Huguenot general assemblies in France, 1579-1622
A large measure of the durability of the Huguenot movement was derived from then- general political assemblies. The assembly held at Montauban in 1579 was the first attended by a deputy north of the Loire; after the final and twenty-second general assembly at La Rochelle in 1622, only localised gatherings were held. This thesis argues that the assemblies were primarily a corps: their principal purpose was both to oversee the implementation of the edicts of pacification and to mobilize resources if peace broke down. Essentially based on the available manuscript sources, many of them unexplored, this thesis approaches the general assemblies as an institution. The first two chapters highlight the process of convocation of the general assemblies and the manner in which political representation (both within the assemblies and to the monarchy) took place. The third chapter principally explores the relationship between the general assemblies and the chambers created for Huguenots in the parlements from 1576. The assemblies supported these chambers as a means of obtaining implementation of the edicts of pacification. In the fourth chapter, the apparently conflicting attitudes of the general assemblies to property and civil rights are addressed. For instance, while the assemblies regulated the taking of lay and ecclesiastical property, revenue from these sources was often reinvested to support ministers, schools and charitable purposes. The fifth and sixth chapters examine the provisions for war made by the general assemblies and their attempts to ensure the adequate financing of Huguenot troops. The assemblies always stated that they acted in self-defence; a primary concern was the need to ensure the protection of local civilian populations. The monarchy allowed the assemblies to organise levies for the repayment of debts owed to mercenary troops and provided for the maintenance of Huguenot garrison troops from royal revenue. This thesis concludes that while the general assemblies worked as a corps, they never received letters of corporation from the monarchy; they remained ad hoc, susceptible to events and to the manipulation of public opinion through wellaimed pamphlet literature.