The Refugees eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about The Refugees.


Towards the latter quarter of the seventeenth century there was hardly an important industry in France which was not controlled by the Huguenots, so that, numerous as they were, their importance was out of all proportion to their numbers.  The cloth trade of the north and the south-east, the manufacture of serges and light stuffs in Languedoc, the linen trade of Normandy and Brittany, the silk and velvet industry of Tours and Lyons, the glass of Normandy, the paper of Auvergne and Angoumois, the jewellery of the Isle of France, the tan yards of Touraine, the iron and tin work of the Sedanais—­all these were largely owned and managed by Huguenots.  The numerous Saint days of the Catholic Calendar handicapped their rivals, and it was computed that the Protestant worked 310 days in the year to his fellow-countryman’s 260.

A very large number of the Huguenot refugees were brought back, and the jails and galleys of France were crowded with them.  One hundred thousand settled in Friesland and Holland, 25,000 in Switzerland, 75,000 in Germany, and 50,000 in England.  Some made their way even to the distant Cape of Good Hope, where they remained in the Paarl district.

In war, as in industry, the exiles were a source of strength to the countries which received them.  Frenchmen drilled the Russian armies of Peter the Great, a Huguenot Count became commander-in-chief in Denmark, and Schomberg led the army of Brandenburg, and afterwards that of England.

In England three Huguenot regiments were formed for the service of William.  The exiles established themselves as silk workers in Spitalfields, cotton spinners at Bideford, tapestry weavers at Exeter, wool carders at Taunton, kersey makers at Norwich, weavers at Canterbury, bat makers at Wandsworth, sailcloth makers at Ipswich, workers in calico in Bromley, glass in Sussex, paper at Laverstock, cambric at Edinburgh.

Early Protestant refugees had taken refuge in America twenty years before the revocation, where they formed a colony at Staten Island.  A body came to Boston in 1684, and were given 11,000 acres at Oxford, by order of the General Court at Massachusetts.  In New York and Long Island colonies sprang up, and later in Virginia (the Monacan Settlement), in Maryland, and in South Carolina (French Santee and Orange Quarter).


It has been left to our own century to clear the fair fame of Madame de Maintenon of all reproach, and to show her as what she was, a pure woman and a devoted wife.  She has received little justice from the memoir writers of the seventeenth century, most of whom, the Duc de St. Simon, for example, and the Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria, had their own private reasons for disliking her.  An admirable epitome of her character and influence will be found in Dr. Dollinger’s Historical Studies.  She made Louis an excellent wife, waited upon him assiduously for thirty years of married life, influenced him constantly towards good—­save only in the one instance of the Huguenots, and finally died very shortly after her husband.

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The Refugees from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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