The persecution of the Huguenots in France, followed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, unleashed one of the largest migration waves of early modern Europe. Focusing on the fate of French Protestants who fled to the Dutch Republic, Experiencing Exile examines how Huguenot refugees dealt with the complex realities of living as strangers abroad, and how they seized upon religion and stories of their own past to comfort them in exile. The book widens the scope of scholarship on the Huguenot Refuge, by looking beyond the beliefs and fortunes of high-profile refugees, to explore the lives of ‘ordinary’ exiles. Studies on Huguenots in the Dutch Republic in particular focus almost exclusively on the intellectual achievements of a small group of figures, including Pierre Bayle and the Basnage brothers, whereas the fate of the many refugees who joined them in exile remains unknown. This book puts the masses of Huguenot refugees back into the history of the Refuge, examining how they experienced leaving France and building a new life in the Dutch Republic. Divided into three sections – ‘The Economy of Exile’, ‘Faith in Exile’ and ‘Memories in Exile’ – the book argues that the Huguenot exile experience was far more complicated than has often been assumed. Scholars have treated Huguenot refugees either as religious heroes, as successful migrants, or as modern philosophers, while ignoring the many challenges that exile presented. As this book demonstrates, Huguenots in the Dutch Republic discovered that being a religious refugee in early modern Europe was above all a complex and profoundly unsettling experience, fraught with socio-economic, religious and political challenges, rather than a clear-cut quest for religious freedom.
Experiencing Exile Huguenot Refugees in the Dutch Republic, 1680-1700