The Huguenots: Refugees In The Hudson River Valley.

1784 words - 7 pages

What is a Huguenot? A Huguenot is a French Protestant of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Few in number, these Protestants suffered persecution from the French government and the French Catholic church. After religious struggles in France, the Huguenots fled their native land and scattered over Europe and North America.The origin of the name Huguenot is uncertain. Some historians say the word is derived from the German term, Eidgenossen, meaning "confederates". (Colliers Encyclopedia) Others say the term is an extension of the name of Bezanson Hugues, a leader of the Geneva confederates, or Eidgenossen. (Encyclopedia Americana) The word could also refer to Hugues Capet, founder of the French royal house. (Encyclopedia Americana) However, legend states that the word Huguenot came from the legendary King Hugon or Huguet, whose spirit was thought to haunt a part of Tours where Huguenots met secretly each night. (Colliers Encyclopedia)During the mid-1500's, the French Protestants grew stronger in number and influence. The Catholic government in France persecuted them for this. The more the Huguenots grew, the more they were harassed. Through the entire fifteenth century, the Huguenots grew in number until the German Reformation reached France. Industry and learning flourished and the religious movement called "The Truth" spread rapidly over France. Over one-third of the French population converted to the Reformed Christian Faith. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) Though the French embraced these changes, the Vatican was not happy with them. The Catholics began a massacre on August 23, 1572 against the Protestants of France, forever known as the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. (Fig. 1) French soldiers and Roman Catholic clergy attacked unarmed citizens in the streets. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) Men, women, and children fell in heaps. In one week, almost 100,000 Protestants died. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) The rivers of France were so full of corpses, fish was not eaten for several months. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre was just one of the the massacres in the series of wars known as The Wars of Religion.The Edict of Nantes, issued in 1598, was the beginning of a short, yet needed, time of peace in France. King Henry IV, a Protestant converted to Catholicism, issued this edict in order to restore peace in France. The Edict of Nantes gave Huguenots civil liberties as well as liberty of conscience, allowing them to worship publicly. (Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) This short-lived era of peace in France ended when King Louis XIV took the throne in 1665.Remaining law for almost a century, the Edict of Nantes survived through varied forms of opposition. Louis XIV, upon taking the throne, began tearing down the building blocks of peace in France by issuing a series of over 200 orders and laws which slowly took away Huguenot protection. (Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) On January 29,...

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