AskDefine | Define dragonnade

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dragon, dragoon


Extensive Definition

A policy, commonly called in French "dragonnades", was instituted by Louis XIV in 1681 in order to intimidate Huguenot families into reconverting to Roman Catholicism.
This policy involved billeting particularly obnoxious and difficult soldiers known as dragons (dragoons) within the Protestant households where they were encouraged to wreak havoc. With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Louis XIV, the self-styled ‘Protector of Catholicism’, withdrew, at a stroke, the privileges and toleration that the Protestant Huguenots of France had been guaranteed under this edict for nearly 87 years and ordered the destruction of Huguenot churches and the closure of Huguenot schools. Having effectively outlawed their religion, Louis XIV combined this legal persecution with his tried and tested policy of terrorising recalcitrant Huguenots who refused to convert to Catholicism by billeting his notoriously brutal dragoon soldiers (or dragons in French) in their homes and instructing these soldiers to harass and intimidate the occupants in the hopes that this would persuade them to convert to the state religion.
This persecution of their religious brethren caused outrage in England and sustained a wave of literature protesting against the inhuman treatment of the Huguenots, thousands of whom flocked to English shores seeking asylum. Louis's "dragonnades" policy was so brutal that it caused great numbers of Protestants to flee France even before the religious rights granted them by the Edict of Nantes were removed in 1685. Most Huguenots fled to countries like Switzerland, the Netherlands, England, and German territories.
On January 17, 1686, Louis XIV claimed that out of a Protestant population of 800,000 to 900,000, only 1,000 to 1,500 had remained in France but his campaign was in fact deeply detrimental to France's economy as many of the Huguenots who chose to flee France possessed important skills such as silk-weaving and clock-making and optometry, which were a hugely valuable addition to the economy of the countries that they fled to, especially England and Prussia.


  • CARBONNIER-BURKARD, Marianne et CABANEL, Patrick, "Une histoire des protestants en France XVIe-XXe siècle", Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1998, 215 pages. ISBN 2-220-04190-5.
  • DUBIEF, Henri et POUJOL, Jacques, "La France protestante, Histoire et Lieux de mémoire", Max Chaleil éditeur, Montpellier, 1992, rééd. 2006, 450 pages. ISBN 2-84062-001-4.

External links

dragonnade in German: Dragonaden
dragonnade in Spanish: Dragonada
dragonnade in French: Dragonnades
dragonnade in Polish: Dragonady
dragonnade in Serbian: Драгонада
The Dragonnade is a book by Miles Hawke about 17th century English Protestant Monmouth rebellion circa 1685
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