Chapter 4 Huguenot Prophecies in Eighteenth-Century France

In: Early Modern Prophecies in Transnational, National and Regional Contexts (3 vols.)
Lionel Laborie
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This chapter explores the oral prophetic culture of several French Protestant movements that emerged in south-eastern France in the aftermath of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. While Huguenots largely dismissed beliefs in prophecy and miracles as “superstitious” and “popish”, intensifying persecution in the 1680s led many to believe that they were living in the end times. Charismatic lay preachers replaced their pastors who had fled abroad and several generations of prophets survived underground in the remote mountains of Languedoc and Dauphiné over the eighteenth century. Their predictions of the relief of the ‘True’—Protestant—Church and the fall of Rome circulated in manuscript form and some were even published abroad. This chapter therefore sheds lights on the oral prophetic culture of the clandestine Huguenot community, starting with Isabeau Vincent and the “petits prophètes” of Dauphiné, whose prophecies circulated as far as New England; the French Quaker Daniel Raoux; the Camisards in the Cévennes; Isaac Elzière and the New Zionists; and the Huguenot minister Paul Rabaut. Considering these against the backdrop of other prophetic movements, it argues that the French eighteenth century was prophetic.

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