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

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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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10. EPILOGUE 249

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CHAPTER 10 Epilogue The outcomes of the congresses of Utrecht, Rastatt, and Baden offered little of tangible benefit for the activists of the Protestant interest on the Continent. Only one item on their ambitious agenda for the War of the Spanish Succession was fulfilled: the release of one hundred thirty-six convicts from Louis XIV's Mediterranean galley fleet committed for their Huguenot faith or for having abetted the flight of lay Protestants from France since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 16850 There was no commitment by the court of Versailles to restore the Protestants of France nor to alleviate their civil disabilities, even though forcible repression of the Huguenots, except in Orange, had ended with the collapse of the Camisard rebellion several years earlier. 1 Neither did Britain, the Dutch Republic, or the lesser Protestant Allied powers extend themselves vigorously during hostilities or at the peace congresses to induce Louis XIV to rehabilitate the Huguenot body of his stateo2 The Allies' virtual disregard for the wartime goals of the champions of the Protestant interest on the Continent was the corollary of the leading Protestant belligerents' true concerns at the peace: securing the Hanoverian succession in the British realms, the barrier of fortresses in the Southern Netherlands for the Dutch Republic, and advancement of the Maritime Powers' Mediterranean trade 0 These disparate war aims of the western Allies, particularly the British and the Dutch, suggest that the Grand Alliance was not grounded in any unifying principle except opposition to...

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