Huguenot History

Huguenots were French Protestants living in a Catholic country. During three centuries they struggled to practice their religion.

Some French kings were sympathetic and allowed the protestant faith to be practised under strict controls, others were not and persecuted Protestants.

There were periods of peace when Huguenots flourished in France but many periods of civil war, persecution and unrest.

By 1685 Huguenots in France had to give up their faith, hide their religion or escape.

1560 First recorded use of the word Huguenot
1562 Religious civil war begins between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots
1572 Thousands of Huguenots killed at St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
1598 Huguenots allowed to worship due to the Edict of Nantes
1681 Military troops called Dragoons were sent to persecute Huguenot families
1685 Huguenot faith no longer allowed as the Edict of Nantes is revoked
1687 James II grants freedom of worship in England

Many Huguenots escaped to England, others to Ireland, other European countries, America and South Africa.

Huguenots were, on the whole, well received in England.  They brought with them skills in finance, industry, medicine, arts and crafts.

For more information on the history of the Huguenots take a trip to our museum or book a session in our archive room. Detailed histories of the Huguenots can also be purchased from our museum shop.