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June 02 , 2011

History of the Rise of the Huguenots (Complete)


The period of about half a century with which these volumes are concerned may properly be regarded as the formative age of the Huguenots of France. It included the first planting of the reformed doctrines, and the steady growth of the Reformation in spite of obloquy and persecution, whether exercised under the forms of law or vented in lawless violence. It saw the gathering and the regular organization of the reformed communities, as well as their consolidation into one of the most orderly and zealous churches of the Protestant family. It witnessed the failure of the bloody legislation of three successive monarchs, and the equally abortive efforts of a fourth monarch to destroy the Huguenots, first with the sword and afterward with the dagger. At the close of this period the faith and resolution of the Huguenots had survived four sanguinary wars into which they had been driven by their implacable enemies. They were just entering upon a fifth war, under favorable auspices, for they had made it manifest to all men that their success depended less upon the lives of leaders, of whom they might be robbed by the hand of the assassin, than upon a conviction of the righteousness of their cause, which no sophistry of their opponents could dissipate. The Huguenots, at the death of Charles the Ninth, stood before the world a well-defined body, that had outgrown the feebleness of infancy, and had proved itself entitled to consideration and respect. Thus much was certain. The subsequent fortunes of the Huguenots of France—their wars until they obtained recognition and some measure of justice in the Edict of Nantes; the gradual infringement upon their guaranteed rights, culminating in the revocation of the edict, and the loss to the kingdom of the most industrious part of the population; their sufferings "under the cross" until the publication of the Edict of Toleration—these offer an inviting field of investigation, upon which I may at some future time be tempted to enter. The history of the Huguenots during a great part of the period covered by this work, is, in fact, the history of France as well. The outlines of the action and some of the characters that come upon the stage are, consequently, familiar to the reader of general history. The period has been treated cursorily in writings extending over wider limits, while several of the most striking incidents, including, especially, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, have been made the subject of special disquisitions. Yet, although much study and ingenuity have been expended in elucidating the more difficult and obscure points, there is, especially in the English language, a lack of works upon the general theme, combining painstaking investigation into the older (but not, necessarily, better known) sources of information, and an acquaintance with the results of modern research
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