published the 28th of august 2016
In France, the relationship between Catholics and Protestants was shaped by successive royal edicts. The Edicts of Compiègne (1547) and Ecouen (1557) laid down strict laws limiting what Protestants could do. The 1563 Edict of Amboise allowed Protestant worship in some circumstances, a decision reversed in the 1585 Edict of Nemours. The Edict of Nantes, signed in 1598 by Henri IV, himself a former Protestant, was an attempt to end the wars of religion by allowing freedom of worship.
The 1629 Peace of Alès put an end to Protestant freedoms. Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes once and for all, starting a new wave of persecution against the Huguenots. Not until the French Revolution was freedom of worship allowed again in France.
The Edict of Nantes gave the Protestants nearly 150 towns and cities where they could worship freely. They included some fifty official strongholds such as La Rochelle, Sedan, Saumur, Montpellier , and Montauban . The Peace of Alès, signed by Louis XIII in 1629 after the siege of La Rochelle, abolished their special status.
Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was a prolific author. His memoirs, now freely available online, discuss the siege of La Rochelle but show little compassion for the starving inhabitants. He was more interested in strategy and diplomacy than in the tragic human cost of the siege.