Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

Praise God, the One True King

Throughout history, subjects of a particular king would expect protection from said monarch even if their religious views did not agree with his. The Huguenot subjects of many a French king must have felt betrayed, enraged, and helpless when their king, the man who had the power to protect his Protestant subjects and bestow equal rights, failed to treat them with the same kindness as he treated everyone else. Like a parent who obviously favored one child and berated the other, French kings had a habit of showing favoritism to their Catholic subjects. Worse of all was Louis XIV.

When I was growing up, I believed he was a real “good guy.” After all, he was called the Sun King, he cultivated art, culture, and fashion in France and wider Europe, and at the height of his reign he was apparently the man to emulate. I knew he was involved with the French colonization of Louisiana. What I did not know was that in 1685, with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he effectively silenced French Protestants socially and often physically. He showed little if any care for his Huguenot subjects by forbidding them to meet for the practice of their religion, to baptize their children in their own faith, to have their own ministers, to work at the job of their choice, to send their children to Huguenot schools, and so forth.

The “Sun King” was said by some to be unaware to the widespread persecution of Huguenots enacted by the “dragonnades,” yet, being a king who took a great deal of pride in knowing what was happening throughout his kingdom, it is likely he had a hand in their cruelty. He watched as Huguenot men were thrown into galleys and forced to row, often to their deaths, and often simply because they were Protestant. Those who had known him as a mild man must have wondered, as does a child when his parent suddenly withholds affection, why these drastic changes had wrought such havoc. 

Louis XIV in 1685, the year when thousands of
Huguenots began to be persecuted after the revocation
of the edict of Nantes.

There was one very important fact that Louis XIV did not understand . . . he touted one faith for his kingdom in the hopes of national unity, but the minds and souls of men were something he could not control. No compulsion in the world could force a man not to believe the convictions he held in his heart. As a result, archaic practices such as burnings at the stake were reintroduced, much to the Huguenots’ horror. France’s Protestant subjects, those who survived, fled by the thousands. They now nursed a sense of betrayal too deep and too painful to touch upon. The very king whom they had faithfully served had turned his powerful hand against those he should have sworn to protect.

Yet there was a lesson in the horrors of the Edict of Fontainebleau. Earthly kings were fickle. Sometimes cruel. Bound by their own hearts, souls, and consciences. They were men, fallible and guided by whatever their religious convictions happened to be. The Huguenots could not trust Louis the Sun King, but there was one King Who would never fail them no matter how far their lives had fallen . . . the Lord of Hosts, the King of Kings, a gracious, protective, and merciful monarch, would always hold His faithful in the palm of His hand.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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