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Catholic Dictionary




The term used after 1560 to designate the French Protestants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The name is derived from one of their leaders, Besançon Hugues. They owed their inspiration and organization to John Calvin, who gained acceptance in France, where the Catholic faith had been weakened by the Western Schism, the growth of Gallicanism, the Pragmatic Sanction (1438), and the opposition of the Holy League to Pope Julius II. Henry of Navarre, by the Edict of Nantes, 1598, obtained for them the freedom to exercise their religion. But, not satisfied, they sought political power, supported by arms. Their power was crushed in 1628 when La Rochelle surrendered. Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Many Huguenots fled to England, South Africa, the Netherlands, and North America.