France in the mid-eighteenth century was a nation with an official faith—Catholicism—which tolerated no rival. Huguenots (French Protestants) had faced nearly continuous persecution since the advent of the Reformation. Protestants were excluded from the major professions, such as medicine, law, and the pharmacy, and were required to be married by a Catholic priest in order for a marriage to be recognized.
In fairness, it must be said that Protestants proved to be just as vigorous persecutors as Catholics, perhaps more so. Calvinists, in their regions, went after every symbol of Rome they could lay their hands on; and their literal interpretations of (selected) scriptures could prompt them too to paroxysms of religious fanaticism.
[To read the rest of the article, click here.]