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Huguenot in Amsterdam

From the 16th to the 18th century the name Huguenot was applied to a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of France, historically known as the French Calvinists.

Used originally as a term of derision, the derivation of the name Huguenot remains uncertain, however is believed to have originated in the city of Tours. Le roi Huguet, "King Huguet", was a generic name for ghosts who instead of being in purgatory came back to harm the living at night. Because of the practice of Protestants to venture out at night to their conventicles, priests began applying the nickname. The nickname may also have been a French corruption of the German word Eidgenosse, meaning a Confedera. te, perhaps in combination with a reference to the name Besançon Hugues (d 1532). Geneva was John Calvin's adopted home and the center of the Calvinist movement. In Geneva, Hugues was the leader of the "Confederate Party," so called because it favored an alliance between the city-state of Geneva and the Swiss Confederation. This theory of origin has support from the alleged fact that the label Huguenot was first applied in France to those conspirators (all of them aristocratic members of the Reformed Church) involved in the Amboise plot of 1560: a foiled attempt to transfer power in France from the influential House of Guise, a move which would have had the side-effect of fostering relations with the Swiss. Thus, Hugues plus Eidgenosse becomes Huguenot, with the intention of associating the Protestant cause with some very unpopular politics.

Like the first hypothesis, several others account for the name as being derived from German as well as French. O.I.A. Roche writes in his book The Days of the Upright, A History of the Huguenots that "Huguenot" is “ a combination of a Flemish and a German word. In the Flemish corner of France, Bible students who gathered in each other's houses to study secretly were called Huis Genooten, or 'house fellows,' while on the Swiss and German borders they were termed Eid Genossen, or 'oath fellows,' that is, persons bound to each other by an oath. Gallicized into 'Huguenot,' often used deprecatingly, the word became, during two and a half centuries of terror and triumph, a badge of enduring honor and courage. ”

Some discredit dual linguistic origins, arguing that for the word to have spread into common use in France, it must have originated in the French language. The "Hugues hypothesis" argues that the name can be accounted for by connection with Hugues Capet king of France, who reigned long before the Reform times, but was regarded by the Gallicans and Protestants as a noble man who respected people's dignity and lives. Frank Puaux suggests, with similar connotations, a clever pun on the old French word for a covenanter (a signatory to a contract). Janet Gray and other supporters of the theory suggest that the name huguenote would be roughly equivalent to little Hugos, or those who want Hugo.

In this last connection, the name could suggest the derogatory inference of superstitious worship; because, ignorant people believed that Huguon, the gate of King Hugo, was haunted by the ghost of Count Hugon (regarded by Catholics as an infamous scoundrel),[4] and it was in this place in Tours that the prétendus réformés ("these supposedly 'reformed'") habitually gathered at night, both for political purposes, and for prayer and to sing the psalms.[5] Similarly, some even suggest, les guenon de Hus (the monkeys or apes of Jan Hus) While this and the many other theories offer their own measure of plausibility, attesting at least to the wit of later partisans and historians, if not of the French people at the time of this term's origin, "no one of the several theories advanced has afforded satisfaction".

Since the eighteenth century they have been commonly designated "French Protestants", the title being suggested by their German co-religionists, or Calvinists, as being disciples of Calvin.

Early history and beliefs
The availability of the Bible in local language was important to the spread of the Protestant movement and the development of the Reformed church in France, and the country had a long history of struggles with the papacy by the time the Protestant Reformation finally arrived. Around 1294, a French version of the Scriptures was prepared by the Catholic priest, Guyard de Moulin. The first known Provençal language translation of the Bible had been prepared by the 12th century religious radical, Pierre de Vaux (Peter Waldo). Long after the sect was suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church, the remaining Waldensians sought to join William Farel and the Protestant Reformation, and Olivetan would publish a French Bible for them, but those who emerged from secrecy were eradicated by Francis I in 1545. A two-volume folio version of this translation appeared in Paris, in 1488.[citation needed]

Other predecessors of the Reformed church included the pro-reform and Gallican Roman Catholics, like Jacques Lefevre. The Gallicans briefly achieved independence for the French church, on the principle that the religion of France could not be controlled by the Bishop of Rome, a foreign power.[9] In the time of the Protestant Reformation, Lefevre, a professor at the University of Paris, prepared the way for the rapid dissemination of Lutheran ideas in France with the publication of his French translation of the New Testament in 1523, followed by the whole Bible in the French language, in 1528.[citation needed] William Farel was a student of Lefevre who went on to become a leader of the Swiss Reformation, establishing a Protestant government in Geneva. Jean Cauvin (John Calvin), another student at the University of Paris, also converted to Protestantism. The French Confession of 1559 shows a decidedly Calvinistic influence.

Sometime between 1550 and 1580, members of the Reformed church in France came to be commonly known as Huguenots

Criticisms of Roman Catholic Church
Above all, Huguenots became known for their fiery criticisms of worship as performed in the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the focus on ritual and what seemed an obsession with death and the dead. They believed the ritual, images, saints, pilgrimages, prayers, and hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not help anyone toward redemption. They saw Christian faith as something to be expressed in a strict and godly life, in obedience to Biblical laws, out of gratitude for God's mercy.

Like other Protestants of the time, they felt that the Roman church needed radical cleansing of its impurities, and that the Pope represented a worldly kingdom, which sat in mocking tyranny over the things of God, and was ultimately doomed. Rhetoric like this became fiercer as events unfolded, and stirred up the hostility of the Catholic establishment.

Violently opposed to the Catholic Church, the Huguenots attacked images, monasticism, and church buildings. Most of the cities in which the Huguenots gained a hold saw iconoclast attacks, in which altars and images in churches, and sometimes the buildings themselves were torn down. The cities of Bourges, Montauban and Orleans saw substantial activity in this regard.

Reform and growth
Huguenots faced periodic persecution from the outset of the Reformation; but Francis I (reigned 1515–1547) initially protected them from Parlementary measures designed for their extermination. The Affair of the Placards of 1534 changed the king's posture toward the Huguenots: he stepped away from restraining persecution of the movement.

Huguenot numbers grew rapidly between 1555 and 1562, chiefly amongst the nobles and city-dwellers. During this time, their opponents first dubbed the Protestants Huguenots; but they called themselves reformés, or "Reformed." They organized their first national synod in 1558, in Paris.

By 1562, the estimated number of Huguenots had passed one million, concentrated mainly in the southern and central parts of the country. The Huguenots in France likely peaked in number at approximately two million, compared to approximately sixteen million Catholics during the same period.

The French Wars of Religion
Millais' painting, A Huguenot and his Catholic lover on the eve of St. Bartholomew's dayThe French Wars of Religion began with a massacre at Vassy on March 1, 1562, when 23[4](some sympathetic sources say hundreds of the Huguenots were killed, and about 200 were wounded.


St. Bartholomew's Day massacre

The Huguenots transformed themselves into a definitive political movement thereafter. Protestant preachers rallied a considerable army and a formidable cavalry, which came under the leadership of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied themselves to the Huguenots, adding wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength, which at its height grew to sixty fortified cities, and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris over the next three decades.


An Eyewitness Account of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre by François Dubois (1790 - 1871).Main article: St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
In what became known as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 24 August – 17 September 1572, Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris. Similar massacres took place in other towns in the weeks following, with death toll estimates again ranging wildly, from thousands to as high as 110,000. An amnesty granted in 1573 pardoned the perpetrators.


Edict of Nantes
The fifth holy war against the Huguenots began on February 23, 1574. The conflict continued periodically until 1598, when Henry of Navarre, having converted to Catholicism and become King of France as Henry IV, issued the Edict of Nantes. The Edict granted the Protestants equality with Catholics under the throne and a degree of religious and political freedom within their domains. The Edict simultaneously protected Catholic interests by discouraging the founding of new Protestant churches in the Catholic-controlled regions.

With the proclamation of the Edict of Nantes, and the subsequent protection of Huguenot rights, pressures to leave France abated, as did further attempts at colonization. However, under King Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715), chief minister Cardinal Mazarin (who held real power during the king's minority up to his death in 1661) resumed persecution of the Protestants using soldiers to inflict dragonnades that made life so intolerable that many fled.


Edict of Fontainebleau
The king revoked the "irrevocable" Edict of Nantes in 1685 and declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fontainebleau. After this, huge numbers of Huguenots (with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000[3]) fled to surrounding Protestant countries: England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and Prussia — whose Calvinist Great Elector Frederick William welcomed them to help rebuild his war-ravaged and underpopulated country. The Huguenot population of France had dropped to 856,000 by the mid 1660s, of which a plurality was rural. The greatest populations of surviving Huguenots resided in the regions of Basse-Guyenne, Saintonge-Aunis-Angoumois and Poitou.

Huguenot exodus from France
French Huguenots already fought in the low lands alongside the Dutch and against Spain during the first years of the Dutch Revolt. The Dutch Republic became rapidly the exile haven of choice for Huguenots. Early ties were already visible in the Apologie of William the Silent, condemning the Spanish Inquisition and written by his court reverend Huguenot Pierre L'Oyseleur, lord of Villiers.

Louise de Coligny, sister of murdered Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny had married the calvinist Dutch revolt leader William the Silent. And as both spoke French in everyday life, their court church in the Prinsenhof in Delft was providing

French spoken Calvinist services, a practice still continued to today. The Prinsenhof is now one of the remaining 14 active Walloon churches of the Dutch Reformed Church.

These very early ties between Huguenots and the Dutch Republic's military and political leadership, the House of Orange-Nassau, since the early days of the Dutch Revolt explains the many early settlements of Huguenots in the Dutch Republic's colonies around Cape of Good Hope in South-Africa and the New Netherlands colony in America.

Stadtholder William III of Orange, who later became King of England, emerged as the strongest opponent of Louis XIV, after Louis' attack on the Dutch Republic in 1672. He formed the League of Augsburg as main opposition coalition. Consequently many Huguenots saw the wealthy and calvinist Dutch Republic, leading the opposition against Louis XIV, as the most attractive country for exile after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They also found established many more French speaking calvinist churches there.

The Dutch Republic received the largest group of Huguenot refugees with an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict. Amongst them were 200 reverends. This was a huge influx, the entire population of the Dutch Republic amounted to ca. 2 million at that time. Around 1700 it is estimated that near 25% of the Amsterdam population was Huguenot. Amsterdam and the area of West-Frisia were the first areas providing full citizens rights to Huguenots in 1705, followed by the entire Dutch Republic in 1715. Huguenots married with Dutch from the outset.

One of the most prominent Huguenots refugees to the Netherlands was Pierre Bayle, who started teaching in Rotterdam, while publishing his multi-volume masterpiece Historical and Critical Dictionary. Which became one of the one hundred foundational texts that formed the first collection of the US Library of Congress.

Most Huguenot descendents in the Netherlands today are recognisable by French family names with typical Dutch surnames. Due to their early ties with the Dutch Revolt's leadership and even participation in the revolt, parts of the Dutch patriciate is of Huguenot descent. After 1815, when the Netherlands became a monarchy under the House of Orange-Nassau, some Huguenot patriciate families have been provided with an aristocratic predicate.

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