“Il y en a de sages & de fols”. Innocent Gentillet et la scission entre huguenots “patiens” et “vindicatifs” au lendemain de la Saint-Barthélemy (1574-1577)

In the best-known textbooks of political thought, scholars continue to diminish the contribution made by sixteenth-century French Reformers to the theory of resistance. However, an expanded repertoire of texts and a wider chronological net now make it possible to offer an account of the political arguments constructed by the Huguenots during the Wars of Religion that is at once more robust and more nuanced. In an attempt to contribute to the reassessment of historiographical clichés relating to Huguenot Republicanism, I will focus in this essay on the conceptualization of royal authority in the works of the Calvinist polemicist Innocent Gentillet following the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1574-76). The existence of works like that of Gentillet, which on many points is closer to such proto-Absolutist jurists as Chasseneuz, Bodin, and Pasquier, serves to confirm that the theories of the ‘Monarchomach triumvirate’ (Hotman, Beza, Duplessis-Mornay) were not received in any systematic way by the numerous Huguenot polemicists active during this period. Only a highly nuanced account will be able to reflect the diversity and complexity of the political ideals elaborated and espoused by the Huguenots.