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The following gives a historical perspective of the events occuring during the life and times of David De Lattre and gives an insight as to why he fled France to settle in Germany and the eventual emigration of his descendants to America.


The Huguenots were French Protestants, who were members of the Reformed Church established by John Calvin about 1550. The origin of the word Huguenot is disputed. It was used as a nickname first in Geneva, Switzerland, where many had fled from France.

A General Edict urging extermination of the Heretics (Huguenots) was issued 29 January 1536. On 1 March 1562, some 1200 Huguenots were slain at Vassey, France. This ignited the Wars of Religion which would rip apart, devastate, and bankrupt France for the next three decades. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew in which thousands of Huguenots were killed took place on 24 August 1575.

The Edict of Nantes, signed by Henry IV on 13 April 1598, ended the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenots were allowed free exercise of their religion in 20 specified towns in France.

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, signed by Louis XIV on 22 October 1685, increased persecutions of the Huguenots again. At least 200,000 French Protestants fled France to friendly nations, such as Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and Britain. Between 1618 and 1725 about 5000 to 7000 Huguenot refugees reached the shores of America. The largest concentration was in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina.

The Promulgation of the Edict of Toleration, 28 November 1787, partially restored the civil and religious rights of the Huguenots in France.

The following is a Reuters news release dated 8/24/97.

By Francois Raitberger

PARIS, Aug 24 (Reuter) - On a balmy summer night, 425 years ago, Roman Catholic militia wielding knives and swords fanned out through Paris, dragging Protestants from their homes and slitting their throats in an orgy of terror. When dawn broke on August 24, 1572, thousands of bodies lay in streams of blood on the streets of the French capital. The St Bartholomew's Day massacre, carried out in a struggle for control of the French court, remains one of the darkest episodes in the country's history. Pope John Paul sought to heal the painful memories after French Protestants, incensed that his four-day visit to Paris coincided with the anniversary of the massacre, demanded a gesture of remembrance. "On the eve of August 24, we cannot forget the sad massacre of St Bartholomew's Day, an event of very obscure causes in the political and religious history of France,'' he told crowds of young pilgrims from 160 countries at a Saturday night vigil. "Christians did things which the Gospel condemns,'' he said in a plea for forgiveness, dialogue and reconciliation. He made no further reference to the massacre during an outdoor mass coinciding with the anniversary on Sunday.

Jean Tartier, head of the French Protestant Federation, said the Pope had made "a very important statement that goes towards asking for forgiveness and looking back at history.'' Testimony that the massacre still haunts mainly Catholic France came in a recent film, "La Reine Margot'' (Queen Margot), starring Isabelle Adjani, which graphically described the killings and the obscure civil war plots that led to it. Most French people nowadays, in a country which has had two Protestant prime ministers in less than a decade, are at a loss to understand the complex causes of the massacre. Even the death toll is controversial. It has been variously put at between 1,000 and 10,000 in Paris, and 2,000 up to 100,000 for the whole country.

The massacre occurred against a background of rivalry between France and Spain for the control of Flanders, and a 10-year-old noblemen's war between Catholics and persecuted Huguenots, as French Protestants were called. On August 20, 1572, Catherine de Medicis, the pro-Spanish mother of France's Catholic King Charles IX, engineered an attempt on the life of his powerful Protestant aide, admiral Gaspard de Coligny, who was advocating war on Spain. A badly wounded Coligny warned the king about his mother. King Henry of Navarre, a Protestant who had just married Charles' sister Margot and came in line for succession to the French throne, demanded that Coligny's attackers be punished. Catherine de Medicis then ordered a massacre of Protestants during which Coligny would be finished off. Her powerful allies, including the duke of Guise, stormed Coligny's home, slit his throat and dumped his body in the house's yard. Church bells pealed, calling Catholic militia to arms. The killings went out of control.

The "wars of religion'' flared again. Twenty-two years later Henry of Navarre, after besieging the French capital, declared in a famous quip: "Paris is well worth a mass.'' He converted to Catholicism and was crowned king of France. His Edict of Nantes in 1598 granted the Huguenots toleration and civil rights. He was assassinated 12 years later in an anti-Protestant plot. King Louis XIV, attempting to forcibly convert Protestants, revoked the Edict of Nantes almost a century later.

Many Huguenots went to hide in remote mountain villages of southern France. An estimated 400,000 went into exile, taking their industrial skills mainly to Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Persecution of Protestants ended in 1764, and the 1789 French Revolution made them fully-fledged citizens, granting citizenship to the descendants of exiled Huguenots who returned. About 100 protestants lay a wreath at the statue of Coligny on Sunday to mark the massacre. There are now one million Protestants in France, a country of 58 million. They gave the country its current Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and his fellow-Socialist former premier Michel Rocard, Nobel Prize winning writers Andre Gide and Jean-Paul Sartre, an atheist who was born to a Protestant family.

The following is an excerpt from a document written in about 1908.

Experiences of the French Huguenots in America - The King's Refugees

Investigations into the Lives and Fortunes of Exiles who Fled to America during the Reign of Louis XIV when he Promulgated the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685

Persecutions of the Huguenots and Their Experiences in the New Western World

Exhaustive Historical Researches



Clinton, New York


WE by the grace of God, of these United States, the land of a free people, are living in a truly golden age. We can put our trust in Pope, priest or atheist without fear of the galleys, dungeon, or the stake. Religious intolerance is at a discount; burning witches and hanging Quakers have gone out of fashion in these latter days. We are beginning to make a record for the Twentieth Century that is a credit to advanced civilization.

The name of Huguenot, as applied to the dissenters from the Church of Rome, is supposed to have been derived from Hugeon, a word used in Touraine to signify persons who walk at night. Their only safe place of worship for one hundred years had been dark caves and the blue vault of the heavens. The matter of religion with Louis, XIV was merely a pretext. He used the Church as a club for wholesale confiscation. It was a rich field to work in, and the proceeds lined the pockets of the dissolute nobles of his court.

The Huguenots, as a class, were the bone and sinew of France. The nobility were wealthy, the merchants and manufacturers prosperous, and the poorer classes sober and industrious. It is estimated that the loss to France by the Huguenot persecutions, first and last, was about 400,000. Manufactures and the arts were paralyzed, and the whole country suffered from its effects for one hundred years. Louis and his predecessors sowed the vipers' eggs that a century later brought Louis XVI and his court to the guillotine. Thus, in a measure, did time avenge the martyred Huguenots. This name was applied indiscriminately to those who adopted the creeds of Luther or Calvin. It seems they got an idea that the Bible would be a pretty good book for the people, and this did not suit the priests and monks of those days. They made a general job of burning both books and readers. Mankind is a contrary quantity, and, as is generally the case, their ideas grew and prospered under opposition and persecution. In the course of time, the Huguenots became a prominent factor among all classes, from noble to peasant. The followers of Luther and Calvin were the bone and sinew of the states, and in a general way, represented the best class of inhabitants.

This struggle between advancement and ignorance was at its height about 1450. To quote a French monk of that period: "They have now found out a new language called Greek. We must carefully guard ourselves against it. That language will be the mother of all heresies. I see in the hands of a great number of persons a book written in this language, called the New Testament. It is a book full of brambles with vipers in them. As to the Hebrew, whoever learns that becomes a Jew at once."

One hundred years passed and found the new faith growing, and persecution increasing. Phillip II of Spain devastated Flanders, and changed that rich country to a desert. The massacre of St. Bartholomew followed shortly after. In 1581, the exodus from France and Flanders began in earnest, but was stayed, in a measure, by Henry of Navarre, who was proclaimed king in 1584, with the title of Henry IV. As a Protestant himself, he promulgated the celebrated Edict of Nantes, but the people were soon deprived of its benefits when the king became a nominal Catholic for

political reasons. The persecution recommenced with greater fury and culminated in the revocation of the edict by Louis XIV, in 1685. Then the exodus began in earnest. There was no safety for a Huguenot in France. The galleys, dungeon or the stake was the alternative. All possible avenues of escape were closed by the king and his troops. He did not want to lose the people; he wanted to save their souls, but the poor deluded Huguenots did not see it in that light. The rich sacrificed their wealth, and the poor the little mite that they possessed, for the sake of life and liberty. Now and then some mentally weaker than the rest recanted, or pretended to do so, and outwardly seemed to be converted to the true faith, and were spared, but they were sharply watched.

North, South, East and West, they fled for life and liberty; by highways, byways, wild mountain passes, forest trails, by sea. or land, enclosed in casks, or in the foul holds of merchant vessels bound to some foreign port. Any future prospect was preferable to a life in France.

Holland, Germany and England gave them shelter, even benighted Russia gave a home to French exiles, and little Switzerland was full of refugees. Louis XIV sent the citizens of Geneva, a peremptory mandate to expel the Huguenots, under pain of his displeasure. They pretended to escort the exiles, with all due ceremony, outside the city gates, and quietly brought them in again by a gate on the other side. But Holland was crowded in population; the English laborer was jealous of the superior workmanship of the French emigrant; and it remained for America to make a final safe and happy home for the Huguenots of France.

The best blood of France is blended with ours and we are proud of the result as it is today. The great loss of France is our gain. There is no better blood than the American in this year of 1908.

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