A Huguenot farmer experiences the full force of a dragonnade
The year was 1681. King Louis XIV decided to put an end to the ‘Calvin’s heresy’ by striking a great blow. On the advice of his entourage, regiments of dragoons were sent to the Poitou province to persuade the lost subjects to recant, in principle by persuasion but in reality by any means they saw fit.
These short chapters contain invaluable examples of how to draw a reader inexorably into the depicted scene, reveal the contrasting temperaments of the protagonists, and conjure a vivid feel for the horrendous experience of having one’s home commandeered by unscrupulous dragoons.
I’d like to quote some passages – narratives as well as dialogues – to illustrate these points.
Even in a time of great persecution under Louis XIV, most Huguenots in France were primarily concerned for their personal holiness in the eyes of God, rather than to fight for their rights. This is illustrated by the following imagined secret evening culte in a private home, based on a genuine sermon preached in Castres at the start of the year 1681 by Pastor Abel-Rodolphe de Ladevèze.
How do refugee families settle in their adopted country?
Recently the BBC published a moving report about nine-year-old Rouaa from a Syrian refugee family. They had fled their home after a chemical attack and lived for several years in a camp in Lebanon. Now the UK has granted them asylum.
For several years, I have cared for asylum seekers assigned to my little village in Switzerland. We have hosted families from Lebanon, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Somalia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Turkish President Erdogan has announced Hagia Sophia will revert to being a mosque, with Muslim prayers to be held there again from July 24 2020.
The Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul was not named after a female saint; the name means Holy Wisdom – a reference to Jesus, the Wisdom of God – and was given a hundred years later to a Church originally commissioned by Constantine I in 325 CE, on the site of an earlier pagan temple. Rebuilt several times after fires, the present building was erected in the 6th century CE under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I and is considered an architectural marvel, both in terms of its size and its amazing dome structure.
For more than a millennium Hagia Sophia was the Cathedral of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, with a brief interruption in the 13th century when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral by the Fourth Crusaders.
As a tame introduction to the work of Jean Racine, this adaptation is most helpful, presenting the plays in abridged form and in contemporary English. Unfortunately, they thereby lose some of their claim to fame as “masterpieces of one of the greatest literary artists known”.
Two exciting stories in one book. Conan Doyle has diligently researched events and conditions both in Versailles and in French-Canadian North America, and developed two superbly written tales linked by the person of Amory De Catinat, a half-hearted young Huguenot serving as a personal guard of King Louis XIV.
This is a very well-crafted story of an extended family of Huguenots caught up in the frenzied and irrational persecution under King Louis XIV after he revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It is based on a true incident, in which smuggled documents from sympathisers in Holland are salvaged from a shipwreck near Rochefort on the west coast of France.