Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Huguenots

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Huguenots

Article excerpt

The Huguenots. By Geoffrey Treasure. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2013. Pp. xiv, 468. $27.50 paperback. ISBN 978-0-300-20866-5.)

The Huguenots and their troubled history have been the subject of countless scholarly as well as popular accounts. The present survey, directed primarily toward an informed public audience, concentrates on time-honored political, military, and religious themes. It offers a detailed narrative of the Huguenots in France from the beginning of the Reformation through the early-eighteenth century. As such, Geoffrey Treasure provides a helpful synthesis of substantial recent, principally Englishlanguage scholarship on the subject. The approach also means that, somewhat regrettably, he tends not to introduce new sources, explore fresh topics, or pursue original methodologies by which the Huguenot experience might be better understood and interpreted. This is, nonetheless, a highly readable and engaging book.

Treasure organizes the material chronologically, dividing the Huguenot past into five major epochs, to each of which he gives a particular focus. Thus, the study begins with an overview of France and the sixteenth-century disruption of its political and religious order. What was the kingdom's political constitution, the character of late-medieval Christianity, and the challenge posed byjohn Calvin and the Reformed movement? Treasure then launches into the heart of the matter. This second section poses several basic questions. How did Reformed communities go about establishing churches and asserting political and, more especially, military power? What did it mean to be a Huguenot, and how did a political-military party coalesce for the movement's defense? The breakpoint for everyone, Reformed and Catholic alike, was the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of August 1572. Part 3 traces the kingdom's dissolution into utter chaos in the wake of this horrific tragedy. Only by the end of the sixteenth century was King Henri IV able to restore peace. The Edict of Nantes (1598) granted the Huguenots civil status, legal protections, and the right to worship openly. …

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