Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What I'm reading - The Huguenots

One of the aspects of the Early Modern period that I found puzzling was the Reformation and the associated religious wars. Other books I've read focused their attention on Luther and the evolution of the Anglican church. Neither being very informative for the French Wars of Religion. Thus I was excited on my last visit to Michigan to find the book Huguenots by Geoffrey Treasure at Schuler Books in Lansing. Schuler Books is one of the last of the great independent bookstores.

Huguenots was well worth the price ($27.50) and the time. Besides providing a pretty in-depth overview of the growth, spread, battles, decline, and banning of Calvinism in France it included a ton of useful data for my H+I campaign. Here are few snippets.

Population Demographics

  • In the mid-16th century 15% of France lived in towns or cities. 
  • 90% of the nobility were members of the minor or petty nobility.
  • Huguenots made up around 10% of France's population, which was around 20 million people in the 17th century. The proportion

 Literacy and Education

  • From a survey of marriage license in the period 1686-90 71% of the male and 86% of the female population was illiterate. The percentage was higher in earlier periods. Nearly all peasants were functionally illiterate. 
  • Huguenots tended to be literate made up a larger proportion among town dwellers especially lawyers, doctors, and artisans and the nobility than among the peasantry.
  • The Huguenot Academy of Montpellier turned out skilled (according to the period) physicians who followed the new school of Parcacelsus, heterodox in chemical remedies, palliative drugs, and surgical methods in contrast to the conservative Galenist school of medicine to whom the Paracelsans were quacks. Which adds a religious dimension to the choice of school of medicine that a PC or NPC follows. 

Here's a sample quote.

"When the Constable Montmorency attended a meeting of the royal council at Fontainebleau ub 1560, 800 followers attended him: a private army to make a show against the rival House of Guise. It included many sprigs of the noblesse who saw in his service as good a prospect as in that of the king. Less ostentatious but able to support a large clientèle were the great men of the robe nobility, a premier président for example. Between them and the mere écuyer - by far the most numerous among nobles - there was a gul bridged only by shared tokens and values. The nature of service to a great man, proof of the écuyer's fidelité , was commonly military; it might lead him to change his religion. The écuyer might have a feif or two, a few rents and dues, a wood or a vineyard; he could wear a sword, have a coat of arms, at least aspire 'to live nobly', the acknowledged mark of a noble. To find a dowry for his daughter, a commission for a son, a fee for a lawsuit, he must seek a patron - or a loan."
Huguenots p. 21.

This one paragraph touches on so much of what makes the early modern period tick. The inadequacy of the lesser nobles' incomes to support their desired life style drove the need for commissions, and royal offices which required the influence of a patron and this in turn motivated lesser nobles to become clients of greater nobles. The presence of a great noble's clientèle enabled the great nobles to wage private wars that drove a lot of the violence of the 16th century religious wars and were part and parcel of the factions that drove so much of 16th and 17th century internal French politics. Loyalty to a patron or faction is also what we see in the rivalry between the Cardinal's Guards (who are part of that minister's faction) and the King's Musketeers who are nominally clients of the King, while giving much of their loyalty to their commander M. de Treville. Indeed the letter from D'Artagnan's father than is stolen from him by Rochefort, was to introduce him to M. de Treville and to encourage Treville to become young D'Artagnan's patron.

This book also helped answer one other challenge that I have faced--identifying Huguenot nobles. Surprisingly, despite this time period including additional Huguenot rebellions in France and overlapping the Thirty Years War in Germany, many of the bios of nobles available on the Internet and elsewhere do not always mention the religion of the person concerned. While often that is because the person is a member of the dominant religion, Catholicism, that is not always the case. So this book was helpful in identifying additional nobles to include as Huguenots and possible supporters of the religion.

Huguenot Names*

  • d’Aubeterre
  • François de Béthune Comte de Orval, son of Duc de Sully and son-in-law of Marquis de la Force ()
  • Bouillon family includes the recently deceased Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon (SR 15) ; 
[POSSIBLE SOURCE FOR OTHER PROTESTANT LORDS; his children by Elisabeth of Orange-Nassau; married on 15 April 1595]
  • · † Louise de La Tour d'Auvergne (August 1596 - November 1607);
  • · Marie de La Tour d'Auvergne (b. 1599) married Henri de La Trémoille, Duke of Thouars and Prince de Talmont, and had issue;
  • · Juliane Catherine de La Tour d'Auvergne (b. 8 October 1604) married François de La Rochefoucauld, Count of Roucy (b. 1603), and had issue;
  • · Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne b. (22 October 1605) though still a minor, Frédéric shares his father's antipathy to royal power (SR 16+);
  • · Élisabeth de La Tour d'Auvergne (b. 1606) married Guy de Durfort, mother of Guy, marquis de Lorges;
  • · Henriette Catherine de La Tour d'Auvergne married Amaury Gouyon, marquis de La Moussaye and had issue; 
  • · Henri, vicomte de Turenne, (b.11 September 1611) married Charlotte de Caumont, daughter of Armand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force. 

  • Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, Marquis de la Force & Marshall of France (SR 15)
  • Jean de Saint Charmand
  • Châtillon brothers Coligny and Dandelot
  • Prince of Condé (deceased father not his son, Henri the current Prince de Condé nor Henri’s son, both of whom are Catholic)
  • Duplessis-Mornay
  • Gramont
  • La Roche-Chandieu
  • Rochefoucauld
  • Rohan, both Henri II duc de Rohan Leader of the Huguenot forces in France and a Peer (SR 15) and his brother Benjamin de Rohan, duc de Soubise Leader of Huguenot forces in France (SR 14)
  • Soubise
  • La Trémoille e.g. Henri de La Trémoille duc de Thouars (SR 14)
  • Jean de Vivans and the Family de Vivans (SR 9+)

Overall, I thought the book was good and not overly technical for a knowledgeable lay reader. The sources cited, both primary and secondary, are extensive. While the topic is admittedly somewhat esoteric, this is an excellent source for anyone interested in France or the Religious Wars of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries.

* I added social ranks for those whose bios or other information I could find.

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