Autonomy and antagonism in early modern France: The Protestants of Bergerac, 1545--1685

David Allen Pigott, Marquette University


The present work studies the rise of Bergerac as a local commercial port and regional economic power through its participation in the wine trade. It was through the wine trade that local merchants were exposed to Reform ideologies by contact with wine buyers from the Low Countries. The study then proceeds chronologically, observing Bergerac's role in the wars of religion, its leadership as a Protestant bastion in the Midi, the harmonizing of the functions of the consistory and the municipal government before Louis XIII forced participation by Catholics in positions of civic power in 1621, and the relationship between the Calvinist majority and the Catholic minority. The dissertation ends by discussing the effects of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes on Bergerac and the state of the Calvinist community preceding the Revolution of 1789. In many communities torn apart by the civil wars and the political instability so prevalent in early modern France, cooperation and inter-confessional camaraderie existed, largely for the sake of peace. Initially, I expected to find similar religious toleration and cooperation in Protestant Bergerac after the mandatory reintroduction of Catholicism there in 1601. However, far from camaraderie, I found that peace was maintained in Bergerac largely through social and economic segregation, rather than cooperation. The Catholic minority in Bergerac dealt mostly with their co-religionists; the Protestant majority did likewise, frequenting establishments run by fellow Calvinists and only consorting with those who were "morally" acceptable in the eyes of the all-controlling consistory leaders, the vast majority of whom also dictated policy in the municipal government. With few exceptions, the Protestants of Bergerac managed to fend off royal encroachment, and maintained relative autonomy well into the years of heated religious persecutions.

Recommended Citation

Pigott, David Allen, "Autonomy and antagonism in early modern France: The Protestants of Bergerac, 1545--1685" (2001). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3049940.