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Quaker Studies

Abstract

The 'Desert' society in Cevennes, Languedoc, was an offshoot of the persecution of French Protestants by Louis XIV. The clandestine assemblies that met in the ravines gave rise to lay ministry, as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) had forced professional ministers to flee abroad. At first, Predicants replaced ministers, then Prophets and Prophetesses in turn replaced the killed Predicants. The 'Desert' society gave birth to a popular culture. At the end of the seventeenth century, the Protestants' resistance was peaceful, but as persecutions grew, the Camisard war broke out in 1702. But a minority of Prophets refused violence, even in self-defence, as a solution to the Protestants' problems. They gathered in the Vaunage valley, around Congenies, near Nimes. Their spiritual descendants met British Friends in 1785, and joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1788. They also belonged to the popular culture of the 'Desert' society.

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