The Huguenots were the members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 1500s and 1600s. French Protestants were inspired by John Calvin's writings in the 1530s, and by the 1560s they were called "Huguenots." The word Huguenot was used originally in mockery. Its origin is indefinite, but there are several theories. The most popular theory is one that suggests the word derived from Swiss politician Besançon Hugues and the religiously conflicted nature of Swiss republicanism during his time. It also states that the word Huguenots combines Hugues plus German word Eidgenosse, creating the word Huisgenoten (eventually becoming Huguenot). This word associates the Protestant cause with politics unpopular in France.
The availability of the Bible in local languages was important to the spread of the Protestant movement, as well as the Reform of the Catholic Church in France.Due to religious persecution, the Huguenots were forced to flee France to other countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some stayed and practiced their faith secretly. Many of those who opened up about their religious practicing at this time were slaughtered by Francis I in 1545 in the Massacre of Mérindol.
The Huguenots broke away from the Catholic Church and began harshly criticizing its doctrine and worship; therefore, the Catholic Church in France and most members were against them. The Huguenots mostly criticized the sacramental rituals and what they called "an obsession with death and the dead." They believed the Catholic Church needed to be cleansed of its impurities and that because the Pope ruled the Church like it was a "worldly" kingdom, it was ultimately doomed.
The massacre began on August 23rd, 1572, which was the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle as well as two days after Admiral Gaspard de Coligny (Huguenots’ military and political leader) was nearly assassinated. The king ordered a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, to be...
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