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A Walloon church (French: Église Wallonne; Dutch: Waalse kerk) describes any Calvinist church in the Netherlands and its former colonies whose members originally came from the Southern Netherlands and France and whose native language is French. Members of these churches belong to the Walloon Reformed Church (French: Réformé wallon; Dutch: Waals Hervormd or, prior to 1815, Waals Gereformeerd), a demonination of the long-distinguished Dutch-speaking Dutch Reformed Church.
The French Calvinists, known also as Huguenots, were persecuted in France by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1598, King Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes, which was to relieve the persecution and allow rights to freely worship. However, in 1685 his grandson Louis XIV issued a Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking the prior edict, and persecution returned. Many Huguenots fled France to other countries offering safe harbor, with large numbers settling in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Cape Colony and parts of the New World (particular the colonies of the Carolinas, New York and Pennsylvania). Many of the technical skilled workers of the silk weaving industry left France with little or nothing, re-establishing their trades elsewhere. Many of these who left were also of French nobility, and it is said that little of the industry of France remained after this period.
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