French Protestantism has remained famous in the history of political thought mostly for its theories regarding popular sovereignty and the right of the people to resist and replace a tyrannical ruler. However, before the civil wars pushed them on this revolutionary path, French Protestants stressed the duty of obedience even in the face of manifest tyranny. The reasons for this were ideological, due to the significance placed on St. Paul’s assertion that all political power was divinely ordained, but also pragmatic, as Calvin and his followers were acutely aware of the danger of antagonizing the secular authorities. More importantly, they were fervently hoping for the conversion of France to the Reformation and, in their mind, the surest way such a process could take place was through the conversion of the king and the royal family. Therefore, Protestant propaganda of that time constantly urged the most important French royals to convert to the Reformation, and, for this purpose, they deployed a language full of references to the pious Biblical rulers who led their people towards the true faith—whom the addressees of these propaganda texts were advised to emulate, lest they incur God’s wrath. This paper aims to analyze the occurrences and the role of these references in the Protestants’ dialogue with the French monarchy.
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