. For that reason, the formulae of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 were offered to the court of Versailles as the basis for settling the peace of the Empire and its constituent belligerents. This proposal simplistically suggested that the War of the Spanish Succession would be ended in the Empire without jeopardy to its Lutherans or above all its Calvinists. These tidings vindicated the clamors heard continually throughout the war from the militant advocates of the Empire's Protestants for an "explanation" of the "religion clause" of the fourth article of the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick. With...

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