Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Huguenots or the French Reformed Church

You think times are bad? You think Christians are increasingly persecuted? You certainly are right. But read “The Huguenots or the Reformed French Church” by William Henry Foote (1794-1869) to put things in perspective and to realize what persecutions have preceded our times, what the issues where, and who the persecutors were. The time-frame that this book covers begins in 1494 with the birth of Francis I of France, who became a great persecutor of the reformed church, and ends with the death of Louis XVI in 1793 who was led to the guillotine during the French Revolution. Thus the story goes from persecuting to being persecuted and covers about 300 years. The “glory” of the French monarchy can only be described in terms of debauchery and materialism with the blessings, support, and protection of the Pope in Rome, his cardinals, and bishops in France who handsomely pocketed their share of the loot. The Huguenots made up the church of the Reformation in France. But they were also a political party calling for reforms in church and in politics. Their leaders were men like Admiral Coligny, Du Plessis Mornay and others. In the story you meet prominent historical reformers like John Calvin, who himself fled his homeland France during the reign of Francis I, Theodore Beza, William Farel, and Lefevre, who was one of the earliest reformers in France. There opponents were such luminaries as Catherine D’Medici, Cardinals like Loraine, Richlieu, and Mazarin, as well as the French kings and queens. While “Du Plessis Mornay and Coligny founded their statesmanship on truth and justice, between man and man, man and his king, man and his God”, the French kings would boast in their own perceived divinity and promote themselves by declaring “I am the State”. But great reformed women also take the stage. Without the patronage of bold women like the sister of Francis I, Marguerite Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret, Renee of Ferrara and others, the cause of the reformation would likely not have seen the light of day in France. Yet, the Huguenots suffered great setbacks in the Bartholomew’s massacre and the treacherous taking of Saumur. The Edict of Nantes made life tolerable for a time but the revocation about 90 years later under Louis XIV dealt a terrible deathblow to the reformation in France. The Huguenots fled France, if they could make it, and went to many European countries where they were welcomed and prospered. Thousands made their way, empty-handed, to the New Land and became settlers in the various colonies of North America, in particular Virginia, and the Carolinas. Their influence made a deep and lasting impression on this country. Reprint by Sprinkle Publications, 2002, Hardcover, Retail $45, OUR PRICE $36 --Hanno

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