It is the 23rd of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today we remember the particularly tragic event in the early 1700s in the south of France known as the War of the Camisards.
Louis XIV and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
He preferred “cuius regio eius religio” but the Edict of Nantes gave the Prots more than just that. They could co-exist even when a ruler was Catholic.
The problem in the south of France.
Cathars and Albigensians and later Huguenots.
And now: the Camisards
- “radical” Protestants
- Largely peasant and rural craftworkers
- Led by prophets with a millenarian streak
- Two of their leaders were a baker and sheep Gelder (that’s the worst of the sheep related jobs)
They were harassed by Father Du Chayla, an especially aggressive “missionary” to the radical Protestants. For a time dissenters could go into exile but soon Louis changed his mind and forbade expatriation. 7 young Protestants had attempted to flee to Switzerland in July of 1702 when they were caught and arrested by Du Chayla. It was OTD in 1702 that the parents of the arrested youth requested their release. Du Chayla refused. The aggrieved would then surround his house, set it on fire, and when he jumped out of the window and broke his leg he was mobbed and killed.
For the next two years some 25,000 French troops descended on the Cevennes only to be continually pushed back by these “Camisards”.
What is a Camisard?
Have you ever heard of a Camisado? The military tactic, not the Panic! At the Disco song. A Camisado is an early morning- pre Dawn attack. These Protestants in the Cevennes used these attacks on the royal army to great success. One reason they were successful? They wore white shirts over their armor to identify each other in the dark.
These white shirts: camisas.
The war would persist for over 2 years and came to an end with the royal directive being to exterminate the rebels. The Camisards refused anything short of full toleration.
Ultimately they would be offered some kind of amnesty but many decided to leave. Camisards would cease to be as militant and would become more associated with millenarianism, prophecy, and underground worship.
Ultimately it is another tragic story between a rebellious faction and a violent institutional church. The memory of the savage war remains in the Cevennes even after the formal principles of Christianity seem long gone. And while these 18th century folk might have seen themselves as modern, they were play-acting and recreating the Crusades. Today we remember this story on the anniversary of the kidnapping of the 7 Protestant kids on this day in 1702 that led to the revolt and the War of the Camisards.
The last word for today comes from the epistle to the Colossians- a good word about peace and the Gospel:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 23rd of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite bands that include extraneous exclamation points are: Panic! At the Disco, Wham! And Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis who recommends “Accidentally Kelly Street” by Frente!
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.