Front Page Titles (by Subject) 65.: On Protestantism in France - Judgments on History and Historians
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
65.: On Protestantism in France - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
On Protestantism in France
Royalty did not need it economically, because it had already made the church property indirectly subservient to it through the concordat and its consequences. Anyway, in a confiscation it would have had to share with the nobles to a considerable extent.
Hence the government, which in France has of old had such great scope, did not give the signal for undisciplined behavior and depredation, in contrast with Germany.
Besides, there was this great difference between the behavior of the French and the German city populations: In France, the burghers and proletarians nowhere waxed enthusiastic about the stopping of good works, the breaking of the fast, and other things, although part of the nobility did. This aspect of Protestantism was not for a moment popular with the masses, even though in France the clergy was probably mocked no less than it was in Germany.
Added to this there was the firm resolve of all authorities under Francis I to prevent the penetration of Lutheranism by every possible means. One absolute, namely Luther’s view of the Catholic church, was confronted with an equally strong absolute.
When Calvin’s doctrine appeared, it did, to be sure, prove capable of driving a small minority, which was small even under the Huguenots, to the utmost resistance. But the nation as a whole was completely antipathetic toward it, because it demanded a dominion even over the innermost parts of man, and a Frenchman can stand this sort of thing less than anyone else.
Calvinism, however, demanded not merely tolerance, i.e., its little place in the sun—far from it—but destruction of idolatry. Anne du Bourg spoke in the séance royale of “turpitude romaine.”