Des “fous de Dieu” aux “sages de Dieu”

In the history of French Protestantism, the year 1715 has traditionally been taken to mark the passage of the Church of the Desert from a period of ‘improvisation’ (« Désert improvisé ») to a period of ‘discipline’ (« Désert discipliné »). Without intending to challenge this established periodisation, the present article examines the relatively unknown and poorly documented period from 1711 to 1715, during which the old Camisards assembled around Antoine Court gradually freed themselves from the former stranglehold of Messianic expectations, prophecies, and apocalyptic as well as millenarian views, which up to that time had served to justify their recourse to armed revolt. The period examined culminates in the decisions of the first two ‘synods’ of  Montèzes (August 1715, and January 1716), where the question of ‘fanaticism’ and the use of violence were debated and discussed at length.