"Tiered Tolerance"

Protestants and the "Other" after 1685


  • Nora Baker University of Oxford


Protestantism in France, Huguenot, Jean-François Bion, Jean Marteilhe, Pierre Bayle, Orientalism, religious tolerance


The dawn of the eighteenth century saw heightened persecution of Protestantism in France. Amid this turbulent landscape, a number of Huguenots turned to the pen, some advocating armed rebellion, others calling for the acceptance of differences of creed. This chapter considers the writings of two French Protestant refugees, Jean-François Bion and Jean Marteilhe, who had experience of the conditions of captivity on board Louis XIV’s galley ships. It asks to what degree these accounts are aligned with theories on tolerance espoused by contemporary philosopher Pierre Bayle. It finds that, though Bion and Marteilhe show some open-mindedness towards the Muslim men they encountered, their brand of tolerance is one flavored with an exoticism and an Orientalism which prevent the authors from seeing adherents of Islam as their equals. The chapter concludes with an evaluation of moments in these authors’ narratives where they condone the use of force.