The Huguenots: Refugees in the Hudson River Valley.

Essay by maggmagooHigh School, 10th gradeA+, April 2003

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What is a Huguenot? A Huguenot is a French Protestant of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Few in number, these Protestants suffered persecution from the French government and the French Catholic church. After religious struggles in France, the Huguenots fled their native land and scattered over Europe and North America.

The origin of the name Huguenot is uncertain. Some historians say the word is derived from the German term, Eidgenossen, meaning "confederates". (Colliers Encyclopedia) Others say the term is an extension of the name of Bezanson Hugues, a leader of the Geneva confederates, or Eidgenossen. (Encyclopedia Americana) The word could also refer to Hugues Capet, founder of the French royal house. (Encyclopedia Americana) However, legend states that the word Huguenot came from the legendary King Hugon or Huguet, whose spirit was thought to haunt a part of Tours where Huguenots met secretly each night. (Colliers Encyclopedia)

During the mid-1500's, the French Protestants grew stronger in number and influence.

The Catholic government in France persecuted them for this. The more the Huguenots grew, the more they were harassed. Through the entire fifteenth century, the Huguenots grew in number until the German Reformation reached France. Industry and learning flourished and the religious movement called "The Truth" spread rapidly over France. Over one-third of the French population converted to the Reformed Christian Faith. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) Though the French embraced these changes, the Vatican was not happy with them. The Catholics began a massacre on August 23, 1572 against the Protestants of France, forever known as the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. (Fig. 1) French soldiers and Roman Catholic clergy attacked unarmed citizens in the streets. (Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre) Men, women, and children fell in heaps. In one week, almost 100,000 Protestants died. (Saint Bartholomew's Day...