Were any of your ancestors French Huguenots? Mine were, coming from the little town of Uzes in the South West of France. They came because of persecution. The Edit de Fontainebleau (1685) was a sobering document. It stated that while Henri IV (“our ancester of glorious memory”) by the Edict of Nantes (1598) had wanted to prevent troubles because of the R.P.R. (Religion Prétendue Réformée), now that tactic is “useless,” as most of them had converted to the true (Roman Catholic) religion. So Fontainebleau made it illegal to practice the Reformed faith, to teach it, to hold worship services, and to have Protestant schools. Further, it forbade leaving the country, giving anyone who did four months to come back, or to face the galley ships and prison.
As it happened, while indeed the numbers had declined, there remained some 850,000 Huguenots up until 1685. Upon the revocation, at least 200,000 of them fled to other countries. Many more would follow. They enriched the countries to which they came, and impoverished France forever.
Won’t you consider joining us for an investigation of these events, and their significance, on the weekend of October 13-14, 2007? We will visit the historic town of New Paltz, New York, and hear lectures by Douglas Giebel, art historian from Roberts Wesleyan College. Why New Paltz? Because it was one of the major places of refuge for the Huguenots who fled to American shores. Founded in 1678, New Pfaltz was established by French Protestants who had temporarily fled to Mannheim, Germany at the revocation (the “f” was soon dropped, making it New Paltz). They established a Reformed church, a school, and various industries, soon growing into a flourishing population of believers who could experience religious freedom in America. Bitter-sweet!
Even if you cannot come, thank you for your faithful support for the cause of the Huguenot faith in France and around the world.
Very Truly Yours,
William Edgar, President