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Genealogy of a Poinsett Family - page 8 / 84

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The Huguenots

The Huguenots were French Protestants. There was a reform movement in Catholic France

prior to John Calvin's influential 1536 publication, but it was accelerated

King Henry II repressive also.

reprisals

became

more

severe.

Subsequent

monarchs

The massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day in 1572 was a

Huguenots.

Nevertheless,

they

continued

to

struggle

and

sometimes

thereafter. Under were periodically heavy blow to the prevailed in their

religious in 200

wars. In 1598, Henry IV, by issuing the Edict towns, proclaimed freedom of worship,

of Nantes, established Protestantism and allowed substantial political

independence. During the next 50 years more and more bourgeoisie became Huguenots, who thus constituted

skilled artisans and one of the most

members of the industrious and

economically advanced elements of French society.

In the reign of King Louis XIII,

Cardinal conflicts

Richelieu decided to suppress Protestant political privileges. the Huguenots lost all the strongholds given to them by the

In the

ensuing

Edict of

Nantes.

LaRochelle (the Richelieu after a

region from which the Poinsetts 14 -month siege, during which King

emigrated) was captured in 1628 by Charles I of England attempted to send

some aid to the Protestant defenders. The Peace of political power but assured them of continued religious the French Catholic clergy, moved to suppress the

Alais stripped the Huguenots of all tolerance. King Louis XIV, urged by

dissident

religion.

Conversion

was

encouraged and dragoons were quartered the Edict of Nantes was revoked (but our This act had disastrous consequences.

in the homes of the Huguenots. Finally, in 1685, ancestors had departed from England about 1680). Entire provinces were depopulated as countless

Huguenots fled to England, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and America. religious freedom was not attained until 1905 when church and state were separated. Baird, 1966, for additional details of the Huguenot emigration to America.)

Full (See

Our ancestors came from the province of Saintonge, south of LaRochelle, now embraced in the department of Charente-Inférieure. This area has an exceedingly broken coast line, the sandy shore everywhere indented by bays. Here many rivers enter the Bay of Biscay, including the Charente and the Seudre. It is a land of sea inlets and broad marshes and was populated by a simple and hardy band of sailors, fishermen and salt makers. A large portion of the population were Protestants. Saintonge lost many of its most industrious and virtuous families as the result of Catholic persecution. The opportunity for escape was available, as the harbors and landing places along the Atlantic coast on the West and up the broad gulf of the Gironde, on the south, provided places for ships to secretively depart. Although there were mounted guards, stationed at intervals along the coast, they could not prevent all escapes from the many ports and bays.

Our Poinsetts lived in Soubise, anciently a fortified town, and the capital of a small principality. It was named for the noble house of Soubise, one of the last to abandon the Protestant cause. Baird (1966, p. 18) cites a list which contains the names of Pierre Poinsett, son of Pierre Poinsett and his wife Marie; Pierre Poinsett the younger,

8

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