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08 October 2018
Marie-Louise Luxemburg, BRLSI Convenor
The impact of the Protestant Reformation was felt throughout Europe. The civil wars of religion in France between 1562 and 1598 lead to the Edict of Nantes, granting the Huguenots (French Protestants) substantial religious, political and military autonomy. But in 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict, and Huguenots were forced to convert to Catholicism or face persecution. Many, who did convert, practised their faith in secret, at great risk to themselves. Over 200,000 fled France, draining the country of valuable, skilled artisans (over 50,000 came to England). For those caught, reprisals were harsh; men executed or sent as galley slaves, women imprisoned, children raised in convents.
These pious, resolute people were so determined to serve God according to their conscience, that they willingly surrendered their homeland and their lives.