in every corner of the kingdom. Only three religious minorities maintained a significant presence in certain provinces. Some half a million Calvinists or 'Huguenots' were concentrated primarily in a crescent of territory around the southern rim of the Massif-Central, where they had struggled to maintain their faith and their identity since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Though the royal government had ceased active repression of the Calvinists and though the edict of 1787 had given formal recognition to their births and marriages, they were still legally forbidden to practise their religion or to hold most positions ofpolitical or social importance. By contrast, the 200,000 French Lutherans, almost all of them living in Alsace, were protected from most discrimination by the Treaty of Westphalia. They maintained an influential presence in the provinces, notably in the city of Strasbourg. In addition to the Protestants, France held a small Jewish population of perhaps 50,000 people. The majority were Ashkenazim, dwelling predominantly in the rural areas of Alsace and Lorraine, tenaciously clinging to their traditional customs and clothing in a regime that excluded them even from landholding. The remainder were Sephardim, descendants of refugees from Spain and Portugal, living in largely assimilated urban communities in Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Avignon.
Compared to the marginal existence of Calvinist pastors and Jewish rabbis, the French Catholic clergy was among the most powerful corporate bodies in the kingdom. In 1789 it included some 170,000 individuals - regular and secular, masculine and feminine - just over one half of one per cent of the total population. Yet the numerical and economic strength of that body varied significantly from one region to another. In general, the clergy was substantially more numerous in the cities than in the countryside, but it also maintained a significant rural presence in large portions of northern, north-eastern, and western France, where the parish priest or 'cure' might live in company with an assistant priest (vicaire) and in proximity to various communities of regulars or seculars. By contrast, in many areas of the Parisian Basin and central and southern France, a solitary cure was commonly the only priest encountered by the inhabitants in their day-to-day lives. Ecclesiastical wealth - from landholdings, tithing rights, and seigniorial dues - also differed substantially from region to region. In much of northern France, especially between Paris and the Austrian Lowlands, clerical lands might constitute 20 to 40 per cent of the territory. Though most of this wealth was controlled by regulars, bishops, and canons, a significant amount was shared with the parish clergy, so that many curés lived like local squires with impressive rectories and glebe lands. In much of southern and especially south-eastern France, however, the far more meagre ecclesiastical possessions were monopolized by the upper and regular
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