France (Wikipedia)

Mentions in Pocketbook: 1 April 1664, 10 May 1664

Nîmes is famous for its Roman antiquities, and the little that Lister wrote about the city in his pocketbook had to do with two Roman altars that he saw there.

The overwhelming amount of antiquities in its urban centre were analyzed in Jean Poldo d’Albenas’s Discours historial de l’antique et illustre cité de Nismespublished in Lyon in 1559 and in 1560.  D’Albenas utilized the ruins of the past to give early modern Nîmes a distinctive urban identity, and he hoped, to heal religious divisions within his city. 1

Nîmes was the most Protestant town in France during the sixteenth century, and its citizens took part in the Wars of Religion with horrific zeal; there were two bloody massacres of Nîmes’s remaining Catholics. 2

In 1562 that the crown installed a Catholic garrison to ensure order, but in 1567, Huguenots seized Nîmes in a bloody coup called the Michelade.  As Wolfe has indicated, ‘While lamenting civic dissent and disorder, Jean Poldo hoped his book might if not turn them around, at least preserve the memory of Nîmes’s erstwhile grandeur’. 3

Brian Kaschak’s recent dissertation (Emory University, USA, 2006) demonstrated that when Lister visited Nîmes, it was in still in a period of political transition and confessional conflict.  Whilst a Protestant ascendancy meant that Louis XIII imposed a bipartisan regime on the city to satisfy both Catholic and Calvinist adherents, from 1632 to 1661, religious conflict was a characteristic feature of urban politics.  City officials thus adopted Louis XIV’s absolutism as a foundation for restoring order to the community, expelled Protestants from the conseil de ville,  and gradually restored confessional uniformity in the 1670s.  Things were very much in flux when Lister traveled to Nîmes to see the antiquities.


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  1. Michael Wolfe, ‘An Archaeology of Identity: Unearthing Sixteenth-Century Nîmes‘, Proceedings of the George Rudé Conference, 2006. Adelaide, Australia.
  2. Allan Tulchin, That Men Would Praise the Lord: The Triump of Protestantism in Nîmes, 1530-1570 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  3. Wolfe, ‘An Archaeology’.

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