The Huguenots

The Huguenots

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 488
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  • Book Info
    The Huguenots
    Book Description:

    Following the Reformation, a growing number of radical Protestants came together to live and worship in Catholic France. These Huguenots survived persecution and armed conflict to win-however briefly-freedom of worship, civil rights, and unique status as a protected minority. But in 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes abolished all Huguenot rights, and more than 200,000 of the radical Calvinists were forced to flee across Europe, some even farther.

    In this capstone work, Geoffrey Treasure tells the full story of the Huguenots' rise, survival, and fall in France over the course of a century and a half. He explores what it was like to be a Huguenot living in a "state within a state," weaving stories of ordinary citizens together with those of statesmen, feudal magnates, leaders of the Catholic revival, Henry of Navarre, Catherine de' Medici, Louis XIV, and many others. Treasure describes the Huguenots' disciplined community, their faith and courage, their rich achievements, and their unique place within Protestantism and European history. The Huguenot exodus represented a crucial turning point in European history, Treasure contends, and he addresses the significance of the Huguenot story-the story of a minority group with the power to resist and endure in one of early modern Europe's strongest nations.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19619-1
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  5. Preface
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
      (pp. 3-11)

      Protestants in a Catholic country, Huguenots were only for a short time more than a tenth of the French population. By 1598 they had settled to being under a million. Yet in one way or another, in faithful lives, in persecution, in rebellion reluctant or eager, in arts, crafts and skills of great value to their society, in heroic acceptance of sacrifice, they were influential beyond their numbers as, eventually, they would be beyond the borders of France. The transformation of separate households and communities into a close-knit organisation with the capacity to defend itself and, after the ‘Religious Wars’,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Renaissance Kingship and Noble Subjects
      (pp. 12-23)

      The rule of Francis I (1515–47) and Henry II (1547–59), those splendid exemplars of Renaissance kingship, gaining by contrast with the faltering grip of the later Valois kings, had been at times brutally autocratic and had seen advances in authority and outreach. It benefited from favourable economic conditions following the recovery that had begun with the end of war against England in 1453 (leaving only Calais in English hands). It led, with a rise in population, to a degree of prosperity that made the first years of the sixteenth century seem to later generations like a golden age.²...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Special Relationship
      (pp. 24-30)

      In the organic image of commonwealth, as outlined by John of Salisbury and since proved durable to the point of truism – the prince being the head, the senate the heart – the church was the soul of monarchy, the animating principle of the whole.² Thesacre, or coronation, at Reims symbolised the mystique. The state, represented by princes of the blood and peers ecclesiastical and lay, was assembled around the king as he swore the ‘oath of the church’: ‘I shall protect canonical privilege, due law and justice, and I shall exercise defence of each bishop and each church...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Power of the Word
      (pp. 31-41)

      A painting of the coronation of Louis XII (1498) was superscribed: ‘Ung Dieu, Ung Roi, Ung Foi’. By mid-century it had become a standard heraldic device. The coronation oath of his successor Francis I (1515) had a sharper emphasis: conventionally he pledged to promote peace and justice in Christendom; now specifically to expel heretics from his dominions. Within a year he had won a crucial struggle withParlementover the registration of the Concordat of Bologna.Parlement’s main concern was for the Gallican liberties and the independence of which the court was the natural guardian. The Sorbonne,² though often through...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Every Man His Own Priest
      (pp. 42-50)

      Although it was Radical in theology, it became clear that Lutheranism was socially conservative when Luther, confronted by a vacuum, came to look to traditional authority in the form of ‘the godly prince’. When, in 1525 the peasants of south Germany rose against their masters Luther, though sympathetic at first, denounced them for their misunderstanding of his doctrines. He never believed in a theocracy, preferred secular to priestly power and urged that ‘strict, hard, temporal government’ was essential for the sake of peace.² Of course peace did perish as Germany divided into opposing camps, the Imperial and the Protestant leagues....

    • CHAPTER SIX The French Church, Humanism and the Pre-Reform
      (pp. 51-62)

      King Francis was slow at first to turn his mind to France’s ‘Lutherans’, as they would continue to be called till after mid-century and to the evolution of a new church, taking its structure and theology from Calvin. He acted, at first reluctantly, but without apparent misgivings about his duty to execute or expel. The Pope was constrained by the terms of the Concordat of Bologna and faced diplomatic and legal obstacles before he could act; so church discipline was, in effect, in the hands of the king. At the outset, however, what was a heretic? What of those who...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN ‘God Will Change the World’
      (pp. 63-74)

      Guillaume Farel (1489–1565) was for a time regent of the Collège Cardinal Le Moine in Paris. Impatient with the constraints of academic life, he left Paris to join the congregation at Meaux. From around 1520 he was one of the most fervent advocates of reform. From personal conversion to preaching missions, with temporary stays at Strasbourg, Berne and Geneva, his career reveals something of the dynamics of early Protestantism. Looking back from middle age he described to a friend how he had been converted. He had been faithful to Catholicism, read the Bible ‘because the Pope gave it authority’...

      (pp. 75-83)

      In this confusing scene the only source of unity and coherence of thought and action was the untiring pen of John Calvin. The prime instruments of conversion, alone exhibiting anything like a common purpose, were the missionaries and pastors he trained for service and continued to direct when they returned to their native land. From 1542 theInstitutiowas available in a French edition. Between then and 1559, the year of the first French synod, with representatives from many parts of the country, French Protestantism moved unevenly, but in one direction: towards the foundation of a single church, accepting a...

      (pp. 84-96)

      At the eastern end of Lake Geneva, the city had a busy commercial past. A German-style prince-bishopric, in the early fifteenth century it came under the sway of Savoy when its duke acquired the right to appoint its bishop. To counter Savoyard control Geneva formed links with neighbouring cantons, Fribourg and Berne that led eventually to joint citizenship in the Swiss Association. In the association Geneva was suspect as an outpost of French influence, arising out of common language and old ties between churches. When, however, Louis XI established quarterly trade fairs at Lyons money talked and the Medicis transferred...

    • CHAPTER TEN Persecution and Growth
      (pp. 99-106)

      With the accession of Henry II in 1547 came a more consistent and relentless policy towards his deviant subjects. He was orthodox, shrewd, but narrower than his father in his conception of royal duty. His experience of imprisonment as Charles V’s hostage for six years had left scars. He seems to have had two overmastering concerns: to defeat the man who had so humiliated him; and to root out the heretics who defied the tradition of the realm and threatened its security. To try them he established a special tribunal inParlement, the Chambre Ardente.

      There were as yet no...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Why Be a Huguenot?
      (pp. 107-121)

      The protestant message could appeal in crowded cities where employment failed to match the needs of a rising population and the expectations of skilled workers. Such places were Senlis, Orléans, Rouen and Tours. ‘It was not solely against doctrinal corruptions and against ecclesiastical abuses but also against misery and iniquity that the lower classes rebelled,’ wrote Hauser. ‘They sought in the Bible not only for the doctrine of salvation by grace but for proofs of the primitive equality of all men.’² But who were these ‘lower classes’? Surely not those at the bottom, the illiterate and chronically indigent, though some...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE A Party Forms
      (pp. 122-133)

      There were as many different experiences as there were Protestant communities; yet increasingly there was regularity and a common order. So what was it coming to mean to be a Huguenot? It was around 1560 that French Calvinists seem generally to have adopted the name.² In official state parlance, as in the Edict of Beaulieu in 1576, they would be RPR –réligion prétendue réformée. The word Huguenot is of uncertain origin; as often with such party names, accidental, even abusive, later assumed with pride. One possible source, already noticed, was theEidgenossen, Genevan confederates bound together by oath. It...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Towards War
      (pp. 134-145)

      After 1552 and the successful Lutheran rebellion led by Maurice of Saxony, aided by France, Emperor Charles V had suffered humiliating defeats and checks. He appeared to be a broken man. After Lutheranism had taken hold of much of Germany it had been the great business of his reign to avoid being party to a settlement by which the faith held by all Christians for a thousand years might be injured, or disgraced: a heartfelt elegy for a past world.¹ His brother Ferdinand was more realistic. His prime concern was with holding back the Turks from his eastern frontiers. He...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN A Kingdom Divided
      (pp. 146-155)

      On 1 march 1562 the duc de Guise was returning from Württemberg when his troops came across 300 Huguenots worshipping in a barn just outside the wall of the small town of Vassy. Ordered to disperse, the worshippers refused and were then fired on; a number were killed. Guise denied having ordered the attack and issued his version of events. Huguenots apparently pelted him with stones; one struck him on the face. Who fired first? In this case, as in other ‘Bloody Sundays’, it has been impossible to determine. For reputation’s sake, or from genuine remorse, Guise later sought to...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Battle, Murder and Deadly Consequences
      (pp. 156-166)

      As reports arrived, post-Vassy, of Huguenot insurrections all over the country, fearing the collapse of royal authority and considering her choices, Catherine had chosen that which was probably most objectionable to her: war, under the Triumvirate.² It was to be the first of nine civil wars over thirty-six years. Each had distinct causes and each had certain new features, with new men at the head of parties. Underlying all, however, was the same intractable problem: how to reconcile Catholic monarchy with the existence of a Calvinist church and regime that came, increasingly, to look like a separate state, in some...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Day
      (pp. 167-176)

      The silence of Gillette, sole survivor of her Huguenot family, says much, if not all, about a dreadful event. The massacre that started in Paris in the early hours of St Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August 1572, continued for three days and was then repeated in a dozen other towns, has a special place in Huguenot history.² The effect on so many families; the horrors revealed in individual stories; the psychological impact; the apparent ascendancy of sectarian passion over human feeling; for Huguenots the sense of betrayal; for some of them the loss of confidence in a righteous cause; the crippling...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN A Failing State
      (pp. 179-194)

      It was evident to foreign observers, and of deep concern to the king’s loyal Secretaries that the massacre of St Bartholomew’s was leading to a loosening of the traditional bonds of authority, if not yet by complete disintegration. Revolutionary ideas gained credence and publicity. New political liaisons formed, short-lived, unstable, and so doubly dangerous. More evident than at any time since the end of the English wars was the determination of territorial magnates, reckless or simply realistic, to create their own empires of authority and influence.

      After 1572 French Protestants, shocked and angry, were openly at war with the crown....

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN The Struggle Intensifies
      (pp. 195-207)

      The priest who gave Anjou absolution was in no doubt about the significance of his death: ‘the 10th of June will forever bear witness to our misfortune … the year 1584 is indeed a year of revolution’. The Guise, as Pierre l’Estoile noted, ‘took great heart. TheSainte Union, from that moment, began to grow stronger as France grew weaker.’² The League, as it was generally known, composed of cells for local activists to control the city and promote Catholicism, would provide precedents for future agents of revolution; now it was set to play a crucial role in the last...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Henry IV, King of France
      (pp. 208-223)

      At once Henry would have been aware of the ambivalence of his situation. With France he inherited its Gallican Catholic tradition. To his Huguenot followers he owed loyalty and protection – if not some sign that he was genuinely of their faith. He temporised; his priority was to fight the League. Meanwhile the most he could do for the Huguenots was to offer a sign of blessings to come. Guided by Duplessis-Mornay he issued in July 1591 the Letters Patent of Mantes broadly imitating the pacification of 1577,² re-establishing the bipartisan courts and, in principle, payment to pastors. It was...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY The Edict of Nantes
      (pp. 224-235)

      The king knew that he could not hope to satisfy both Catholics and Huguenots, that all but the most moderate would leave Nantes with reservations and resentments. Many might be relieved that there was peace but they would surely assume that this was another provisional settlement, made under duress, a position from which to make further gains. Like England’s Elizabeth, in a situation of comparable difficulty, Henry liked to talk ambiguously, if at all, about his private religious views. He should not, however, be reinvented as a secular-minded monarch who, in some prescient modern way, viewed the salvation of the...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE The Regime of the Edict
      (pp. 236-243)

      If the partisan spirit was temporarily subdued, if the crown was strong, neither condition could be guaranteed for the future. In both camps, as ever in matters of religion, there were men for whom truth was absolute, action imperative; who saw the Edict as a point of departure for new missionary activity. Even those who accepted that schism was irremediable commonly deplored it. We can see that the achievement of a settlement that allowed for, and afforded protection to, a religious minority surprised contemporaries, not least in England where Catholics, subject to recusancy fines, endured a more restricted and costly...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Catholic Reformation
      (pp. 244-253)

      On 14 may 1610, halted in his carriage by the congestion in a narrow Parisian street, the king was stabbed to death by François Ravaillac. A poor teacher from Angoulême, after years of rejection and hardship he had become obsessed with the idea that Huguenots planned a massacre and that the king was failing in his duty to protect his Catholic subjects, indeed planning to make war on the Pope. So he seems to offer a classic case of hallucinatory killer. He also witnesses to the effect on a disordered mind of political theories that condoned tyrannicide, and the unceasing...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Ventures Too Far
      (pp. 254-261)

      Prudence might have suggested that this was not a time for Huguenots to be involved in the cause of Condé, the man whom they regarded as the supreme renegade and their sworn enemy. To exert maximum pressure on the regent Condé had enlisted leading Huguenots, notably Bouillon and La Force. Huguenots could now be stigmatised as rebels, as some undoubtedly were. After Louis XIII’s bold coup of April 1617 and the murder of Concini the king, having always at his elbow the man who had prompted the coup, his firm favourite, the duc de Luynes, made no secret of his...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR The Great Siege
      (pp. 262-268)

      After the peace of Montpellier it was not inconceivable that La Rochelle would be left in peace. Several developments determined otherwise, as did the timing of operations against it: the arrival to power of Cardinal Richelieu in 1624; his abortive attempt to secure the Val Telline; the Huguenot rising that contributed to that failure; and politics within the city. How these worked together towards royal triumph and Huguenot disaster becomes clear as the story unfolds. Events rather than theory determined the minister’s policy. As Tapié puts it: ‘While the traditional theory credits Richelieu with the intention of destroying the Huguenot...

  10. PART FOUR: 1629–1661.: A GOLDEN AGE
    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE ‘The Little Flock’
      (pp. 271-282)

      Often called a peace, for that was its effect and one that lasted for fifty-six years, Alès actually took the form of a remission or act of grace, a royal pardon. It confirmed the Edict of Nantes but only in its original and basic text. The extra provisions that had guaranteed the Huguenots’ political and military rights were cancelled. They were allowed to hold assemblies for the airing of social or political concerns but only with royal permission: it would generally be withheld. All their remaining fortifications were to be demolished. Richelieu stayed in Languedoc to supervise the work. A...

      (pp. 283-300)

      Storms past – so what of the future? Or was the present sufficiently comfortable? Whatever misgivings some may have felt, for the majority of Huguenots in the middle years of the century the situation was more or less stable, life had much of normality; the bad days of war were a receding memory, and early days, the time of the ‘martyrs’, belonged to family history, a matter of pride or sustaining myth. Is it then a time to pause, before looking further at their lives to decide how many there were that still professed the religion? It is no straightforward...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN A Pastoral and Spiritual Crisis
      (pp. 301-306)

      The future of Protestantism in France will come to depend ultimately on the attitude and policies of the crown. Ministers take their cue from information from the provinces, as relayed byintendantsand, less objectively, by bishops; but also from their reading of the royal mind. For Louis XIV there will be high political and diplomatic considerations. But sentiment in the country will not be irrelevant. How Catholic France views matters, in those parts especially where there is daily interaction with the alternative confession, will carry weight at Versailles.

      In March 1661 Mazarin’s death prompted Louis to assume the direction...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT Revision or Reunion?
      (pp. 307-314)

      The questioning of core beliefs was not limited to France. At the start of the century followers of Arminius, ‘Remonstrants’ as they were called in Holland, believed that Christ died for all believers; they had given up predestination and accepted the right of the ruler to control religion.² In so doing they seriously qualified Calvin’s essential tenet: the single and absolute nature of God’s sovereignty. These liberal views were condemned at the synod of Dordt (1619) but they had continued to gain ground at the expense of Calvinist orthodoxy.

      In its French theatre Calvinist theology was further tested by the...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE Uncertain Times
      (pp. 317-325)

      The traditional affection for the monarchy survived the Fronde; if anything, it was strengthened by the experience. By 1661, when Mazarin’s death left Louis XIV in sole control, it had become a powerful force for order and justice. Louis had been severely tested in the dangers and humiliation of civil war and carefully schooled by the cardinal to profit by the experience. Courtiers saw a handsome young man, relishing his first taste of independent power, shorter than portraits would show, robust, energetic, evidently unconstrained by his diplomatic marriage to Spain’s Infanta Maria Theresa and not averse to sexual adventure. They...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY Mars Ascendant
      (pp. 326-335)

      For all the early flurry of restrictive edicts there is little to suggest, in the first two decades of rule, that Louis thought the Huguenot question of prime importance. War was on his mind, and with it domestic security. He was aware too that there were numerous Huguenots serving in his armies. For the time being their families and friends could be left alone. It was enough that in war against the Dutch, their leading provinces dominated by Calvinists, Louis would prove his Catholic credentials. There were other, more material causes for the invasion of August 1672 and they should...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE Temptations and Trials
      (pp. 336-342)

      A scheme tried out in 1676 by Le Camus, the earnest, evangelising bishop of Grenoble, backed conversions among the Vaudois by a fund to compensate ministers for their loss of livelihood. It was managed by Le Camus’ friend Paul Pellisson, first using the revenues of abbeys St Germain-de-Prés and Cluny, of which he was treasurer, then expanded into thecaisse de conversions, with other benefices vacant following therégaledispute between king and Pope. Several strands in the contemporary religious scene can be picked out from the story of this talented Huguenot convert who did so much to bring about...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO Towards Resolution
      (pp. 343-352)

      In March 1681 Louvois authorised Marillac,intendantin Poitou, to billet a regiment of dragoons on Huguenot families. He would soon regret it. There were precedents for such billeting. It had been tried in Gex, in 1661. In Brittany, following the serious rising there in 1675, it served as a brutal warning against repeating such an offence. It was generally acknowledged to be the worst fate that could befall a community. In September 1678 Locke was told by ‘a poor bookseller’s wife’ (Protestant) at Niort that there were 1,200 quartered in the town the previous winter: the two allocated to...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE Force Majeure
      (pp. 353-358)

      Each year since 1679 had seen harsher measures against what remained, outwardly, of Protestantism. The state had already intruded on the home with the ban on private worship. Fewer temples were left where Huguenots could meet for public worship. In December, on the feast of St Stephen men might have noted, all services where the local community had fewer than ten families were forbidden. In February 1685 penalties were announced for pastors who ‘have allowed people into their place of worship to whom the king had already required them to forbid entry’.² After 16 June marriage abroad was no longer...

      (pp. 359-368)

      After the Edict of Fontainebleau the remaining Huguenots were left with several options, each painful. They could join the ranks of thenouveaux convertis, despised by those who remainedferme;resented by thevieux catholiques, not least for their tax privileges and other inducements real or imagined; assumed by both sides to be in some degree hypocritical. In some parts they would soon have to pay for their own police protection. If they had held out this long, or been persuaded finally by the dragoons, it was unlikely that ‘conversion’ would mean more than observance of outward forms, superficial at...

      (pp. 369-375)

      Theory apart, in the arena of power politics, the effect of the Revocation on diplomatic relations would one day be seen to have been momentous. Meanwhile it was bound to take time for Louis and his ministers, preoccupied with the campaigns of the war of the League of Augsburg¹ and heartened by the victories of Luxembourg,² to come to terms with the alteration in the balance of power. The costs of war apart, as measured in interest on soaring debt, fiscal expedients and higher taxes, the emigration of so many Huguenots had observable effects on the economy. Observable through a...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX Huguenotism Recovers its Soul: WAR IN THE CÉVENNES
      (pp. 376-383)

      Rich indeed was the contribution of Huguenots to the rest of the Protestant world. But most stayed, struggling to survive, in their native land, resisters of two kinds: the bold, even desperate, resorting to arms; the passive majority, more cautious, not necessarily less courageous. With them we reach the last pages in our story. Whether they were known to the authorities and left alone as hopeless cases, harassed to the point of seeking to escape, or undergoing a nominal conversion (or being offered teaching that could lead to a sincere change of mind), Huguenots coped in ways that lead to...

      (pp. 384-387)

      The witness of the Huguenots who stayed, under cover of some kind, ranged from household worship, beneath the outward conformity that was bound to be the recourse of the majority, to the clandestine open air gatherings that still attracted some in the more remote regions. It was now a scattered church for which the termDésert, with its biblical image, was appropriate and a source of pride. In a body now compelled to find new ways of worshipping and maintaining community there was also a visible, if temporary change in the balance of authority. Typically, though specially among the larger...

  12. Afterword: Strangers and Citizens
    (pp. 388-391)

    In each category mentioned the names of Gribelin, Basire, de Vaux, Portal, Vaillant, Marot, Bonneau, Monlong, Harache, Motteux, Seigneuret, Leman, Ogier, Misaubin, Papin, Desaguliers, Dollond, de Moivre, Maty, Rapin, Houblon, Bouverie and Castaing may be chosen to represent a range of individual or family experiences. They offer us a retrospective, as it were camera shots of individuals in a society that has been described so far in more general terms. They are not necessarily the most famous or talented of Huguenots but they tended to establish dynasties. They convey together the value, material and cultural, that accrued to the country...

  13. Glossary
    (pp. 392-395)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 396-440)
  15. Further Reading
    (pp. 441-450)
  16. Index
    (pp. 451-468)