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8 April 2009

On this day in history: French Protestants granted freedom of worship, 1802

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louix XIV in October 1685, made Protestant worship in France illegal. This remained the case until they received limited toleration during the French Revolution. Following his rise to power, Napoleon Bonaparte promulgated the law of 18 Germinal an X on 8th April 1802, which granted full religious tolerance to French Protestants.

In the 121 articles of this law, also known as les Articles Organiques (the Organic Articles), Bonaparte sought to regulate public worship in France and to limit the divisive forces it could unleash. According to the 44 articles applied to the Protestants, they were to have no national synod, which would have created a state within the state. Rather, the law established regional church organisations known as consistoires.

The remaining 77 articles set down the relationship between the French state and the Catholic church. Pope Pius VII protested the effective nationalisation of the Gallican Church and its subordination to state regulation. Nevertheless, Bonaparte's power meant that he had little choice but to sign the document.

You can read more about the Organic Articles in an article on the Catholic Encyclopedia site.

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Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, 22nd October 1685