- The Huguenot Diaspora in the Anglophone World
Three key moments that shaped Huguenot existence, dislocation, and migration from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries were: the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572), the siege and fall of La Rochelle (1627–28), and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685). While the Huguenots' origin, influence, and plight continue to engage Reformation Scholars, the fate of those who fled persecution has received little attention from French historians. The history of Huguenot refugees is left largely to scholars of countries that took them in. Three recent works examine various facets of the Huguenot diaspora and resettlement in the English-speaking world on both sides of the Atlantic and reveal diversity in how the Huguenot exile communities adapted to their new homes and in the coping strategies they employed to survive and even prosper.
The Religious Culture of the Huguenots, 1660–1750 consists of ten essays that explore exile communities established in England, Ireland, and North America as Huguenots fled escalating violence under Louis XIV, who launched the dragonnades in 1681 leading up to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The first section of essays addresses a key decision the refugees faced soon after they arrived in exile—whether to conform to Anglican worship. Robin Gwynn in "Conformity, Non-conformity and Huguenot Settlement in England in the Later Seventeenth Century" reveals how changes in English policies under James II allowed French refugees to establish nonconformist congregations. London in particular became an important center of French Protestant refugees who wanted to maintain their religious practices. Susanne Lachenicht also finds a strong preference for nonconformity in "Differing Perceptions of the Refuge? Huguenots in Ireland and Great Britain and Their Attitudes towards the Governments' Religious [End Page 262] Policy (1660–1710)." Lachenicht asserts that Ireland, in its desire to attract more Protestants, established policies amenable to French exiles and that efforts by the Church of Ireland to push conformity onto the French congregations ex post facto were not particularly successful. Both Gwynn and Lachenicht assert that even with potential financial benefits, including state support of ministers, most Huguenots in England and Ireland preferred not to embrace Anglican conformity.
The essays in part three of the collection examine intellectual trends indebted to Huguenot exiles. S. J. Savonius, in one of the more intriguing essays of the collection, examines the influence of Huguenot intellectuals on the ideas of John Locke. He reminds the modern reader that Locke was a radical thinker and that some of this radicalism originated from Locke's contact with French Protestants living in exile in the Netherlands. According to Savonius, "Locke became associated with a particular group of Protestants whose anti-authoritarianism and commitment to the ideal of truthful outspokenness mark them out as the protagonists of a specific ideology" (160). Contact with the Huguenots informed Locke's criticism of established educational traditions, especially in the area of rhetorical training. Savonius points to Locke's involvement in the recruitment of tutors from among French Protestant refugees as further proof of his affinity for new educational approaches used in the Reformed tradition.
Overall, the essays of this volume reveal Huguenot communities composed of merchants, soldiers, and artisans establishing new lives in English-speaking countries by participating in charity among their own, fighting in William of Orange's army, and engaging in a wide variety of intellectual traditions. These essays are too brief to explore fully the topics introduced, but they do raise some questions for further consideration. For example, Matthew Glozier, in his essay "Killing in Good Conscience: Marshal Schomberg and the Huguenot Soldiers of the Diaspora," mentions that the soldier class held itself apart from other refugees. What complications resulted from Calvinist exclusivity? How was Huguenot nonconformity viewed...