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The Huguenots (// or //; French: [yɡno], [yɡəno]) were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s, and they were called Huguenots by the end of the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, roughly 500,000 Huguenots had fled France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated to Protestant nations, such as England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, the Electorate of Brandenburg, Electorate of the Palatinate (both in the Holy Roman Empire), the Duchy of Prussia, the Channel Islands and also to Cape Colony in South Africa and several of the English colonies of North America which were willing to accept them.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Early history and beliefs
- 3 Wars of religion
- 4 Exodus
- 5 End of persecution and restoration of French citizenship
- 6 Apology and honours
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Symbol
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
A term used originally in derision, Huguenot has indefinite origins. Various theories have been promoted. The nickname may have been a combined reference to the Swiss politician Besançon Hugues (died 1532) and the religiously conflicted nature of Swiss republicanism in his time, using a clever derogatory pun on the name Hugues by way of the Flemish word Huisgenoten (literally housemates), referring to the connotations of a somewhat related word in German Eidgenosse (Confederates as in "a citizen of one of the states of the Swiss Confederacy")  Geneva was John Calvin's adopted home and the centre of the Calvinist movement. In Geneva, Hugues, though Catholic, was a leader of the "Confederate Party", so called because it favoured independence from the Duke of Savoy through an alliance between the city-state of Geneva and the Swiss Confederation. The label Huguenot was purportedly first applied in France to those conspirators (all of them aristocratic members of the Reformed Church) involved in the Amboise plot of 1560: a foiled attempt to wrest power in France from the influential House of Guise. The move would have had the side effect of fostering relations with the Swiss. Thus, Hugues plus Eidgenosse by way of Huisgenoten supposedly became Huguenot, a nickname associating the Protestant cause with politics unpopular in France.
A version of this complex hypothesis is promoted by O.I.A. Roche, who writes in his book, The Days of the Upright, A History of the Huguenots (1965), that "Huguenot" is:
"a combination of a Flemish and a German word. In the Flemish North of France, Bible students who gathered in each other's houses to study secretly were called Huis Genooten ('housemates') while on the Swiss and German borders they were termed Eid Genossen, or 'oath fellows,' that is, persons bound to each other by an oath. Gallicised into 'Huguenot', often used deprecatingly, the word became, during two and a half centuries of terror and triumph, a badge of enduring honour and courage."
Some disagree with such double or triple non-French linguistic origins, arguing that for the word to have spread into common use in France, it must have originated in the French language. The "Hugues hypothesis" argues that the name was derived by association with Hugues Capet, king of France, who reigned long before the Reformation. He was regarded by the Gallicans and Protestants as a noble man who respected people's dignity and lives. Janet Gray and other supporters of the theory suggest that the name huguenote would be roughly equivalent to little Hugos, or those who want Hugo.
In this last connection, the name could suggest the derogatory inference of superstitious worship; popular fancy held that Huguon, the gate of King Hugo, was haunted by the ghost of le roi Huguet (regarded by Roman Catholics as an infamous scoundrel) and other spirits, who instead of being in Purgatory came back to harm the living at night. It was in this place in Tours that the prétendus réformés ("these supposedly 'reformed'") habitually gathered at night, both for political purposes, and for prayer and singing psalms. Such explanations have been traced to the contemporary, Reguier de la Plancha (d. 1560), who in De l'Estat de France offered the following account as to the origin of the name, as cited by The Cape Monthly:
The origin of the name is curious; it is not from the German Eidegenossen as has been supposed. Reguier de la Plancha accounts for it as follows: — "The name huguenand was given to those of the religion during the affair of Amboyse, and they were to retail it ever since. I'll say a word about it to settle the doubts of those who have strayed in seeking its origin. The superstition of our ancestors, to within twenty or thirty years thereabouts, was such that in almost all the towns in the kingdom they had a notion that certain spirits underwent their Purgatory in this world after death, and that they went about the town at night, striking and outraging many people whom they found in the streets. But the light of the Gospel has made them vanish, and teaches us that these spirits were street-strollers and ruffians. In Paris the spirit was called le moine bourré; at Orleans, le mulet odet; at Blois le loup garon; at Tours, le Roy Huguet; and so on in other places. Now, it happens that those whom they called Lutherans were at that time so narrowly watched during the day that they were forced to wait till night to assemble, for the purpose of praying God, for preaching and receiving the Holy Sacrament; so that although they did not frighten nor hurt anybody, the priests, through mockery, made them the successors of those spirits which roam the night; and thus that name being quite common in the mouth of the populace, to designate the evangelical huguenands in the country of Tourraine and Amboyse, it became in vogue after that enterprise."
Some have suggested the name was derived, with similar intended scorn, from les guenon de Hus (the monkeys or apes of Jan Hus). While this and the many other theories offer their own measure of plausibility, attesting at least to the wit of later partisans and historians, "no one of the several theories advanced has afforded satisfaction."
Early history and beliefs
The availability of the Bible in local (vernacular) languages was important to the spread of the Protestant movement and the development of the Reformed church in France. The country had a long history of struggles with the papacy by the time the Protestant Reformation finally arrived. Around 1294, a French version of the Scriptures was prepared by the Roman Catholic priest, Guyard de Moulin. A two-volume illustrated folio paraphrase version based on his manuscript, by Jean de Rély, was printed in Paris in 1487.
The first known translation of the Bible into one of France's regional languages: Arpitan or Franco-Provençal, had been prepared by the 12th-century pre-reformer, Peter Waldo (Pierre de Vaux). The Waldensians became more militant, creating fortified areas, as in Cabrières, perhaps attacking an abbey. They were suppressed by Francis I in 1545 in the Massacre of Mérindol.
Other predecessors of the Reformed church included the pro-reform and Gallican Roman Catholics, such as Jacques Lefevre (c. 1455–1536). The Gallicans briefly achieved independence for the French church, on the principle that the religion of France could not be controlled by the Bishop of Rome, a foreign power. In the time of the Protestant Reformation, Lefevre, a professor at the University of Paris, published his French translation of the New Testament in 1523, followed by the whole Bible in the French language, in 1530. William Farel was a student of Lefevre who went on to become a leader of the Swiss Reformation, establishing a Protestant government in Geneva. Jean Cauvin (John Calvin), another student at the University of Paris, also converted to Protestantism. Long after the sect was suppressed by Francis I, the remaining French Waldensians, then mostly in the Luberon region, sought to join William Farel, John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation, and Olivetan published a French Bible for them. The French Confession of 1559 shows a decidedly Calvinistic influence. Sometime between 1550 and 1580, members of the Reformed church in France came to be commonly known as Huguenots.
Criticisms of the Catholic Church
Above all, Huguenots became known for their harsh criticisms of doctrine and worship in the Catholic Church from which they had broken away. In particular they criticised the sacramental rituals of the Church and what they viewed as an obsession with death and the dead. They believed that the ritual, images, saints, pilgrimages, prayers, and hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not help anyone toward redemption. They saw Christian life as something to be expressed as a life of simple faith in God, relying upon God for salvation, and not upon the Church's sacraments or rituals, while obeying Biblical law.
Like other religious reformers of the time, they felt that the Catholic Church needed radical cleansing of its impurities. They thought the Pope ruled the Church as if it were a worldly kingdom and was ultimately doomed. Rhetoric like this became fiercer as events unfolded, and eventually stirred up a reaction in the Catholic establishment.
The Catholic Church in France and many of its members opposed the Huguenots. Some Huguenot preachers and congregants were attacked as they attempted to meet for worship. The height of this persecution was the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre when 5,000 to 30,000 were killed, although there were also underlying political reasons for this as well, as some of the Huguenots were nobles trying to establish separate centers of power in southern France. Retaliating against the French Catholics, the Huguenots had their own militia.
Reform and growth
Huguenots faced persecution from the outset of the Reformation; but Francis I (reigned 1515–1547) initially protected them from Parlementary measures designed for their extermination. The Affair of the Placards of 1534 changed the king's position toward the Huguenots; he stepped away from restraining persecution of the movement.
Huguenot numbers grew rapidly between 1555 and 1561, chiefly amongst nobles and city dwellers. During this time, their opponents first dubbed the Protestants Huguenots; but they called themselves reformés, or "Reformed." They organized their first national synod in 1558 in Paris.
By 1562, the estimated number of Huguenots peaked at approximately two million, concentrated mainly in the southern and central parts of France, compared to approximately sixteen million Catholics during the same period. Persecution diminished the number of Huguenots who remained in France, as many fled to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, and England.
Wars of religion
As the Huguenots gained influence and displayed their faith more openly, Roman Catholic hostility to them grew, even though the French crown offered increasingly liberal political concessions and edicts of toleration.
Following the accidental death of Henry II in 1559, his son succeeded as King Francis II along with his wife, the Queen Consort also known as Mary Queen of Scots. During the eighteen months of the reign of Francis II, Mary encouraged a policy of rounding up French Huguenots on charges of heresy, in front of Catholic judges, and employing torture and burning as punishments for dissenters. Mary returned to Scotland a widow, in the summer of 1561.
In 1561, the Edict of Orléans declared an end to the persecution, and the Edict of Saint-Germain of January 1562 formally recognized the Huguenots for the first time. However, these measures disguised the growing tensions between Protestants and Catholics.
These tensions spurred eight civil wars, interrupted by periods of relative calm, between 1562 and 1598. With each break in peace, the Huguenots' trust in the Catholic throne diminished, and the violence became more severe, and Protestant demands became grander, until a lasting cessation of open hostility finally occurred in 1598.
The wars gradually took on a dynastic character, developing into an extended feud between the Houses of Bourbon and Guise, both of which—in addition to holding rival religious views—staked a claim to the French throne. The crown, occupied by the House of Valois, generally supported the Catholic side, but on occasion switched over to the Protestant cause when politically expedient.
The French Wars of Religion began with a massacre at Vassy on 1 March 1562, when dozens (some sources say hundreds) of Huguenots were killed, and about 200 were wounded. It was in this year that some Huguenots destroyed the tomb and remains of Saint Irenaeus (d. 202), an early Church father and bishop who was a disciple of Polycarp.
The Huguenots became organized as a definitive political movement thereafter. Protestant preachers rallied a considerable army and a formidable cavalry, which came under the leadership of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied with the Huguenots, adding wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength. At its height, they controlled sixty fortified cities and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris over the next three decades.
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
In what became known as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 24 August – 3 October 1572, Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris. Similar massacres took place in other towns in the weeks following. The main provincial towns and cities experiencing the Massacre were Aix, Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyon, Meaux, Orleans, Rouen, Toulouse, and Troyes. Nearly 3,000 Protestants were slaughtered in Toulouse alone. The exact number of fatalities throughout the country is not known. On 23–24 August, between about 2,000 and 3,000 Protestants were killed in Paris and between 3,000 and 7,000 more in the French provinces. By 17 September, almost 25,000 Protestants had been massacred in Paris alone. Beyond Paris, the killings continued until 3 October. An amnesty granted in 1573 pardoned the perpetrators.
Edict of Nantes
The pattern of warfare, followed by brief periods of peace, continued for nearly another quarter-century. The warfare was definitively quelled in 1598, when Henry of Navarre, having succeeded to the French throne as Henry IV, and recanted Protestantism in favour of Roman Catholicism, issued the Edict of Nantes. The Edict established Catholicism as the state religion of France, but granted the Protestants equality with Catholics under the throne and a degree of religious and political freedom within their domains. The Edict simultaneously protected Catholic interests by discouraging the founding of new Protestant churches in Catholic-controlled regions.
With the proclamation of the Edict of Nantes, and the subsequent protection of Huguenot rights, pressures to leave France abated. However, enforcement of the Edict grew increasingly irregular over time, and it was increasingly ignored altogether under Louis XIV. Louis imposed dragonnades and other forms of persecution for Protestants, which made life so intolerable that many fled the country. The Huguenot population of France dropped to 856,000 by the mid-1660s, of which a plurality lived in rural areas. The greatest concentrations of Huguenots at this time resided in the regions of Guienne, Saintonge-Aunis-Angoumois and Poitou.
Montpellier was among the most important of the 66 "villes de sûreté" that the Edict of 1598 granted to the Huguenots. The city's political institutions and the university were all handed over to the Huguenots. Tension with Paris led to a siege by the royal army in 1622. Peace terms called for the dismantling of the city's fortifications. A royal citadel was built and the university and consulate were taken over by the Catholic party. Even before the Edict of Alès (1629), Protestant rule was dead and the ville de sûreté was no more.
By 1620 the Huguenots were on the defensive, and the government increasingly applied pressure. A series of small civil wars that broke out in southern France between 1610 and 1635 were long considered by historians to be regional squabbles between rival noble families. New analysis shows that these civil wars were in fact religious in nature, remnants of the French Wars of Religion that largely ended with the Edict of Nantes in 1598. Small wars in the provinces of Languedoc and Guyenne show Catholic and Calvinist groups using destruction of churches, iconoclasm, forced conversions, and the execution of heretics as weapons of choice.
Edict of Fontainebleau
Louis XIV acted more and more aggressively to force the Huguenots to convert. At first he sent missionaries to convert them, backed by a fund to financially reward converts to Catholicism. Then he imposed penalties, closed their schools and excluded them from favored professions. Escalating the attack, he tried to forcibly convert the Huguenots by using armed dragonnades (soldiers) to occupy and loot their houses. In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be illegal by the Edict of Fontainebleau.
The revocation forbade Protestant services, required education of children as Catholics, and prohibited emigration. It proved disastrous to the Huguenots and costly for France. It precipitated civil bloodshed, ruined commerce, and resulted in the illegal flight from the country of hundreds of thousands of Protestants, many of whom became intellectuals, doctors and business leaders in Britain as well as Holland, Prussia, and South Africa. Four thousand emigrated to the North American colonies, where they settled in New York and Virginia, especially. The English welcomed the French refugees, providing money from both government and private agencies to aid their relocation. Those Huguenots who stayed in France became Catholics and were called "new converts."
After this, Huguenots (with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000) fled to surrounding Protestant countries: England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia — whose Calvinist Great Elector Frederick William welcomed them to help rebuild his war-ravaged and underpopulated country. Following this exodus, Huguenots remained in large numbers in only one region in France: the rugged Cévennes region in the south. In the early 18th century, a regional group known as the Camisards revolted against the French crown.
Most French Huguenots were forced to convert to Catholicism, because they did not want to emigrate or they could not. More than three-quarters of the Protestant population finally converted to Catholicism; the others (more than 200,000) moved to different countries.
The first Huguenots to leave France sought freedom from persecution in Switzerland and the Netherlands. A group of Huguenots was part of the French colonisers who arrived in Brazil in 1555 to found France Antarctique. A couple of ships with around 500 people arrived at the Guanabara Bay, present-day Rio de Janeiro, and settled in a small island. A fort, named Fort Coligny, was built to protect them from attack from the Portuguese troops and Brazilian Native Americans. It was an attempt to establish a French colony in South America. The fort was destroyed in 1560 by the Portuguese, who captured part of the Huguenots. The Portuguese threatened the prisoners with death if they did not convert to Catholicism. The Huguenots of Guanabara, as they are now known, produced a declaration of faith to express their beliefs to the Portuguese. This was their death sentence. This document, the Guanabara Confession of Faith, became the first Protestant confession of faith in the whole of the Americas.
A group of Norman Huguenots under the leadership of Jean Ribault in 1562 established the small colony of Fort Caroline in 1564, on the banks of the St. Johns River, in what is today Jacksonville, Florida. The colony was the first attempt at any permanent European settlement in the present-day continental United States, but the group survived only a short time. In September 1565, an attack against the new Spanish colony at St. Augustine backfired when the French ships were hit by a hurricane on their way to the Spanish encampment at Fort Matanzas. Hundreds of French soldiers were stranded and surrendered to the numerically inferior Spanish forces led by Pedro Menendez. Menendez proceeded to massacre the defenseless Huguenots, and the Spanish wiped out the Fort Caroline garrison.
Individual Huguenots settled at the Cape of Good Hope from as early as 1671 with the arrival of François Villion (Viljoen). The first Huguenot to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope was however Maria de la Queillerie, wife of commander Jan van Riebeeck (and daughter of a Huguenot church minister), who arrived on 6 April 1652 to establish a settlement at what is today Cape Town. The couple left for the Far East ten years later. On 31 December 1687 the first organised group of Huguenots set sail from the Netherlands to the Dutch East India Company post at the Cape of Good Hope. The largest portion of the Huguenots to settle in the Cape arrived between 1688 and 1689 in seven ships as part of the organised migration, but quite a few arrived as late as 1700; thereafter, the numbers declined and only small groups arrived at a time.
Many of these settlers were settled in an area that was later called Franschhoek (Dutch for French Corner), in the present-day Western Cape province of South Africa. A large monument to commemorate the arrival of the Huguenots in South Africa was inaugurated on 7 April 1948 at Franschhoek, where the Huguenot Memorial Museum was erected in 1957.
The official policy in the Dutch East India governors was to integrate the Huguenot and the Dutch communities. When Paul Roux, a pastor who arrived with the main group of Huguenots, died in 1724, the Dutch administration, as a special concession, permitted another French cleric to take his place "for the benefit of the elderly who spoke only French". However, within three generations French was replaced by Dutch as the home language of most of the Huguenot descendants.
Many of the farms in the Western Cape province in South Africa still bear French names. Many families, today mostly Afrikaans-speaking, have surnames indicating their French Huguenot ancestry. Examples include: Blignaut, de Klerk (Le Clercq), de Villiers, du Plessis, Du Preez (Des Pres), du Randt (Durand), du Toit, Franck, Fouche, Fourie (Fleurit), Gervais, Giliomee (Guilliaume), Gous/Gouws (Gauch), Hugo, Jordaan (Jourdan), Joubert, Kriek, Labuschagne (la Buscagne), le Roux, Lombard, Malan, Malherbe, Marais, Maree, Minnaar (Mesnard), Nel (Nell), Nortje (Nortier), Pienaar (Pinard), Retief (Retif), Rossouw (Rousseau), Taljaard (Taillard), TerBlanche, Theron, Viljoen (Villion) and Visagie (Visage). The wine industry in South Africa owes a significant debt to the Huguenots, some of whom had vineyards in France, or were brandy distillers, and used their skills in their new home.
In 1562 French naval officer Jean Ribault led an expedition to the New World that founded Fort Caroline as a haven for Huguenots in what is now Jacksonville, Florida. Trying to keep control of La Florida, Spanish soldiers killed Ribault and many of his followers near St. Augustine in 1565.
Barred by the government from settling in New France, Huguenots led by Jessé de Forest, sailed to North America and settled instead in the Dutch colony of New Netherland (later incorporated into New York and New Jersey); as well as Great Britain's colonies, including Nova Scotia. A number of New Amsterdam's families were of Huguenot origin, often having emigrated as refugees to the Netherlands in the previous century. In 1628 the Huguenots established a congregation as L'Église française à la Nouvelle-Amsterdam (the French church in New Amsterdam). This parish continues today as L'Eglise du Saint-Esprit, part of the Episcopal (Anglican) communion, and welcomes Francophone New Yorkers from all over the world. Services are conducted in French for a Francophone parish community, and members of the Huguenot Society of America. The liturgy and doctrines have nothing to do with Huguenot practices and polity, as it is Episcopal in character. Upon their arrival in New Amsterdam, Huguenots were offered land directly across from Manhattan on Long Island for a permanent settlement and chose the harbor at the end of Newtown Creek, becoming the first Europeans to live in Brooklyn, then known as Boschwick, and today the neighborhood known as Bushwick.
Huguenot immigrants founded New Paltz, New York. They built what is now the oldest street in the current United States of America with the original stone houses, which is a National Historic Landmark District. They also founded New Rochelle (named after La Rochelle in France), New York. Louis DuBois, son of Chretien DuBois, was one of the original Huguenot settlers in this area, along with the Daniel Perrin family. In 1692 Huguenots settled on the south shore of Staten Island, New York. The present-day neighbourhood of Huguenot was named for those early settlers. A town near Port Jervis, New York is named Huguenot.
Some Huguenot immigrants settled in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, such as Philip Woodring born 1741 in Alsace, France, and died 1819 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. They assimilated with the predominately Pennsylvania German settlers of the area.
In 1700 several hundred French Huguenots migrated from England to the colony of Virginia, where the English Crown had promised them land grants in Lower Norfolk County. When they arrived, colonial authorities offered them instead land 20 miles above the falls of the James River, at the abandoned Monacan village known as Manakin Town, now in Powhatan County. Some settlers landed in present-day Chesterfield County. On 12 May 1705, the Virginia General Assembly passed an act to naturalise the 148 Huguenots still resident at Manakintown. Of the original 390 settlers in the isolated settlement, many had died; others lived outside town on farms in the English style; and others moved to different areas. Gradually they intermarried with their English neighbors. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, descendants of the French migrated west into the Piedmont, and across the Appalachian Mountains into the West of what became Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and other states. In the Manakintown area, the Huguenot Memorial Bridge across the James River and Huguenot Road were named in their honor, as were many local features, including several schools, including Huguenot High School.
In the early years, many Huguenots also settled in the area of present-day Charleston, South Carolina. In 1685, Rev. Elie Prioleau from the town of Pons in France, was among the first to settle there. He became pastor of the first Huguenot church in North America in that city. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, several Huguenot families of Norman and Carolingian nobility and descent, including Edmund Bohun of Suffolk England from the Humphrey de Bohun line of French royalty descended from Charlemagne, Jean Postell of Dieppe France, Alexander Pepin, Antoine Poitevin of Orsement France, and Jacques de Bordeaux of Grenoble, immigrated to the Charleston Orange district. They were very successful at marriage and property speculation. After petitioning the British Crown in 1697 for the right to own land in the Baronies, they prospered as slave owners on the Cooper, Ashepoo, Ashley and Santee River plantations they purchased from the British Landgrave Edmund Bellinger. Some of their descendants moved into the Deep South and Texas, where they developed new plantations.
The French Huguenot Church of Charleston, which remains independent, is the oldest continuously active Huguenot congregation in the United States. L'Eglise du Saint-Esprit in New York, founded in 1628, is older, but it left the French Reformed movement in 1804 to become part of the Episcopal Church.
Most of the Huguenot congregations (or individuals) in North America eventually affiliated with other Protestant denominations with more numerous members. The Huguenots adapted quickly and often married outside their immediate French communities, which led to their assimilation. Their descendants in many families continued to use French first names and surnames for their children well into the nineteenth century. Assimilated, the French made numerous contributions to United States economic life, especially as merchants and artisans in the late Colonial and early Federal periods. For example, E.I. du Pont, a former student of Lavoisier, established the Eleutherian gunpowder mills, which produced material for the American Revolutionary War.
Paul Revere was descended from Huguenot refugees, as was Henry Laurens, who signed the Articles of Confederation for South Carolina; Jack Jouett, who made the ride from Cuckoo Tavern to warn Thomas Jefferson and others that Tarleton and his men were on their way to arrest him for crimes against the king; Francis Marion, and a number of other leaders of the American Revolution and later statesmen. The last active Huguenot congregation in North America worships in Charleston, South Carolina, at a church that dates to 1844. The Huguenot Society of America maintains Manakin Episcopal Church in Virginia as an historic shrine with occasional services. The Society has chapters in numerous states, with the one in Texas being the largest.
Some Huguenots fought in the Low Countries alongside the Dutch against Spain during the first years of the Dutch Revolt (1568–1609). The Dutch Republic rapidly became a destination for Huguenot exiles. Early ties were already visible in the "Apologie" of William the Silent, condemning the Spanish Inquisition, which was written by his court minister, the Huguenot Pierre L'Oyseleur, lord of Villiers. Louise de Coligny, daughter of the murdered Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, married William the Silent, leader of the Dutch (Calvinist) revolt against Spanish (Catholic) rule. As both spoke French in daily life, their court church in the Prinsenhof in Delft held services in French. The practice has continued to the present day. The Prinsenhof is one of the 14 active Walloon churches of the Dutch Reformed Church. The ties between Huguenots and the Dutch Republic's military and political leadership, the House of Orange-Nassau, which existed since the early days of the Dutch Revolt, helped support the many early settlements of Huguenots in the Dutch Republic's colonies. They settled at the Cape of Good Hope in South-Africa and New Netherland in North America.
Stadtholder William III of Orange, who later became King of England, emerged as the strongest opponent of king Louis XIV after the French attacked the Dutch Republic in 1672. William formed the League of Augsburg as a coalition to oppose Louis and the French state. Consequently, many Huguenots considered the wealthy and Calvinist Dutch Republic, which led the opposition to Louis XIV, as the most attractive country for exile after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They also found many French-speaking Calvinist churches there.
After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the Dutch Republic received the largest group of Huguenot refugees, an estimated total of 75,000 to 100,000 people. Amongst them were 200 clergy. Many came from the region of the Cévennes, for instance, the village of Fraissinet-de-Lozère. This was a huge influx as the entire population of the Dutch Republic amounted to ca. 2 million at that time. Around 1700, it is estimated that nearly 25% of the Amsterdam population was Huguenot. In 1705, Amsterdam and the area of West-Frisia were the first areas to provide full citizens rights to Huguenot immigrants, followed by the Dutch Republic in 1715. Huguenots intermarried with Dutch from the outset.
One of the most prominent Huguenot refugees in the Netherlands was Pierre Bayle. He started teaching in Rotterdam, where he finished writing and publishing his multi-volume masterpiece, Historical and Critical Dictionary. It became one of the 100 foundational texts of the US Library of Congress. Some Huguenot descendants in the Netherlands may be noted by French family names, although they typically use Dutch given names. Due to the Huguenots' early ties with the leadership of the Dutch Revolt and their own participation, some of the Dutch patriciate are of part-Huguenot descent. Some Huguenot families have kept alive various traditions, such as the celebration and feast of their patron Saint Nicolas, similar to the Dutch Sint Nicolaas (Sinterklaas) feast.
A number of French Huguenots settled in Wales, in the upper Rhymney valley of the current Caerphilly County Borough. The community they created there is still known as Fleur de Lys (the symbol of France), an unusual French village name in the heart of the valleys of Wales. Nearby villages are Hengoed, and Ystrad Mynach. Apart from the French village name and that of the local rugby team, Fleur De Lys RFC, little remains of the French heritage.
Both before and after the 1708 passage of the Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act, an estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots fled to England, with many moving on to Ireland and elsewhere. In relative terms, this was one of the largest waves of immigration ever of a single ethnic community to Britain. Andrew Lortie (born André Lortie), a leading Huguenot theologian and writer who led the exiled community in London, became known for articulating their criticism of the Pope and the doctrine of transubstantiation during Mass.
Of the refugees who arrived on the Kent coast, many gravitated towards Canterbury, then the county's Calvinist hub. Many Walloon and Huguenot families were granted asylum there. Edward VI granted them the whole of the western crypt of Canterbury Cathedral for worship. In 1825, this privilege was reduced to the south aisle and in 1895 to the former chantry chapel of the Black Prince. Services are still held there in French according to the Reformed tradition every Sunday at 3 pm.
Other evidence of the Walloons and Huguenots in Canterbury includes a block of houses in Turnagain Lane, where weavers' windows survive on the top floor, as many Huguenots worked as weavers. The Weavers, a half-timbered house by the river, was the site of a weaving school from the late 16th century to about 1830. (It has been adapted as a restaurant—see illustration above. The house derives its name from a weaving school which was moved there in the last years of the 19th century, reviving an earlier use.) Others refugees practised the variety of occupations necessary to sustain the community as distinct from the indigenous population. Such economic separation was the condition of the refugees' initial acceptance in the City. They also settled elsewhere in Kent, particularly Sandwich, Faversham and Maidstone—towns in which there used to be refugee churches.
The French Protestant Church of London was established by Royal Charter in 1550. It is now located at Soho Square. Huguenot refugees flocked to Shoreditch, London. They established a major weaving industry in and around Spitalfields (see Petticoat Lane and the Tenterground) in East London. In Wandsworth, their gardening skills benefited the Battersea market gardens. The Old Truman Brewery, then known as the Black Eagle Brewery, was founded in 1724. The flight of Huguenot refugees from Tours, France drew off most of the workers of its great silk mills which they had built. Some of these immigrants moved to Norwich, which had accommodated an earlier settlement of Walloon weavers. The French added to the existing immigrant population, then comprising about a third of the population of the city.
Some Huguenots settled in Bedfordshire, one of the main centres of the British lace industry at the time. Although 19th century sources have asserted that some of these refugees were lacemakers and contributed to the East Midlands lace industry, this is contentious. The only reference to immigrant lacemakers in this period is of twenty-five widows who settled in Dover, and there is no contemporary documentation to support there being Huguenot lacemakers in Bedfordshire. The implication that the style of lace known as 'Bucks Point' demonstrates a Huguenot influence, being a "combination of Mechlin patterns on Lille ground", is fallacious: what is now known as Mechlin lace did not develop until first half of the eighteenth century and lace with Mechlin patterns and Lille ground did not appear until the end of the 18th century, when it was widely copied throughout Europe.
Following the French Crown's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many Huguenots settled in Ireland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, encouraged by an act of parliament for Protestants' settling in Ireland. Huguenot regiments fought for William of Orange in the Williamite war in Ireland, for which they were rewarded with land grants and titles, many settling in Dublin. Significant Huguenot settlements were in Dublin, Cork, Portarlington, Lisburn, Waterford and Youghal. Smaller settlements, which included Killeshandra in County Cavan, contributed to the expansion of flax cultivation and the growth of the Irish linen industry.
For over 150 years, Huguenots were allowed to hold their services in Lady Chapel in St. Patrick's Cathedral. A Huguenot cemetery is located in the centre of Dublin, off St. Stephen's Green. Prior to its establishment, Huguenots used the Cabbage Garden near the Cathedral.
A number of Huguenots served as mayors in Dublin, Cork, Youghal and Waterford in the 17th and 18th centuries. Numerous signs of Huguenot presence can still be seen with names still in use, and with areas of the main towns and cities named after the people who settled there. Examples include the Huguenot District and French Church Street in Cork City; and D'Olier Street in Dublin, named after a High Sheriff and one of the founders of the Bank of Ireland. A French church in Portarlington dates back to 1696, and was built to serve the significant new Huguenot community in the town. At the time, they constituted the majority of the townspeople.
Around 1685, Huguenot refugees found a safe haven in the Lutheran and Reformed states in Germany and Scandinavia. Nearly 50,000 Huguenots established themselves in Germany, 20,000 of whom were welcomed in Brandenburg-Prussia, where they were granted special privileges (Edict of Potsdam) by Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia. The Huguenots furnished two new regiments of his army: the Altpreußische Infantry Regiments No. 13 (Regiment on foot Varenne) and 15 (Regiment on foot Wylich). Another 4,000 Huguenots settled in the German territories of Baden, Franconia (Principality of Bayreuth, Principality of Ansbach), Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, Duchy of Württemberg, in the Wetterau Association of Imperial Counts, in Electoral Palatinate and Palatinate-Zweibrücken, in the Rhine-Main-Area (Frankfurt), in modern-day Saarland; and 1,500 found refuge in Hamburg, Bremen and Lower Saxony. Three hundred refugees were granted asylum at the court of George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Celle.
In Berlin, the Huguenots created two new neighbourhoods: Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichstadt. By 1700, one-fifth of the city's population was French speaking. The Berlin Huguenots preserved the French language in their church services for nearly a century. They ultimately decided to switch to German in protest against the occupation of Prussia by Napoleon in 1806-07. Many of their descendents rose to positions of prominence. Several congregations were founded, such as those of Fredericia (Denmark), Berlin, Stockholm, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Helsinki, and Emden.
Prince Louis de Condé, along with his sons Daniel and Osias, arranged with Count Ludwig von Nassau-Saarbrücken to establish a Huguenot community in present-day Saarland in 1604. The Count supported mercantilism and welcomed technically skilled immigrants into his lands, regardless of their religion. The Condés established a thriving glass-making works, which provided wealth to the principality for many years. Other founding families created enterprises based on textiles and such traditional Huguenot occupations in France. The community and its congregation remain active to this day, with descendants of many of the founding families still living in the region. Some members of this community emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.
In Bad Karlshafen, Hessen, Germany is the Huguenot Museum and Huguenot archive. The collection includes family histories, a library, and a picture archive.
The exodus of Huguenots from France created a brain drain, as many Huguenots had occupied important places in society. The kingdom did not fully recover for years. The French crown's refusal to allow non-Catholics to settle in New France may help to explain that colony's slow rate of population growth compared to that of the neighbouring British colonies, which opened settlement to religious dissenters. By the time of the French and Indian War (the North American front of the Seven Years' War), a sizeable population of Huguenot descent lived in the British colonies, and many participated in the British defeat of New France in 1759-60.
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg invited Huguenots to settle in his realms, and a number of their descendants rose to positions of prominence in Prussia. Several prominent German military, cultural, and political figures were ethnic Huguenot, including poet Theodor Fontane, General Hermann von François, the hero of the First World War Battle of Tannenberg, Luftwaffe General and fighter ace Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe flying ace Hans-Joachim Marseille, and famed U-boat captain Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière. The last Prime Minister of the (East) German Democratic Republic, Lothar de Maizière, is also a descendant of a Huguenot family, as is the German Federal Minister of Defence, Thomas de Maizière.
The persecution and flight of the Huguenots greatly damaged the reputation of Louis XIV abroad, particularly in England. The two kingdoms, which had enjoyed peaceful relations prior to 1685, became bitter enemies and fought against each other in a series of wars (called the "Second Hundred Years' War" by some historians) from 1689 onward.
End of persecution and restoration of French citizenship
By the 1760s, Protestants comprised about 700,000 people, or 2% of the population. It was no longer a favorite religion of the elite; most Protestants were peasants. It was still the illegal, although the law was seldom enforced it could be a threat or a nuisance to Protestants. Calvinist lived primarily in the Midi; about 200,000 Lutherans lived in Alsace, where the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia still protected them.
Persecution of Protestants diminished in France after 1724, finally ending with the Edict of Versailles, commonly called the Edict of Tolerance, signed by Louis XVI in 1787. Two years later, with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789, Protestants gained equal rights as citizens.
The government encouraged descendants of exiles to return, offering them French citizenship in a 15 December 1790 Law: "All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals (naturels français) and will benefit from rights attached to that quality if they come back to France, establish their domicile there and take the civic oath." This is the first law offering the right of return.
Article 4 of 26 June 1889 Nationality Law stated: "Descendants of families proscribed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes will continue to benefit from the benefit of 15 December 1790 Law, but on the condition that a nominal decree should be issued for every petitioner. That decree will only produce its effects for the future."
Foreign descendants of Huguenots lost the automatic right to French citizenship in 1945 (by force of the Ordonnance du 19 octobre 1945, which revoked the 1889 Nationality Law). It states in article 3: "This application does not however affect the validity of past acts by the person or rights acquired by third parties on the basis of previous laws."
In the 1920s and 1930s, members of the extreme-right Action Française movement expressed strong animus against Protestants, as well as against Jews, and freemasons. They were regarded as groups supporting the French Republic, which Action Française sought to overthrow.
Today Protestants in France number about one million, or about two percent of the population. They are most concentrated in Alsace, in southeastern France and the Cévennes region in the south.
Apology and honours
In October 1985, to commemorate the tricentenary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, President François Mitterrand of France announced a formal apology to the descendents of Huguenots around the world. At the same time, the government released a special postage stamp in their honour. The stamp reads that "France is the home of the Huguenots" (Accueil des Huguenots).
A number of French churches are descended from the Huguenots, including:
- Reformed Church of France (l'Église Réformée de France)
- Evangelical Reformed Church of France (Union nationale des églises protestantes réformées évangéliques de France)
- New Paltz, New York 
- Charleston, SC is home to the only active Huguenot Church in the United States
- The early leaders John Jay and Paul Revere were of Huguenot descent.
- Francis Marion, an American Revolutionary War guerrilla fighter in South Carolina, was of predominantly Huguenot ancestry.
- Four-term Republican United States Representative Howard Homan Buffett was of Huguenot descent.
- Walloon Settlers Memorial (located in Battery Park) is a monument given to the City of New York by the Belgian Province of Hainaut in honor of the inspiration of Jessé de Forest in founding New York City. Baron de Cartier de Marchienne, representing the government and Albert I, King of Belgium, presented the monument to Mayor John F. Hylan, for the City of New York 18 May 1924.
- In 1924, the US issued a commemorative half-dollar, known as the "Huguenot-Walloon Half Dollar", to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Huguenots' settlement in what is now the United States.
- A neighbourhood in New York City's borough of Staten Island is named Huguenot, and has a Huguenot Avenue; the city of New Rochelle, New York, is named after La Rochelle, a former Huguenot stronghold in France.
- In Richmond, Virginia and the neighbouring Chesterfield County, there is a Huguenot Road. A Huguenot High School in Richmond and Huguenot Park in Chesterfield County, along with several other uses of the name throughout the region, commemorate the early refugee settlers.
- The Manakintown Church serves as a National Huguenot Memorial.
- Huguenot Memorial Park, Jacksonville, Florida
- Huguenot refugees in Prussia are thought to have contributed significantly to the development of the textile industry in that country.
Numerous people in South Africa are descended from Huguenots. Most of their ancestors originally settled in the Cape Colony, where they became assimilated into the Afrikaner and Afrikaans population. Many Afrikaners have French surnames, which are given Afrikaans pronunciation and orthography. The early immigrants settled in Franschhoek ("French Corner") near Cape Town. The Huguenots contributed greatly to the wine industry in South Africa.
The majority of Australians with French ancestry are descended from Huguenots. Some of the earliest to arrive in Australia held prominent positions in English society, notably Jane Franklin and Charles La Trobe.
Others who came later were from poorer families. They migrated to Australia from England in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to escape the poverty in the East End of London's Huguenot enclaves of Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. Their impoverishment had been brought about by the impact of the Industrial Revolution, which caused the collapse of the Huguenot-dominated silk-weaving industry. Many Australian descendants of Huguenots still consider themselves very much French, even in the twenty-first century.
The Huguenot cross is the distinctive emblem of the Huguenots (croix huguenote). It is now an official symbol of the Église des Protestants réformés (French Protestant church). Huguenot descendants sometimes display this symbol as a sign of reconnaissance (recognition) between them.
- Bible translations into French
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- Huguenot, Staten Island
- Huguenot Street Historic District
- Industrial Revolution
- Les Huguenots (opera)
- Guillebeau House
- Walloon church
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Huguenots.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Huguenots.|
|Look up huguenot in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Historic Huguenot Street
- Huguenot Fellowship
- Psalm 25 "A toi, mon Dieu, mon cœur monte" from the Genevan Psalter performed at an event at the cathedral in Noyon, France marking the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth in 2009. The music has been credited with little documentation to both Claude Goudimel and Louis Bourgeois. Only three of the ten verses of the original are performed here. YouTube video (3:06)
- The Huguenot Society of Australia
- Library for Huguenot History, Germany
- The National Huguenot Society
- The Huguenot Society of America
- Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland
- Mitterrand's Apology to the Huguenots (in French)
- Postage Stamp Commemorating the Apology
- Who were the Huguenots?
- Early Prayer Books of America: Being a Descriptive Account of Prayer Books Published in the United States, Mexico and Canada by Rev. John Wright, D.D. St Paul, MN: Privately Printed, 1898. Pages 188 to 210 are entitled "The Prayer Book of the French Protestants, Charleston, South Carolina." (597 pdfs)
- The French Protestant (Huguenot) Church in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Includes history, text of memorial tablets, and the rules adopted in 1869. (1898, 40 pdfs)
- La Liturgie: ou La Manière de célébrer le service Divin; Qui est établie Dans le Eglises de la Principauté de Neufchatel & Vallangin. (1713, 160 pdfs)
- La Liturgie: ou La Manière de célébrer le service Divin; Qui est établie Dans le Eglises de la Principauté de Neufchatel & Vallangin. Revised and corrected second edition. (1737, 302 pdfs)
- La Liturgie: ou La Manière de Célébrer le Service Divin, Comme elle est établie Dans le Eglises de la Principauté de Neufchatel & Vallangin. Nouvelle édition, Augmentée de quelques Prieres, Collectes & Cantiques. (1772, 256 pdfs)
- La Liturgie: ou La Manière de Célébrer le Service Divin, qui est établie Dans le Eglises de la Principauté de Neufchatel & Vallangin. Cinquieme édition, revue, corrigée & augmentée. (1799, 232 pdfs)
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- The Liturgy of the French Protestant Church, Translated from the Editions of 1737 and 1772, Published at Neufchatel, with Additional Prayers Carefully Selected, and Some Alterations. Arranged for the Use of the Congregation in the City of Charleston, S. C. New York, NY: Charles M. Cornwell, Steam Printer, 1869. (186 pdfs)
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- Manifesto, (or Declaration of Principles), of the French Protestant Church of London, Founded by Charter of Edward VI. 24th July, A.D. 1550. By Order of the Consistory. London, England: Messrs. Seeleys, 1850.
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