French Huguenots in English-Speaking Lands

French Huguenots in English-Speaking Lands

French Huguenots in English-Speaking Lands

French Huguenots in English-Speaking Lands


Horton Davies taught successively at Rhodes University, South Africa, Oxford University, and Princeton University.


The problems confronting the Huguenots when the Edict of Nantes, which had given freedom of thought and expression to their forebears, was revoked, was similar to those of the various victims of the so-called cleansing measures of the twentieth century. For the Huguenots, however, it was spiritual, rather than ethnic, cleansing. They were either to conform to a faith in which they no longer believed or be expelled from the State. Their story is a tribute to the bravery, kindness, intelligence, flexibility, and other qualities that are also imbedded in the human heart.

The geographical scope of the book has been limited to the English- speaking lands, with an occasional reference to South Africa, where English has long been in competition with Afrikaans, so that it cannot be considered an English-speaking land in any exclusive sense. Our limitation to Britain, Ireland and North America is in no sense intended to imply that the Huguenot contributions were unimportant to Switzerland, Prussia, Scandinavia, Russia, Holland, and Belgium where their contributions have merited numerous studies. This study has been restricted because of a need for concentration and because of the wealth and variety of the Huguenot contributions to Britain and its original overseas empire, a large part of which eventually became the United States.

As for time, apart from some enlightening incursions into the past, it is largely limited to the period immediately preceding the Revocation in 1685 until the Edict of Toleration, in 1782. Afterwards, Huguenots had little reason to flee France, since the rising storm of the French Revolution brought another type of reformation that changed the entire political picture.

Chapter 1 outlines the historical background of the problems facing the Huguenots in their own beloved France. Their difficulties began and continued because of both royal and Roman Catholic determination to . . .

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