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The Bellicose Dove

Claude Brousson and the Protestant Resistance to Louis XIV, 1647–1698

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The Bellicose Dove is the first English biography of the Huguenot lawyer, preacher, diplomat and martyr Claude Brousson in 150 years. It examines his life (1647–98), letters, sermons, books, and the role he played in resisting Louis XIV’s persecution of the Huguenots until his death on the scaffold in 1698. As a critical, scholarly biography, Bellicose Dove revises the apologetic picture painted by 19th-century writers of Brousson as a pious pacifist. It explores his flirtation with treason in the 1683 Toulouse Project and his invitation to the duc de Schomberg to invade France and end the Revocation in 1690–91, as well as his and François Vivent’s use of violence inside France.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-903900-31-4
Hardback Price: £65.00 / $79.50
Release Date: February 2003
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-196-2
Paperback Price: £29.50 / $39.95
Release Date: February 2003
Page Extent / Format: 252 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


List of Illustrations


1 The Dove is Born (1647–1683)
2 The Dove Turns Bellicose (1683–1684)
3 The Dove Flies Abroad (1683–1688)
4 The Dove Returns to France (1689–1693)
5 The Lion and the Dove
6 The Hawk and the Dove
7 The International Dove (1693–1696)
8 The Mystical Dove
9 The Sacrificial Dove (1697–1698)

Epilogue: Reconsidering the Revocation


Utt and Strayer retain the merit of having distanced themselves from a Protestant hagiography that treated Brousson as but a holy martyr above reproach, as one who died heroically for his reformed beliefs. They convincingly reveal a human Brousson more complex than a faultless saint. This book is well worth the attention of serious scholars of seventeenth-century France.
Seventeenth-Century News

Grounded on meticulous research, The Bellicose Dove is an authoritative account of the life of Claude Brousson that additionally provides important insights into the nature of the ‘absolutist’ state of Louis XIV.
David J. B. Trim, Newbold College

The Bellicose Dove helps to deepen our understanding of the extent to which the second half of the reign of Louis XIV could be said to be very much about religion, religious conflict, and the tensions such a conflict posed for a monarchy on the cusp of the Enlightenment.

The tale of Claude Brousson, lawyer from Nîmes turned fugitive preacher, is as exciting to 21st-century readers as it was inspirational to 18th- and 19th-century audiences. The transformation of this successful avocet of the 1660s and 1670s first into ringleader of the ‘Committee of Resistance’ and chief author of the Declaration of Toulouse (1683), then internationally-known exile and polemicist in Switzerland and the Netherlands, secretly-ordained peripatetic clandestine pastor and evangelist with a price on his head, and finally victim of a judicial death sentence, is a front-rank epic of the period surrounding the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In the hands of Utt and Strayer it is also much more. They set the story solidly in the contexts of the development of French Calvinism after 1598 and of the Huguenot diaspora from the 1680s, depicting the difficult dilemmas of all who sought to live with persecution within France and respond effectively to it from without (or sink into comfortable exile). They offer a vivid analysis of the ‘4000 pages of inflammatory rhetoric’ (p. 4) which Brousson left behind, pointing particularly to his vehement anti-Catholicism, his fascination with apocalypse and persecution and his penchant for symbolism and mysticism, all so much at odds with his increasingly rational pastoral colleagues. Above all, they address, as early admirers like John Quick did not, embarrassing evidence about this iconic, but also ‘archaic, naïve and infuriatingly self-righteous’ man (p. 3).
... This book is to be welcomed as providing honest and rounded analysis of a complex but important figure and valuable perspectives on the challenges of active and passive resistance to royal authority in the late 17th century.
Proceedings of The Huguenot Society

Brousson was executed on 4 November 1698, allegedly for rebellion, seditious writing and illegal assembly; in reality he was subjected to the death sentence ordered for all captured itinerant Protestant preachers by a royal declaration of 1 July 1686. Brousson was something of a controversial figure even among Protestant exiles, many of who doubted the orthodoxy of some of his mystical interpretations of biblical allegories. His most frequently used symbol was that of the dove seeking refuge in the clefts of the rocks
(Song of Solomon 2:14), which he applied both to Christ and to God’s persecuted Protestant church in France. He delivered a sermon on ‘the mystical dove in the clefts of the rocks’ 15 times between 1690 and 1693 …This book is a valuable addition to studies of Protestantism during the era of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
European History Quarterly

The Preface explains that as well as describing the extraordinary career of the lawyer turned renegade preacher Claude Brousson, who spearheaded Huguenot resistance between 1683–1698, the book also ‘tells a ripping good yarn’. It admirably achieves both feats and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Louis XIV’s government. Professor Utt died suddenly in 1985, leaving unfinished his life’s great work, a 900-page blockbuster on Brousson. It has now been adroitly completed by Brian Strayer, who was the ideal choice, not only because he has published extensively on religion and authority under the Bourbons but also because Utt’s Huguenot novels inspired an adolescent Strayer to become an historian of France.
... In an illuminating epilogue, Strayer notes that after canvassing opinion about the Revocation, Louis XIV ordered moderation to be employed in dealings with the R.P.R. from January 1699, although most Bishops advocated ‘Holy violence’. Brousson was not of course solely responsible for reviving the ‘church in the desert’ and Strayer points out that Louis had promised William III that Protestants would not be tormented, but the lack of analysis is sometimes frustrating. Officials in the south had long bemoaned the lack of Catholic missionaries and we hear almost nothing about other prominent exiles, like Bayle and Jurieu, or critics at court, like Vauban and Fénelon. We do learn about the growing Huguenot preaching movement, and there is an excellent chapter examining Brousson’s religiosity and his allegorical style of preaching, often referring to himself as a ‘dove’.
French History Journal

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