Protestantism played a significant role in The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Ze mon Davis because problems involving the marriage laws in the Catholic Church and protestantism arise in the book. Protestantism was not a religion that the people of the village smiled upon. The Catholic Church was the true religion of the people during this time. Without the information that Davis provides about the protestant reformation the readers would not be able to understand the controversy between the laws of the protestant religion and the Catholic Church. The real Martin Guerre had disappeared without a trace.
Until the year 1556 a man presented himself to Bertrand e de Role (Martin's wife) as the long-lost Martin Guerre. Little did she know he was only am imposter. As the story reads on, she begins to realize this, however still sticks by his side. The marriage law effective in Arti gat was one that said, " During the absence of the Husband, the wife cannot remarry unless she has proof of his death, regardless the length of time he is absent.
Even then, the death must be proven by witnesses. Since she had some idea about the new Martin being a imposter, this law would categorize her as an adulteress. At the same time that people were following the laws of the Catholic Church, there was another religion quick on the spread, Protestantism, The Protestantism law on marriage was much different then the Catholic Church law. The Protestantism law said that a wife abandoned by her husband without the wife having been given any occasion or being in any way guilty could after a year divorce, and be permission to remarry. This marriage law would allow them to live together and be happy without having to worry about breaking the law.
These differences in the religion cause a lot of commotion among the couple and the village people. The villagers that believed the new Martin Guerre was an imposter felt that the couple were practicing the Protestant religion because they were sleeping together and that was ok in that religion. There was alot more religious freedom as a protestant. All throughout the book of Martin Guerre we see the people starting to think about converting to the protestant religion. The religion would allow the people of the country to have more freedom.
This was something that the people really wanted in there religion. The Catholic church was slowly becoming less popular among the people and protestant was taking over. The trial of Martin Guerre was about the differences in the religions and Davis gave the readers a strong foundation to from throughout the book.