Why Huguenots Came To America.

Dear Reader: After sharing about Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre and the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the pervious post, I wanted to share why they fled to various nations, including America. The following article is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten.

God bless you. Carl

“Why is France today considered a mission field?”

The Wars of Religion began in France in 1562 between the Roman Catholics and the French Protestants called Huguenots. The Huguenots were led by the family of Henry of Navarre, a minor kingdom including a small portion of southern France and the present Spanish province of Navarre. Henry inherited the throne of Navarre from his staunchly Calvinist mother. When his cousin King Henry III of France died in 1589, he became heir to the throne of France. His Calvinism made him an unacceptable candidate in Catholic France until he embraced Catholicism in 1593. He was then crowned King Henry IV.

Once he became king, however, he did not forget his Huguenot roots, and in 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes. This agreement gave the Huguenots freedom of religion in certain areas of the country, civil equality, and fair administration of justice. It provided the Huguenots with a state subside for their troops and pastors and allowed them to retain control of approximately two hundred towns. The Edict of Nantes was historically unique in that it was the first time freedom was granted to two religions to coexist in a nation.

By the late 1600s Henry IV’s grandson, Louis XIV, was king of France. But Louis XIV shared none of his grandfather’s empathy for the Huguenots and on October 18, 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes. All Huguenot churches were either destroyed or turned in Catholic churches. Huguenot clergy were given fourteen days to leave France, but the remaining Huguenots were forbidden to emigrate. All children within France were to be baptized by a Catholic priest and raised as Catholics.

[Dear Reader: As time drew near for Louis XIV to meet his Maker, he inquired of his Roman Catholic priest as to what could he do to atone for the wicked things he had done in his life. The priest told him to exterminate the Protestants. To read about this time of persecution read “Six Centuries of Carnage” on this blog. If you scroll down under this blog, you will find it. ]

Mounted soldiers were housed in the homes of Huguenots. The troops were given license to do anything they pleased, short of murder. They forced their hosts to dance until they collapsed. They poured boiling water down their throats. They beat the soles of their feet and pulled out the hairs from their beards. The soldiers burned the arms and legs of their Huguenot hosts with candles and made them hold red-hot coals in their hands. They forced women to stand naked in the streets.

Some four hundred thousand “converts” were forced to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. Those who spat out the wafer as they left the [Catholic] church were sentenced to be burned alive. Obstinate Huguenot men were imprisoned in dungeons and unheated cells. The women sometimes fared better as they were sent to convents, where they often receive unexpectedly sympathetic treatment from the nuns.

Of the 1.5 million Huguenots living in France in 1660, over the next decades 400,000 risked their lives by escaping across the guarded borders. Geneva, a city of 16,000, welcomed four thousand Huguenots. Although they were Catholic, English kings Charles II and James II aided the Huguenot immigrants in their country. An entire quarter of London was soon populated with French workers. The elector of Brandenburg gave such a friendly reception to the Huguenots that over a fifth of Berlin was French by 1697. Holland welcomed thousands and gave them citizenship. Dutch Catholics joined Protestants and Jews in raising money for Huguenot relief. Many Huguenots fled to South Carolina and to the other colonies as well.

At the height of the Reformation nearly half of the population of France was Huguenot. But as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the intense persecutions that followed, today less than one percent of the French shares the faith of the Huguenots, making France a mission field for the gospel.”

The above history is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. If you are looking for a daily, historical devotional, I strongly recommend this book.

Considering all of this, is it any wonder that some of the early American colonies prohibited Catholics from settling in their colony? And that the Huguenots risked it all to reach a tolerant nation where they would have freedom of religion.

Today, Christians are being persecuted in many nations. It is our responsibility as born again believers and children of Almighty God to remember out brothers and sisters who are being prosecuted, tortured, kidnapped and murdered for their faith in the Muslin countries, Nigeria, Vietnam, Communist China, Hindu India, Mexico, Central America and other countries. Hebrew 13:3 says:

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated , since you yourselves also are in the body. “

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be with them and that they may persevere in the Faith, even unto death if necessary. Pray that their persecutors would be saved by the grace of God.

Thank you for your time.

Carl

Huguenots and St. Bartholomew’s Day

“The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me.” John 16:2-3

My ancestors from Guernsey Island, France were Huguenots (French Protestants). Following is an account of Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, one of the most horrible days in the history of Christianity, when an estimated 70,000* Huguenots were murdered just for being Protestants.

“In Paris on August 18, 1572, there were hopes for peace between the warring Catholics and Protestants. On this day a royal wedding between the Protestant king Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Margaret of Valois brought together the two hostile factions. Margaret was the sister of young King Charles IX of France and the daughter of Catherine de Medici, the powerful Queen Mother. Protestant and Catholic nobles who had fought each other for ten years turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding. The festivities lasted for days.

Calvinism had come to France in 1555. Soon there were two thousand French Reformed Churches, and nearly half of the population had embraced the Reformed faith. French Protestants became known as Huguenots.

Fighting broke out in 1562 with the massacre of Vassy, in which twenty-three Huguenots were killed and one hundred wounded. The Huguenots fought back in three successive “wars of religion.” Between 1562 and 1572 there were eighteen massacres of Huguenots, five of Roman Catholics and thirty assassinatons.

While Catherine the Queen Mother was planning her daughter’s wedding, she had also been plotting the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a popular French war hero who had become a leader of the Huguenots.

On August 22 the assassination attempt failed. This ignominious plot so soon after the royal wedding threatened to embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following night the twenty-two-year-old French King, brother of the bride, shouted to his mother in a fit of rage, ” If you are going to kill Coligny, why don’t you kill all the Huguenots in France, so that there will be no one left to hate me.”

Following this impetuous directive, Catherine ordered the murder of all the Huguenots leaders currently in Paris, including those who had attended the wedding. The massacre began August 24, 1572, which was St. Bartholomew’s Day. The gates of the city were closed so that no Huguenot could escape. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.

Many of the Huguenot nobles who were guests at the royal wedding were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as the appeared. King Charles watched approvingly.

During the night the homes of Paris Huguenots had each been marked with white crosses. Before daybreak messengers were sent throughout the city screaming, “Kill! Kill! The king commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Whole Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. Unborn children were cut from their dead mother’s bellies and smashed on the pavement. The dawn of St. Bartholomew’s Day revealed thousands of martyred Huguenots.

But the savagery was not without cost to the king, Charles IX soon began having nightmares about the massacre. In less than two years at the age of just twenty-four he was dying. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. “What bloodshed, what murders!” he cried to his nurse. “What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me! … I am lost!”

Reflection: The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was one of the worst days in the history of Christ’s Church. But Jesus warned that another day is coming that will be worst than this day. Are you ready for it if you live to experience that future awful day?

“For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again.” Matthew 24: 21

(Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (2003))

Dear Reader: The Pocket Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley states the following concerning the Roman Catholic Pope’s reaction to the Massacre:

“There was great rejoicing in Rome. The Pope and his College of Cardinals went, in solemn procession, to the Church of San Marco, and ordered the Te Deum to be sung in thanksgiving. The Pope struck a medal in commemoration of the Massacre; and sent a Cardinal to Paris to bear the King and Queen-Mother the Congratulations of Pope and Cardinals.”

* Pocket Bible Handbook -Henry H. Halley (1954)

Shocking isn’t it! Done all in the name of God! But what about you? Are you ready to meet your Maker. Are you at peace with God through Jesus Christ? For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We need a Redeemer. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself, not of works lest any man should boast. No church can save you. It is by Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone, to the glory of God alone. Cry out to Him now while there is still breath in your lungs. May you be ready.

Carl