Wednesday, November 30, 2016

5 Things You Didn't Know About Huguenots

The Huguenots were French citizens who followed the teachings of John Calvin during the Protestant Reformation. Ultimately, however, they were forced to convert to the state religion or face punishment, imprisonment, or even death. In response, as many as 400,000 Huguenots fled France, never to return. A hardworking and intelligent people, the Huguenots have left a tremendous legacy around the world. Here are five things you may not know about the Huguenots.

1. The word "Huguenot" was originally an insult. French Protestants preferred to call themselves l'église réformée, or the Reformed Church. Though the word "Huguenot" started out as derogatory, it eventually became identified with enduring honor and courage in the face of persecution. Once it lost its stigma, the label was adopted by the Huguenots themselves.

2. The massive exodus of the Huguenots from France caused a serious "brain drain" for the country. A large majority of French Huguenots were entrepreneurs, artisans, officials, teachers, etc., and the loss of so much skill and expertise had a huge, negative impact on the French economy.

3. Perhaps because of their own history of persecution, many French Huguenots helped to hide Jews during World War II. In the plateau region village of Le Chambon Sur Lignon, for example, religious leaders openly preached against Nazism and ethnic discrimination and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help place Jews—and especially Jewish children—in the homes of local Huguenots. Learn more about this fascinating part of history in the book Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France (The Resistance Trilogy Book 2).

4. There is an active modern-day Huguenot church in Charleston, SC. The French Huguenot Church of Charleston, SC, even holds a special service in French each spring, to celebrate the Edict of Nantes, and one in the fall, to recognize the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Services are open to the public.

5. You can experience Huguenot history, frozen in time, in New Paltz, NY. Historic Huguenot Street is a 10-acre National Historic Landmark District that includes a Visitor Center, Seven historic stone houses, a reconstructed 1717 Huguenot church, exhibit and program spaces, archaeological sites, and a burial ground. They also maintain archives and a research library.

Be sure to check out my “Who Are the Huguenots?” Pinterest board for more information on this fascinating people group. And don't miss the Cousins of the Dove trilogy, including:
My Brother's Crown (Cousins of the Dove)
My Sister's Prayer (Cousins of the Dove)
My Daughter's Legacy (Cousins of the Dove) (coming July 2017!)


  1. I am very interested on the Huguenots! There may have some ancestors that were Huguenots. I'm still trying to verify this through genealogy research. Interesting facts!