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Neither Treason nor Heresy: Use of Defense Arguments to Avoid Forfeiture during the French Wars of Religion

Kathleen A. Parrow
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 22, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp. 705-716
DOI: 10.2307/2542373
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2542373
Page Count: 12
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Neither Treason nor Heresy: Use of Defense Arguments to Avoid Forfeiture during the French Wars of Religion
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Abstract

Examination of pamphlet literature from the early period of the French Wars of Religion reveals numerous claims by Catholic and Huguenot nobles that the violence they were using was in defense of themselves and their property, or of the king and his estate, and therefore was legal and not rebellious. As heresy became increasingly identified as a form of treason, Huguenots also denied that their religion was either heretical or a threat to the crown. Precedents established in royal law clearly demonstrate that forfeiture of property and even one's life was the official punishment for both treason and heresy. Since property and family were closely connected in the nobility, a desire to protect family property from confiscation for treason or heresy was certainly a motivating factor in the choice of defense arguments for legitimation of their actions.

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