Skip to comments.HISTORY OF THE HUGUENOTS
Posted on 06/19/2009 3:54:08 PM PDT by alpha-8-25-02
Who were the Huguenots?
John Calvin (1509 - 1564), religious reformer. The Huguenots were French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church which was established in 1550 by John Calvin. The origin of the name Huguenot is uncertain, but dates from approximately 1550 when it was used in court cases against "heretics" (dissenters from the Roman Catholic Church). There is a theory that it is derived from the personal name of Besançon Hugues, the leader of the "Confederate Party" in Geneva, in combination with a Frankish corruption of the German word for conspirator or confederate: eidgenosse. Thus, Hugues plus eidgenot becomes Huguenot, with the intention of associating the Protestant cause with some very unpopular politics. O.I.A. Roche, in his book The Days of the Upright, a History of the Huguenots, writes that "Huguenot" is "a combination of a Flemish and a German word. In the Flemish corner of France, Bible students who gathered in each other's houses to study secretly were called Huisgenooten, or "house fellows," while on the Swiss and German borders they were termed Eidgenossen, or "oath fellows," that is, persons bound to each other by an oath. Gallicized into "Huguenot," often used deprecatingly, the word became, during two and a half centuries of terror and triumph, a badge of enduring honor and courage." As nickname and even abusive name it's use was banned in the regulations of the Edict of Nantes which Henry IV (Henry of Navarre, who himself earlier was a Huguenot) issued in 1598. The French Protestants themselves preferred to refer to themselves as "réformees" (reformers) rather than "Huguenots". It was much later that the name "Huguenot" became an honorary one of which their descendants are proud
A general edict which encouraged the extermination of the Huguenots was issued on January 29th, 1536 in France. On March 1st, 1562 some 1200 Huguenots were slain at Vassy, France. This ignited the the Wars of Religion which would rip apart, devastate, and bankrupt France for the next three decades.
St. Batholomew massacre, 1572 Click on image above for an enlarged view
During the infamous St Bartholomew Massacre of the night of 23/24 August, 1572 more than 8 000 Huguenots, including Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, Governor of Picardy and leader and spokesman of the Huguenots, were murdered in Paris. It happened during the wedding of Henry of Navarre, a Huguenot, to Marguerite de Valois (daughter of Catherine de Medici), when thousands of Huguenots converged on Paris for the wedding celebrations. Catherine de Medici It was Catherine de Medici who persuaded her weakling son Charles IX to order the mass murder, which lasted three days and spread to the countryside. On Sunday morning August 24th, 1572 she personally walked through the streets of Paris to inspect the carnage. Henry of Navarre's life was spared when he pretended to support the Roman Catholic faith. In 1593 he made his "perilous leap"and abjured his faith in July 1593, and 5 years later he was the undisputed monarch as King Henry IV (le bon Henri, the good Henry) of France. When the first rumours of the massacre reached the Vatican in Rome on 2 September 1572, pope Gregory XIII was jubilant and wanted bonfires to be lit in Rome. He was persuaded to wait for the official communication. The very morning of the day that he received the confirmed news, the pope held a consistory and announced that "God had been pleased to be merciful". Then with all the cardinals he repaired to the Church of St. Mark for the Te Deum, and prayed and ordered prayers that the Most Christian King might rid and purge his entire kingdom (of France) of the Huguenot plague. Pope Gregory XIII
On 8 September 1572 a procession of thanksgiving took place in Rome, and the pope, in a prayer after mass, thanked God for having "granted the Catholic people a glorious triumph over a perfidious race" (gloriosam de perfidis gentibus populo catholico loetitiam tribuisti).
Gregory XIII engaged Vasari to paint scenes in one of the Vatican apartments of the triumph of the Most Christian King over the Huguenots. He had a medal struck representing an exterminating angel smiting the Huguenots with his sword, the inscription reading: Hugonottorium strages (Huguenot conspirators). In France itself, the French magistracy ordered the admiral to be burned in effigy and prayers and processions of thanksgiving on each recurring 24th August, out of gratitude to God for the victory over the Huguenots.
Henry IV, himself a former Huguenot (as Henry of Navarre) The Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV on April 13th, 1598, which brought an end to the Wars of Religion. The Huguenots were allowed to practice their faith in 20 specified French "free" cities. France became united and a decade of peace followed. After Henry IV was murdered in 1610, however, the persecution of the "dissenters" resumed in all earnestness under the guidance of Cardinal Richelieu, whose favourite project was the extermination of the Huguenots.
Richelieu, who relentlessly persecuted the Huguenots. Henry IV's weakling sun, Louis the Thirteenth, refused them the privileges which had been granted to them by the Edict of Nantes; and, when reminded of the claims they had, if the promises of Henry the Third and Henry the Fourth were to be regarded, he answered that "the first-named monarch feared them, and the latter loved them; but I neither fear nor love them." The Huguenot free cities were lost one after the other after they were conquered by the forces of Cardinal Richelieu, and the last and most important stronghold, La Rochelle, fell in 1629 after a siege lasting a month.
Louis XIV Louis XIV (the Sun King, 1643-1715) began to apply his motto l'état c'est moi ("I am the state") and introduced the infamous Dragonnades - the billeting of dragoons in Huguenot households. He began with a policy of une foi, un loi, un roi (one faith, one law, one king) and revoked the Edict of Nantes on 22 October 1685. The large scale persecution of the Huguenots resumed. Protestant churches and the houses of "obstinates" were burned and destroyed, and their bibles and hymn books burned. Emigration was declared illegal. Many Huguenots were burned at the stake. Many Huguenots who did not find their death in local prisons or execution on the wheel of torture, were shipped to sea to serve their sentences as galley slaves, either on French galley ships, or sold to Turkey as galley slaves. A vivid account of the life of galley-slaves in France is given in Jean Marteilhes's Memoirs of a Protestant, translated by Oliver Goldsmith, which describes the experiences of one of the Huguenots who suffered after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
Every Huguenot place of worship was to be destroyed; every minister who refused to conform was to be sent to the Hôpitaux de Forçats at Marseilles and at Valance. If he had been noted for his zeal he was to be considered "obstinate," and sent to slavery for life in such of the West-Indian islands as belonged to the French. The children of Huguenot parents were to be taken from them by force, and educated by the Roman Catholic monks or nuns.
Scenes like these were common during the persecution of the Huguenots in France during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Click on picture above for enlargement. At least 250 000 French Huguenots fled to countries such as Switzerland, Germany, England, America, the Netherlands, Poland and South Africa, where they could enjoy religious freedom. As many were killed in France itself. Between 1618 and 1725 between 5 000 and 7 000 Huguenots reached the shores of America. Those who came from the French speaking south of Belgium, an area known as Wallonia, are generally known as Walloons (as opposed to Huguenots) in the United States.
The organised large scale emigration of Hugenots to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa occurred during 1688 - 1689. However, even before this large sscale emigration individual Huguenots such as François Villion (1671) and the brothers François and Guillaume du Toit (1686) fled to the Cape of Good Hope. In 1692 a total of 201 French Huguenots had settled at the Cape of Good Hope. Most of them settled in an area now known as Franschhoek ("French Corner"), some 70 km outside Cape Town, where many farms still bear their original French names.
A century later the promulgation of the Edict of Toleration on 28 November 1787 partially restored the civil and religious rights of the Huguenots in France.
Let’s not also forget how Henry VIII brought Huguenots to England in order to destroy the monasteries and hundreds of years worth of philosophical and theological works and priceless treasures because he knew no Englishman would willingly destroy his own heritage.
A BLESSED 500 YEAR CELEBRATION OF JOHN CALVIN’S BIRTH!
/Also remember how the pope had the knights executed. And how the church was selling crap to peasants and telling them the crap would guarantee them salvation.
I know your screen name is likely a reference to the sword of the Marines, but it’s also suitable, because your post reflects a philosophical version of the Mameluke’s barbarity.
You’re in for a real treat with that one.
I’m not going to get into a Catholic-vs-Protestant because it just devolves into silliness. “Your atrocity was worse than mine!” Blah blah blah. This stuff was hundreds of years ago in old Europe. We’re Americans and should be above that.
BTW, although the Huguenot experience in France certainly inspired the first three amendments, it also served to warn future generations that the entirity of the Bill of Rights is vital to the rights and privileges of any free people.
My Huguenot ancestors, the Sicards, escaped from La Rochelle to Ehgland and to the US in the 1680s...
About the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes...
They smuggled out their precious Bible by baking it into a loaf of bread...
They lived in NYC and then founded New Rochelle, NY...
On the monument in Hudson Park of the 151 Huguenot names...
Badeau, Du Bois, Mabille, Sicard,
are my direct ancestors..
Of the Walloons, Jesse De Forest is also my ancestor
His descendent, Simon De Forest, of Albany, NY, was a LOyalist killed in the American Revolution...
His daughter, Hannah (Ann) De Forest, born in Albany, NY married Stephen Secord (Sicard) born in New Rochelle, NY
Stephen’s mother was Madelaine Badeau, another Huguenot family..
My Huguenot forebears have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me for most of my life..
Wow! I am impressed that you know for sure about the link to your Huguenot ancestors. I have heard that one of mine may have been from the Huguenots, but haven’t been able to link it.
I too am a Hutuenot and have a Huguenot cross which I find to be the most beautiful of all crosses.
Not a bad read
From my library:
“The Huguenots: their Settlements, Churches and Industries in England and Ireland.”
by Samuel Smiles
Genealogical Publishing Co, Inc.
New York 1868
Welcome to FR!
It may shock and startle some but protestantism always coincided with violence when it was implemented by the protestants. Those parts are rarely mentioned.
Protestantism arose with the support of State and immediately, where it began, siezed lands, plundered churches and monestaries, and persecuted Catholics.
This is a fact of historical record whether one believes protestants were right or wrong.
Welcome to Free Republic!
What was your family name ???
“Official” Huguenots arrived here by about 1787 before the promulgation of the Edict of Toleration on 28 November 1787.
Louis XVI said that any descendant of Huguenots could return to France, worship how they pleased and be full French citizens...
Few took him up on his offer...
Without the Huguenot army, Louis was alone...
and Madame Guillotine was sharp...
This is not the first time that a French King and a Pope chose to persecute a group.
King Philip “the Fair” and Pope Clement V did something similar in France beginning on Friday October 13, 1307. There are those who still remember those outrages.
How long would it have taken and what would the outcome have been to colonize the U.S. had it not been for religious persecution in Europe?
Are those stains the reason our founders cautioned against any involvement (tangling alliances) with Europe?
Is that still good advice?
The Cross of Languedoc ???
Yes it is...
The Huguenot Cross
The Cross shown here which has been adopted as the insignia of The National Huguenot Society is both beautiful and symbolic. It is not, however, exclusive to the Society. It is being used more and more throughout the world as a sign among the descendants of the Huguenots. Many designs of the Cross have been worn by Huguenots throughout the years. This particular design was discovered by the Reverend Andrew Mailhet in the province of Languedoc, France, and dates from at least the eighteenth century. It has, therefore, become known as the Cross of Languedoc.
It is impossible to know exactly when the Huguenots adopted the Huguenot Cross as a symbol and confirmation of their faith. However, it is believed to have been a sign of recognition among the French Protestants as early as the 17th century. It was patterned after the Order of the Holy Spirit insignia worn by Henry IV of Navarre, who issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598 to protect Protestant freedoms. The Huguenot Society of South Africa provides the following information as to its history:
“The Huguenot cross was designed and first manufactured by a certain Mystre of Nîmes in 1688. It has as its predecessor the badge of the Hospitaler Knights of St John of Jerusalem also known as the Knights of Malta, a religious and Crusader order founded in Jerusalem in the 7th century AD. In 1308 they occupied the island of Rhodes after the collapse of the Crusader states, and in 1530 formed the order of the Knights of Malta after Rhodes was surrendered to the Ottoman Turks. They lived for 4 centuries on the island of Malta, hence the name Maltese Cross for the central part. (The Maltese Cross is generally associated with fire and is the symbol of protection of fire fighters in many countries).”
“Other predecessors of the Huguenot Cross include the so-called Languedoc Cross, and the order decoration of the Order of the Holy Spirit which Henry III established on December 31st, 1578.”
Significance and Meaning
The gold Cross of Languedoc, with the official ribbon of the Society which is white, edged with stripes of French blue and gold has become the official insignia of The National Huguenot Society worn by members.
The Cross of Languedoc consists of four elements:
The insignia consists of an open four-petal Lily of France — reminiscent of the Mother Country of France — in which each petal radiates outward in the shape of a “V” to form a Maltese Cross.
The four petals signify the Four Gospels. Each petal, or arm, has at its outside periphery two rounded points at the corners. These rounded points are regarded as signifying the Eight Beatitudes.
The four petals are joined together by four fleur-de-lis, also reminiscent of the Mother Country of France. Each fleur-de-lis has has three petals. The twelve petals of the four fleur-de-lis signify the Twelve Apostles.
An open space in the shape of heart is formed between each fleur-de-lis and the arms of the two petals with which it is joined. This shape — a symbol of loyalty — suggests the seal of the great French Reformer, John Calvin.
A descending dove pendant representing the Saint Esprit or “Sainted Spirit” — the guide and counselor of the Church — is suspended from a ring of gold attached to the lower central petal.
What was your family name ???