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Bible ourhomewithgodcomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 7:18-23

Messengers from John the Baptist

 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” 21In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

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In the first part of Luke 7, we have accounts of two more marvellous creative miracles. The first is Jesus’s healing of the centurion’s servant, who was near death (verses 6 and 7, emphases mine):

6And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.

What a wonderful example of humility from a powerful man. In verses 9 and 10, we read:

9When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

The second miracle concerns Jesus’s resurrecting the widow of Nain’s only son when He and His disciples encountered the funeral procession (verses 14-17):

14Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

These miracles and others were what John the Baptist’s disciples reported to him (verse 18).  John the Baptist, sought clarification that this was indeed Jesus; he sent two of his followers to find out (verses 19 and 20). Perhaps the prophet expected more pomp from the Messiah; we do not know his reasoning.

Jesus answered them by performing a flurry of healing miracles over the next hour (verse 21). The more I read the Gospels, the more struck I am by Jesus’s concern for people’s physical wellbeing. Medicine was next to nothing at the time; it was a primitive practice of herbal remedies and suffering. The pain of those seeking cures is difficult for us to appreciate today. Jesus showed them His infinite mercy.

Matthew Henry says that Jesus intended this hour of miracles as proof that He was indeed the Redeemer:

He multiplied the cures, that there might be no ground left to suspect a fraud …

John MacArthur says:

Now John would have known that certainly the blind receiving sight and the gospel being preached to the poor comes from Isaiah 61 so Jesus was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. But the fact that He could give sight to the blind, He could make lame people walk, lepers be cleansed, deaf people hear and raise dead people was a clear indication of who He was …

After the hour of creative — and no doubt dramatic — miracles, He tells John’s disciples to tell him the full extent of what they witnessed (verse 22).

Finally, He says that blessed are those who are not embarrassed by Him (verse 23). That is a curious thing to say, however, Henry says that Jesus was alluding to His humble state and lack of pomp. Therefore, blessed are those who can overlook this and believe:

We are here in a state of trial and probation; and it is agreeable to such a state that, as there are sufficient arguments to confirm the truth to those that are honest and impartial in searching after it, and have their minds prepared to receive it, so there should be also objections, to cloud the truth to those that are careless, worldly, and sensual. Christ’s education at Nazareth, his residence at Galilee, the meanness of his family and relations, his poverty, and the despicableness of his followers—these and the like were stumbling-blocks to many, which all the miracles he wrought could not help them over. He is blessed, for he is wise, humble, and well disposed, that is not overcome by these prejudices. It is a sign that God has blessed him, for it is by his grace that he is helped over these stumbling-stones; and he shall be blessed indeed, blessed in Christ.

It’s interesting that the modern, social Gospel clergy rarely speak of Christ’s creative miracles or His preaching, for that matter. They speak mostly of the Beatitudes and the Loaves and the Fishes. Whilst those are also of great importance, they are not the whole of what He did during His public ministry.

Doubters — so-called ‘Christians’ — also disregard these healings. Why? They are central to Jesus’s nature and show His infinite and unconditional love for us. Jesus asked for nothing when He healed. He did not demand faith or money or time spent in His service. If this does not demonstrate selflessness, what else does in His progression to the Crucifixion, Resurrection and sending the Holy Spirit?

Jesus is a highly personal Saviour, Redeemer and friend. May we consider Him as such.

Next time: Luke 7:24-30

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As I write, Britain’s Parliament rejected a move for military intervention in Syria:

A Government motion calling for a strong humanitarian response which may have included military strikes was rejected by 272 votes to 285 late on Thursday night.

Thirty Tory rebels and nine Liberal Democrats joined with Labour to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister.

After the historic vote, Mr Cameron said: “I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.

“It is clear to me the British Parliament does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly.”

What would Tony Blair have done? Probably forced a vote in his favour by bringing out the party whips. Or perhaps have had no vote at all and declared intervention.

Good for David Cameron. Euro MP Daniel Hannan is also positive and says this is the first time this has happened since Cromwell’s Interregnum:

… we have just witnessed a rather beautiful moment. The House of Commons has recovered a prerogative that it wielded for a few brief years in the 1640s, namely control over the deployment of armed power. This shift has come about because David Cameron chose to stick to the letter and spirit of a promise he made in opposition. He was under no legal obligation to secure parliamentary consent for a strike against the Ba’athist regime; but he felt he had given his word, and he was wise enough not to want to launch non-defensive military action without national consent.

… The power of war and peace, the most awful power a state wields, has passed from executive to legislature. David Cameron was plainly sincere in his belief that a military strike would improve matters in Syria, yet he accepted the will of Parliament graciously, courteously and without demur. Good for him. And good for democracy.

The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley points out (emphases mine):

Wow. Think about what just happened. A Conservative British Prime Minister just put a vote to the Commons basically about going to war and the Commons said no – and the Prime Minister has said that he will respect that answer. David Cameron was defeated not just by the collective will of the House but by rebels within his own party. This is a turning point for the British constitution and a turning point for British Toryism. Excuse the hyperbole, but things might never be the same again.

From the democratic point of view, this is an astonishing departure from historical precedent. For a very long time now war has essentially been the responsibility of the Government. The tradition has been for Parliament to back the Government’s decisions and to act more as a watchdog than a policy maker. So the world is turned upside down: Parliament has earned and exercised the right essentially to control the activities of the Cabinet – to say “yay” or “nay” to something that was once seen as being within a realm of political responsibility far removed from ordinary MPs.

From the perspective of Toryism, the Conservative Party is no longer a united party of war. The party of Suez and the Falklands is now far more cautious, more sceptical of state power, more willing to stop and think before acting …

I remember when Labour were in power — the all-too-recent 13-year nightmare — and Tony Blair felt divinely moved to intervene in Afghanistan post-9/11 and later in Iraq. Labour MPs supported him every step of the way. Now a Conservative PM wanted to take action in Syria and Labour MPs — a number of whom were there when Blair was in power — became holier-than-thou about non-intervention.

Labour Party member — or former member — Dan Hodges has this observation:

There are many Labour MPs who voted against the Government yesterday in good conscience. But the spectacle of some of their colleagues who sprinted through the lobbies in support of the Iraq invasion tweeting self-righteous platitudes about how the Government has “to do better” in presenting the case for war was nauseating. If they have genuinely learnt the lessons of 2003 fine. But they should at least have had the good grace to do so with humility.

Hodges is highly critical of Labour leader Red Ed Miliband. Labour supporters, please note:

Up until yesterday I had thought Ed Miliband was a weak leader. I doubted, and still doubt, he has what it takes to make it to Downing Street. But I also thought that despite his numerous flaws, Miliband was basically an honorable man who was struggling to align his natural liberal instincts with the new conservatism that is the by-product of the age of austerity.

His conduct over the past week shows that’s simply not the case

David Cameron believed Labour would fall in line because Ed Miliband kept telling him they would. Yesterday, there was lots of debate about who had said what to whom in what meeting or what phone conversation.

But these facts are indisputable. Ed Miliband said that if he was to back the Government, David Cameron would have to publish the legal advice upon which the case for war rested. David Cameron agreed, and did so.

Ed Miliband then said a solid case needed to be presented demonstrating the Assad regime’s culpability for the chemical attacks. David Cameron agreed, and published the JIC analysis which concluded “there are no plausible alternative scenarios to regime responsibility”.

Ed Miliband then said the Government would have to exhaust the UN route before any recourse to military action. David Cameron agreed, and confirmed he would be submitting a motion to the P5 to that effect.

Ed Miliband said he would need to await the UN weapons inspectors report. David Cameron agreed.

Finally, and crucially, Ed Miliband said there would have to be not one, but two House of Commons votes before military action could be authorised. Once again David Cameron agreed.

And then, having sought – and received – all these assurances from the Prime Minister, Ed Miliband went ahead and voted against the Government anyway.

In closing, Tim Stanley concludes — and I couldn’t agree more:

Tonight Parliament injected reason into a debate about war and reason has prevailed. I wish – wish – this could have happened back in 2003, perhaps saving thousands of British and Iraqi lives. But it’s comforting to know that this time sense has prevailed. The mother of Parliaments has recovered her authority.

Personally, Qatar and the other Middle Eastern nations should sort this out. Instead, they spend their money buying up Western Europe, particularly Qatar. It’s a pretty sweet situation for them for the West to fight their region’s battles. That gives them the financial leverage to buy our football teams and hotel chains as well as inject money into our education* and inner-city programmes**. No longer, I hope.

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* Before school let out this summer, one of our local primary schools had a multi-cultural day in which every student received a Qatar-financed tee-shirt. The country’s name was clearly visible.

** Marianne had a lengthy feature a few months on Qatar’s injecting money into poor French suburbs then telling the residents that France had no use for them. Shameful.

A brief post in which to thank RMC (French radio) for not going on holiday during July and August.

Indeed, ‘RMC takes no holiday’ (‘RMC ne prend pas de vacances’) was their summer slogan, and one hopes that their strategy paid off. Their ratings went up between April and June 2013, placing them just behind public radio station France Inter in greater Paris (Île de France). It will be interesting to see what the next set of ratings says.

I have no interest commercially or promotionally in the station other than to say that RTL, Europe1 and the rest produced dire programmes over the past several weeks. I’m merely a daily listener of RMC — sometimes other commercial French stations.

With all that happens in the news, especially domestically, is taking a broadcast holiday a wise one? RMC kept up with all its regular programming and introduced replacement guest hosts where necessary. Shouldn’t all the other stations?

La Lettre, which concentrates on French radio, notes that holidaymakers prefer lighter programming to the usual cut and thrust of news analysis or socio-psychological discussions. That said, whilst La Lettre advises lighter shows they warn against going too far in this vein. They base this on increased radio audiences last summer for the 2012 London Olympics, despite people being on holiday. Incidentally, men between the ages of 35 and 49 years of age are still the principal audience during July and August. This explains why talk radio and interview shows are male-dominated. Men also tend to listen to most of a show whereas women wander off to do other things.

Happily, this week, regular programmes are back with la rentrée — the return to school and work.

I am delighted to see that RMC’s Eric Brunet is back, continuing with his series on the waste of public money: ‘Thank you, French men and women. Thank you, taxpayers’.

Even if you do not live in France but are an EU ‘citizen’, you are most likely paying for such things as the following:

Eric Brunet RMC Facebook 1173868_10151805273713094_1784349877_nWatching La Vuelta a Espana (cycling tour) this week, SpouseMouse and I are wondering how many British pounds have contributed to the resurfacing of their roads. The commentary has noted the Spanish efforts, but what about the rest of us in the EU? Certainly, one can make the same argument for the Tour de France.

And, yes, presumably, some of our taxes have paid for the aforementioned regional information centre in Lille. How many Britons, Germans, Spaniards, et al, have any appreciation of and access to that?

The good burghers of Lille would counter, ‘Oui, but we are paying for your projects, too!’ Swings and roundabouts. The issue is — where does it all end? Furthermore, is this worthwhile for our respective countries and taxpayers?

Merci beaucoup, RMC, for your continuing summer coverage. (Yes, Brunet did go on holiday but Christophe Bourdet filled in with the same style and quality.)

You can read and listen to more about ill-spent taxpayers’ money on RMC’s Carrément (‘Frankly’) Brunet page. For France alone, this totals over €1.5bn.

If you missed yesterday’s post on the 16th century Huguenot settlement in present-day South Carolina, it’s worthwhile reading before continuing with their story in Florida.

As the Florida story opens, keep in mind that the Huguenots arrived there in 1562 before sailing for what is now the Sea Islands in Port Royal Sound in South Carolina. Jean Ribault and his men did not settle in Florida, although they did explore some of the St John’s River — what he had called the May River — and coastal features whilst sailing northward.

By 1564, Ribault was lying low in England, seeking refuge as a Huguenot. Meanwhile, in his home country, King Charles IX wished to send another ship to Florida. He called on René Goulaine de Laudonnière to lead the expedition.

It is possible he chose Laudonnière because he had been second in command in Charlesfort under Jean Ribault. Therefore, he already knew the region. As Ribault was in England, Laudonnière was the next best choice. In addition to colonisation, part of the objective of the trip was also to give Huguenots safe haven.

Laudonnière was a nobleman and member of the Huguenot merchant class. It is unclear where he was born and raised. Some say it was near the town of Laudonnière, the family seat of the Goulaine family, near the busy port of Nantes. Other historians claim he came from further south in Poitou, near the port of Sables d’Olonne.

Charles IX gave Laudonnière 50,000 crowns, three ships and 300 Huguenot colonists. Laudonnière set sail from Le Havre on April 22, 1564. He and his men arrived at the mouth of the May (St John’s) River on June 22 that year.

Laudonnière first renewed his acquaintance with the Saturiwa Indians — a branch of the larger Timucua tribe. As I said yesterday:

It’s important to remember that here, as well as in Brazil and on St Kitts, the French treated the Indians with kindness.

That remained largely true in Florida, until later, when the Indians were angry that the French had demanded too many provisions from them. The settlers also met with an unknown tribe, and tensions quickly appeared.

Fort Caroline, 1564

After befriending the Indians, Laudonnière and his crew then sailed north to what is now Jacksonville, Florida. There they established the colony of Fort Caroline, named for Charles IX.

Life in the new colony was arduous. The Frenchmen went hungry. Some of the men staged a mutiny and destroyed one of the ships. Laudonnière was able to subdue the rebellion by executing the ringleaders.

Interestingly, amongst all he had to do in Florida, Laudonnière had not forgotten an important detail from Charlesfort up north. That was the rescue of the young man Guillermo Rouffi. Laudonnière had found out that Rouffi never sailed back to France with the last of the Charlesfort settlers and decided to bring him back to the new colony in Florida.

In January 1565, Laudonnière sent a ship to Port Royal Sound to search for Rouffi. However, no one knew that Rouffi left the settlement with the invading Spanish six months earlier. One wonders what happened to him.

Meanwhile, Laudonnière and his colonists had expected Jean Ribault to return to France and then Florida, stocked with supplies. However, France’s involvement in wars at home and abroad prevented him from sailing at the appointed time. He did not arrive until August 28, 1565.

During the intervening months, Laudonnière was ready to abandon Fort Caroline. In addition to the aforementioned mutiny, other of his men became pirates and attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean. On the mainland, another Timucua tribe, the Utina, clashed with the French.

When Ribault arrived, he assumed governorship of Fort Caroline. Laudonnière was unhappy with this arrangement and arranged to return to France. Ribault’s 800 settlers, which included women and children, rebuilt and repaired the fort’s dilapidated buildings.

Spanish attack, 1565

Just weeks later, a Spanish expedition led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived at the behest of Philip II to drive out the French, just as they had further north in Port Royal Sound in 1564. Spain believed they held claim to the lands their explorer Juan Ponce de León — he of the fountain of youth — had discovered in 1513.

Ribault was aware of the Spanish presence and sailed with most of Fort Caroline’s soldiers to Saint Augustine on September 10, 1565. They encountered a strong tropical storm.

On the morning of September 20, Menéndez and his men attacked Fort Caroline. Despite the same raging tropical storm that Ribault encountered, they managed to capture the settlement. One hundred thirty-two Frenchmen died; another 45 escaped. Around 50 women and children were held hostage. Menéndez quickly renamed the colony Fort San Mateo and set out looking for the escapees.

Ribault’s and Laudonniere’s whereabouts

Meanwhile, Ribault and his men were washed ashore near what is now Daytona Beach. The storm had destroyed their ships and many of the men had drowned. The survivors began walking the coastline and soon fell into Spanish hands at Matanzas Inlet. In accordance with Philip II’s edict, all Huguenots who refused to recant their ‘heresy’ were to be executed. The Spanish took them behind a sand dune and killed them using swords. Ribault — a Huguenot — was among those who met their death. The Catholics and a group of musicians on Ribault’s ships were allowed to live.

You might be wondering what happened to Laudonnière, as he was left at Fort Caroline when Ribault set sail for St Augustine. Laudonnière was among the escapees during the Spanish attack.  He managed to make his way to the mouth of the May (St John’s) River, where Ribault’s son had anchored three ships.

From there, Laudonnière and Ribault’s son set sail for Europe, however, Laudonnière arrived alone — in Wales. From Wales, it is thought that he travelled overland via Bristol and London to the coast, where he was able to cross the Channel and arrive in Paris around December 1565.

Once back in France, Laudonnière maintained a low profile, although he did write his memoir of Florida, L’histoire notable de la Floride, contenant les trois voyages faits en icelles par des capitaines et pilotes français (‘The notable history of Florida, containing the three voyages made by French captains and pilots’), published in 1586, 12 years after his death in 1574.

What happened to the Huguenots at Fort Caroline

Menéndez killed most of the settlers at Fort Caroline and hanged their bodies from trees. By way of explanation, he erected an inscription which read:

Not as Frenchmen but as Lutherans.

Calling Protestants ‘Lutherans’ — regardless of their religious preference — was still widespread practice at the time on the part of Catholics.

When this news reached France, both Catholics and Huguenots were outraged. The French court complained to the Spanish court. Spain responded by granting Menendez and his men honours and recognition.

Avenging the massacre at Fort Caroline

One French Catholic who was so outraged that he decided to take action against the Spanish was Dominique de Gourgue.

Gourgue came from a prominent family near Bordeaux. He served in several conflicts and had been captured by the Spaniards in 1557.  He also travelled to Brazil and the West Indies, although it is unclear whether he was among the Huguenot expeditions there. In any event, once he left his military service and expeditions behind, the Guise family — leaders of the Catholic League — employed him against the Huguenots.

Regardless, Gourgue’s dislike of the Spanish outweighed any animosity he had towards Huguenots.

He sold everything he had and even enlisted the financial help of his brother Antoine to purchase three small ships. He recruited men on the premise that, together, they would sail to Cuba.

This they did. Once they arrived in Cuba, Gourgue revealed his primary intent: to sail to San Mateo (formerly Fort Caroline) and avenge the deaths of their fellow countrymen. He met with no objection.

In 1568, the tiny fleet arrived near San Mateo. Gourgue was quick to first make friends with and enlist the help of the Timacuan tribes the French knew earlier: the Saturiwa and the Tacatacuru.

Gourgue and his men — including the Indians — then attacked San Mateo. They killed the Spanish colonists and — just as Menéndez had with the Huguenots — hanged their bodies from trees with a similar style of inscription:

Not as Spaniards but as murderers.

Upon his return to La Rochelle in 1568, Gourgue met with a mixed reaction. The governor of Bordeaux, his home city, gave him a warm welcome. However, the French court, worried about reprisals from Spain, distanced itself from Gourgue.

He went to live in obscurity and poverty in the northern city of Rouen, until the French court decided to employ him in 1572 by giving him command of a ship. Ironically, he went on to command the largest vessel against the Huguenots at the Siege of La Rochelle.

Later in 1592, the Portuguese claimant to that country’s throne, Don Antonio de Crato, enlisted Gourgue’s help by putting him in charge of that country’s fleet against Philip II of Spain. Whilst on the way to Portugal, Gourgue died. Dom de Crato died in Paris three years later, unable to ever become king of Portugal, a position Philip II continued to hold.

End of the 2013 series on the Huguenots

File:French Florida 1562.gif

This and tomorrow’s post are the final in my 2013 instalments on the Huguenots.

Today’s looks at the Huguenot settlement in what is now South Carolina.

Official history being what it is, let it be said that the French arrived there first.

Settlements in what was called French Florida were named after Charles IX.

The influential Huguenot leader Admiral Gaspard (Caspar) de Coligny, to whom all of European royalty today is related, sponsored this significant, if short-lived exploration.

Coligny wanted to ensure that the Huguenots could have a safe place to settle outside of France.

The Huguenot settlements in French Florida occurred within a decade after their brief colonisation of the Rio de Janeiro area of Brazil in the 1550s. The French referred to that part of the world as France Antarctique.

The map at the top, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows French exploration of Florida and South Carolina. It is dated 1562, although it is puzzling to see the words ‘Charles Town’ (see 33° latidude).

The English did not arrive in the Province of Carolina until 1629. England’s Charles I had granted a charter to Sir Robert Heath to establish a colony there, although he never did. As students of history know, the king was beheaded in 1649, and Cromwell’s Interregnum lasted until the Restoration — Charles II’s accession — in 1660. Heath’s descendants attempted to claim the territories he had explored, but Charles II denied their request and instead sent eight men to establish the Province in 1663. They named the territory in memory of Charles I.

Back now to the French. Although the Huguenot ships sailing for the New World were populated by Protestants, there were also Catholics among them. This was also the case in Brazil, where religious discussions contributed to social fracturing amongst the settlers.

The University of South Carolina carried out archaeological investigations of the French colony, Charlesfort, in Port Royal Sound, another French name.

This is the story of that colony.

In 1562, Admiral Coligny chose one of his officers and fellow Huguenot, Jean Ribault, to lead the expedition to French Florida.

Ribault was from the bustling port city of Dieppe in Normandy. At that time, Dieppe was known for having the most advanced cartography in France. Huguenots from Dieppe had already established a short-lived settlement in present-day St Kitts in 1538. Against this backdrop of exploration and trade, it is not surprising that Ribault enlisted in the French Navy then took up Coligny’s offer to sail to Florida.

Ribault and his 150 colonists left France in February 1562 and arrived in present-day Jacksonville, Florida, in May of that year. They explored the mouth of the St John’s River, which he called River May for the month of their landing.

However, they did not stay there; colonisation would come a few years later (see tomorrow’s post). Instead, Ribault and his men sailed north along the coast to chart rivers and other important features. They arrived in what they called Port Royal Sound, where the Sea Islands are located. On what is now called Parris Island, Ribault established Charlesfort, named for the French king Charles IX.

Port Royal Sound is the oldest surviving French place name in North America after St Lawrence River in Canada. Ribault described his discovery as

one of the greatest and fayrest havens of the world.

Charlesfort had plenty of space for a colony and provided a strategic location, important for defence. Of it, Ribault wrote:

a place of strong scytuation and commodyous, upon a river which we have called Chenonceau …

It took only three weeks for Ribault and his men to construct Charlesfort. Ribault’s intention was to make a quick trip to France for more supplies and settlers, then return. Before he set sail, he left Albert de Pierria, a trusted soldier, in charge of the 26 gentlemen, soldiers and navy men left at Charlesfort. The other 124 sailed back to Europe with Ribault in June 1562.

Unfortunately, at this point, both Ribault’s situation and Charlesfort’s began to unravel.

Ribault and his men neared in the northern port of Le Havre only to find the French Wars of Religion in progress. They could not dock there, as the port was blocked, so they sailed to nearby Dieppe, Ribault’s home town.

Although it is unclear what happened to his men at this point, Ribault helped his fellow Huguenots in Dieppe before sailing to England, where he hoped to obtain support from Elizabeth I and her advisors. He achieved an audience with the Queen, who promised him help. However, he was later arrested and briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London, accused of being a spy. It was in the Tower that he wrote his account of Charlesfort, very briefly excerpted above. The University of South Carolina has used that English translation in its archaeological efforts.

Ribault would return to sail another day — this time to Florida.

Meanwhile, back in Charlesfort, Albert de Pierria’s discipline was harsh. His small band of men became increasingly disillusioned. To make matters worse, their food and supplies were running out. The local Indian tribes — the Orista and Escamacu — could not replace them. A group of Pierria’s men sailed to present-day Georgia to obtain rations from the Guale Indians. The Guale shared what they could.

Shortly after the Frenchmen returned to Charlesfort with food from the Guale, their main building somehow burned to the ground. The Guale’s food went along with it as well as almost every possession the men had.

The Orista and Escamacu helped the French rebuild their fort. However, by now, the settlers were at breaking point. It seemed to them as if Ribault would never return and Pierria’s discipline was insufferable. He had already hanged one man and banished another to a nearby island. The men at Charlesfort rebelled by killing Pierria.

Nicolas Barre (Barré) assumed command. He and the remaining men decided to build their own small ship and set sail for France. The local Indians provided some of the materials for the boat, made of wood, pitch, Spanish moss and cordage. The men used their shirts as sails. This is how desperate they were.

Not everyone in Charlesfort decided to return to France. It’s important to remember that here, as well as in Brazil and on St Kitts, the French treated the Indians with kindness. One of de Perria’s young servants, Guillermo Rouffi, decided to make his home among the Orista. A few of the French settlers in Brazil lived among the Indians there, although, having undergone so much hardship, they could not sustain the Indians’ way of life for long.

As for the 21 men sailing back to France from Charlesfort in April 1563, it comes as no surprise that their crossing of the Atlantic was a difficult one. After they had exhausted their meagre food supplies, they began to eat their leather shoes.

Worse was to come as they turned to cannibalism by killing La Chère, the man whom de Perria had banished to an island off Charlesfort.

La Chère’s remains enabled the seven remaining men, including Captain Barré, to reach Europe.  An English ship spotted the boat and rescued the crew.

There ends the story of the Huguenots in South Carolina.

As for Guillermo Rouffi, who lived with the Orista, he helped the Spanish explore Charlesfort in 1564. The Spanish — Catholic — King Philip II ordered an expedition to destroy whatever remained of Charlesfort.

Manrique de Rojas led the expedition. In conversing with the Indians, they learned that Rouffi was still there. The Indians introduced the young man to Rojas. Rouffi gave the Spaniards a full account of Ribault’s settlement and what took place there. Rojas then burned the remains of Charlesfort and sailed to a nearby island where Ribault had erected a stone marker of the French arrival two years before. Rojas put the stone on his ship and set sail for Cuba.

In 1566, Spain’s Pedro Menéndez de Avilés established the settlement of Santa Elena (Helena) on present-day Parris Island in order to discourage any further attempts by the French to colonise Carolina.

Tomorrow: The Huguenots in 16th century French Florida

I would like to extend a warm welcome to my latest subscribers who have been reading and commenting on my Huguenot series. Your interest is much appreciated!

There is one more post coming in the series this year. Meanwhile, if you have missed any in the series, they are on my Christianity / Apologetics page under Huguenots.

God willing, I’ll have much more to cover on these valiant people next August: their personalities, their occupations and their destinations post-France.

Their stories and example are ones which every Protestant would do well to know and pass on to others, especially our youth.

Before the Huguenots settled for a time in Brazil, another group fled religious persecution by sailing to St Kitts in 1538.

From Dieppe to Dieppe Bay

As students of the history of the Second World War know, Dieppe is a French port in Upper Normandy. It is on the coast of the English Channel.

By the 16th century, the city was known for having the most advanced cartography in France. As a result, the port saw much trade, including with the New World, where a few adventurous merchants were sailing back and forth to Brazil. Brazil’s wood — the now-endangered Pau-Brasil — was highly prized for its durability and its red dye. Previous explorers to that part of the world also said there were likely to be precious metals and stones, which also stimulated the imagination of intrepid traders.

The Huguenots, on the other hand, wished to set sail for the New World only to find religious freedom. Some of them were already experiencing persecution in the first part of the 16th century.

A group of them decided to set sail from Dieppe for the West Indies. They arrived on St Kitts in 1538 and named their settlement after the French port. Dieppe Bay Town — as it is known today — is the oldest European community in the Eastern Caribbean.

Unfortunately, the Huguenots’ small settlement survived for only a few months. The Spanish arrived on the island and deported them. However, remains of that colony survive today as the cellar of the main building of the Golden Lemon Hotel.

We do not know what happened to those Huguenots after that.

Early St Kitts and Nevis

The first people to arrive on these islands around 3000 BC were the ‘Archaic people’, who sailed down from what is now Florida and migrated among the various islands along the way. They survived for a few centuries.

The next group to arrive — around 1000 BC — came from what is now known as Venezuela. They were an agricultural and ceramic people known as the Saladoid.

In 800 AD, the Saladoid were replaced by the Igneri, part of the Arawak tribe. The Igneri were peaceful and spiritual; they managed to successfully settle and populate the islands.

In 1300, the aggressive Kalinago — Caribs — arrived and forced the Igneri off the islands. The Igneri sailed north to the Greater Antilles.

The Kalinago went on to name the islands: Liamuiga (St Kitts), or ‘fertile island’, and Oualie (Nevis), ‘land of beautiful waters’.

The Kalinago found the location of Liamuiga and Oualie ideal for trade with other islands and indigenous peoples. However, these belligerent settlers also raided the Taino people, who lived on what is now the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Christopher Columbus’s and subsequent exploration

In 1493 — only a few decades before the Huguenots from Dieppe made their voyage — Christopher Columbus sighted the islands on his second expedition.

Accounts vary as to whether he named St Kitts St Jago (St James, hence Santiago) or St Martin or St Christopher. In any event, St Christopher was the most widely used on maps — perhaps in error — as San Cristobal.

The English, who arrived later to colonise the island, kept the name St Christopher and abbreviated it to St Kit’s or St Kitts. Kit is the diminutive for Christopher. Today, the island is known officially by both names.

Spanish settlers, coming after Columbus, named the smaller island Nuestra Señora de las Nieves — Our Lady of the Snows. This is thought to have come from

a reference to the story of a fourth-century Catholic miracle: a snowfall on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. Presumably the white clouds which usually wreathe the top of Nevis Peak reminded someone of the story of a miraculous snowfall in a hot climate. The island of Nevis, upon first British settlement, was referred to as “Dulcina,” a name meaning “sweet one.” Its original Spanish name, “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves,” was eventually kept however, though it was soon shortened to “Nevis.”

Nevis was a corruption and anglicisation of the Spanish name.

Subsequent settlement

Surprisingly — both for their aggressive demeanour and the fact that this did not occur with other indigenous populations in the Caribbean — the Kalinago allowed the Europeans to settle St Kitts and Nevis. Tribes on other islands fought the Europeans.

The English established a colony in 1623. The French arrived not long after to settle. Both groups of settlers massacred the Kalinago.

In 1629, the Spanish returned and sent the Anglo-French settlers packing. The following year, a war settlement allowed England and France to colonise the islands anew. Each country had its own parts of the islands.

As it was for the Kalinago, the islands became a strategic base for both countries’ expansion in the Caribbean. What was once a mutually peaceful arrangement turned into a battle for control. The French ceded their territory to Great Britain in 1713.

The islands, although internally autonomous, continue to be part of the British Commonwealth.

Next week: The Huguenot colony in Florida

Bible oldContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (Peter, sermon 1; Peter, sermon 3; Matthew and Thomas; James, Simon and Judas).

Luke 6:12-16

The Twelve Apostles

 12In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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Jesus sought quiet from time to time. He retreated all night to pray, communicating with His heavenly Father (verse 12).

He sets the example for us to follow. Matthew Henry observes that we are reluctant to spend even a half-hour at prayer, yet:

We have a great deal of business at the throne of grace, and we should take a great delight in communion with God, and by both these we may be kept sometimes long at prayer.

The following morning, our Lord returned to choose His Apostles (verse 13). He did not choose learned men but those whom the privileged in society would have either ignored or disdained. They were men from Galilean villages, not the big city Jerusalem. In the words of the Monty Python sketch, ‘But they’re not qualified!’ He also did not choose anyone from the religious hierarchy.

Henry explains their names with regard to the other Gospels (verses 14-16):

He that in Mark was called Thaddeus, in Matthew Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus, is here called Judas the brother of James, the same that wrote the epistle of Jude. Simon, who in Matthew and Mark was called the Canaanite, is here called Simon Zelotes, perhaps for his great zeal in religion.

Or perhaps for his political zeal in wanting Israel to break away from Rome. We’ll get to that in a moment.

For now, John MacArthur says that none of us, because of our inherent tendency to sin, is qualified to truly serve Him. Yet, the unqualified are called nonetheless. Such has been the case since Old Testament times:

Very encouraging to meet the Twelve because like all the rest of us, they are selected from the unworthy and the unqualified. They’re like Elijah, that great prophet. If you were to go to the Old Testament and look across the peaks of godly men and leaders and prophets and preachers, you might say that the peak of all peaks was Elijah…great man of God, mightily used of God. And James reminds us in James 5:17, he says of Elijah he had the same kind of nature that we have, he’s just like us. He didn’t rise to the highest of usefulness to God because he was different than we are, neither did Paul. Paul, as I just said, recognized himself as the chief of sinners. And God doesn’t really have a choice, He either uses the unworthy and the unqualified or He does it Himself. But God has chosen to bring to sinners saving grace and sanctifying grace and then serving grace, transforming the unworthy and the unqualified into useful servants. And we’re going to learn that as we look at these Apostles.

He encourages us not to be discouraged by our inability to be holy (emphases mine):

I think we are tempted generally as Christians, and it’s an understandable thing, to become discouraged and to become disheartened when our spiritual life and witness suffer because of our sins and our failures and we think that we’re nobodies and we’re nothing

God picks the humble, the lowly, the meek and the weak so that there’s never any question about the source of power when their lives change the world. It’s not the man, it’s the truth of God and the power of God in the man. We sure need to remind preachers today of this. It’s not their cleverness, it’s not their personality. Power is in the Word…power is in the truth that we preach, not in us. And apart from one person, one human, God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ, the history of God’s work on earth is the story of His using the unqualified and the Twelve were no exception to that. Jesus took the unworthy, the unqualified and transformed them into mighty servants of spiritual power, turned the world upside-down, laid the foundation of the church upon which all these centuries have been built. They became great preachers, healers, expellers of demons, writers of the New Testament. They were the real foundation of the church, according to Ephesians 2:20. They were the agents of divine revelation, according to Ephesians 3:5. They were the teachers of true doctrine, according to Acts 2:42. In Ephesians 4:11 it tells us they were the builders of the church. They are called holy apostles in Ephesians 3:5 and Revelation 18:20. They were examples of godliness. And they were granted the ability to do mighty signs and wonders, according to 2 Corinthians 12:11 and 12. These Twelve, very plain, common men were elevated to a uncommon calling.

MacArthur explains the order of their names:

The first name in all four lists is always Peter. And then you have three groups of four…group one, group two, group three. The first group is Simon called Peter, Andrew, James, John. In every list they are the first four. Peter, James and John’s names get mixed around in the list, Peter’s is always first but they’re always in group one.

Group two is always the same, Philip, Bartholomew, or Nathanael…Matthew, Thomas, that’s always group two in every list. And the names of Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas get mixed, but Philip is always the first name of group two.

Group three, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James and Judas Iscariot, always the same…the names may be mixed a little bit, the two middle names, the names of Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James get mixed, but James the son of Alphaeus is always the first name in group four and Judas is always the last name of the Twelve …

These groups of four are in decreasing intimacy with Christ. Group one always around Christ…Peter, James, John and Andrew, the most intimate group. They were the first disciples that Jesus called back in John chapter 1 verse 35 to 42, the first group He called to be disciples, here he identifies as Apostles. They’ve been with Him the longest and they are the most intimate with Christ. And throughout the rest of the story of the ministry and life of Christ, Peter, James and John in particular are very intimate with Christ, and Andrew is close. Group two is a little bit more distant but we do know quite a bit about Philip and Bartholomew and Thomas, as I mentioned they are group two…and also Matthew. Group three seems at a distance. We don’t know much about them at all. The only thing we know is about Judas because he betrayed Jesus. So Jesus had twelve, but He could only have very intimately three and sometimes four and they kind of move away in terms of intimacy. But as Mark 3:14 says they were appointed that they would be with Him, so they were all there, all twelve, but with certain degrees of intimacy with Christ.

It does tell us that even a group of twelve is too much for one person to handle at an equal level of intimacy. Jesus had very close to Him three, next came Andrew and then the next and the next. So we learn that there have to be some decisions made about who one spends intimate time with because you can’t be everything to everybody.

Each group also had a leader:

There’s a leader in group one, Peter; leader of group two, Philip; leader of group three, James the son of Alphaeus. There are leaders among leaders and a leader over all of them, namely Peter.

The Apostles came from a variety of occupations, among them fishing (Peter and Andrew), tax collecting (Matthew) and political activism (Simon the Zealot), about whom MacArthur explains:

The Zealots…were those who hated Rome. That was the name of a group of people in Israel who wanted to throw off the Roman yoke. They were…many of them were terrorists. They didn’t have an army that declared war on Rome, they did terrorist acts. Some of them were called Sicarii because they carried around a Sicarii, which is a sword and they went around stabbing Romans in the back. Terrorist acts. And here was the most hated Jew, one who had betrayed his nation and become a tax collector for Rome in the same little group of four with Simon who was a terrorist. And apart from the presence of Christ, Simon may have well stuck a spear in the back of Matthew.

MacArthur calls our attention to the interchangeability of Jesus’s calling the leader ‘Simon’ and ‘Peter’:

Now why does He do this to him? Well the Lord has a purpose in mind. I mean, by nature he was…he [Simon Peter] was brash, he was vacillating, he made great promises of what he would do and didn’t do it. He was one of those kinds of guys that goes whole-hearted into something and then bails back out of it. First one in, first one out, vacillating. The Lord changed his name, I think, because He wanted to work on him and He wanted to work on him in an immediate way. And it was very easy to do once He gave him the name Rock because by what Jesus called him He sent him a message. If He said to him, “Simon,” then he was acting like his old self. If He said to him, “Rock,” he was acting the way the Lord wanted him to act.

Now for a few words about some of the other Apostles mentioned in this passage.

I’ve written about Matthew before. And Judas. You might also have read my post on ‘doubting’ Thomas. Yet, MacArthur reminds us that there was another side to him:

He had a profound love for the Lord. It shows up again in John 14…this again, a very familiar portion of Scripture. The upper room discourse, the night of the Passover, Jesus’ night of meeting with His disciples and Judas betrays Him that night, as you know. Judas has been dismissed, as recorded in chapter 13 and now in chapter 14 the disciples are troubled, the Apostles are troubled. Very troubled because Jesus has told them that one of them is betraying Him, they’re moving in on the cross. They know the Lord is going to leave. He had even told Peter he’s going to deny Him. And there’s a tremendous troubling among the Apostles. So Jesus says in verse 1, “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. I am going, but in My Father’s house there are many dwelling places, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I’ll come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I’m going.”

In verse 5 Thomas speaks. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where You’re going, how do we know the way?” This is just a few days later and again we see his pessimism. “You’re leaving, we’ll never get there, we don’t know how to get there, how we supposed to get there? It was a better plan for us to die with You because then there’s no separation. We’ll just go and we’ll die and then we’ll all be together. But if You just go, how are we ever going to find You? We don’t know how to get there.”

This is a man with deep love. This is a man with a relationship with Christ that was so strong that he didn’t ever want to be severed from Him. And his heart is really broken as he speaks. He’s shattered. The thought of losing Christ paralyzes him. He had become so associated and attached to Jesus in these years that he would be glad to die with Christ, but he certainly didn’t want to live without Him. I like that, don’t you? Just let me die, just don’t leave me, just don’t go without me ’cause I don’t know how to get there.

And Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” Whatever…whatever I do I’ll always be the way for you, always be the life for you, I’ll always be the truth for you.

This was just overwhelming for Thomas who would eagerly die with Christ, rather than be separated from Him

MacArthur tells us as much as possible about James the son of Alphaeus:

Now he had a name that was shared by some others. James the son of Zebedee who was the brother of John. And James is known to us and there are several incidents in the gospels where James appears. And then there was another James, the James the brother of our Lord. Our Lord had a half-brother born to Joseph and Mary by the name of James. He later became the leader of the Jerusalem Council and authored the epistle James. But this James, the son of Alphaeus, is just obscure. We don’t even know anything about Alphaeus.

But interestingly enough were you to look at Mark 15:40 you would see him there called, “James the mikros, micro James, Little James.” I think the NAS translates it “James the Less.” Little James. Now what does it mean, mikrosfrom which we get micro? Well he was little. Well in what way was he little? Well it could refer to his physical features, he could have been very small, just a little guy. And that’s perhaps true. It may also be that he was young in age. It would be hard to imagine that were he an older man he would still be bearing the moniker “Little James.” They may have wanted to show a little more deference to his age.

It is also true that he was something of a background person, and that’s why he’s called “Little James,” or “James the Less,” small James. Perhaps it’s some kind of a combination of that, we certainly can’t be dogmatic, but let’s for our mind’s sake assume that he was a kind of a small sort of quiet person …

And, in fact, the New Testament tells us absolutely nothing about him. However, I have some things to say about him, sort of from the white spaces.

Historical tradition tells us, however, that he was sent after Pentecost to Persia to preach the gospel, modern Iran. And there preached the gospel. The gospel was rejected by the power that was there and he was crucified for his faithfulness to Christ, just as his Lord had been crucified. The legacy for Iran was pagan Islam. The Lord uses people who seem not extraordinary at all. Here is such a quiet, unknown soldier.

Perhaps, like MacArthur, you have questions about the following with regard to James the Less:

Now although Scripture doesn’t say anything about him, I just want to introduce you to an interesting thought. In Mark chapter 2 verse 14, Jesus passes by the tax office of Levi/Matthew, whom we saw last time. And notice this, he saw Levi, the son of…whom?…who?…Alphaeus. Could it be that this James was the brother of Matthew? That could be. There is no effort on the part of the Scripture writer to distinguish between the two Alphaeuses, could be. That wouldn’t be uncommon since Peter and Andrew were brothers and James and John were brothers. Why not these two? Why not James and Matthew/Levi?

There’s another interesting thought, probably less likely but at least it p[ique]s my curiosity. In the nineteenth chapter of John at the crucifixion of Jesus, there in verse 25, was standing by the cross of Jesus, His mother, Mary, His mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas,” see that name Cleophas? Some scholars tell us that Cleophas is just another form of Alphaeus so that if this James was the son of the sister of Mary, he would have been Jesus’ cousin. Well, was James the cousin of our Lord? Was he the brother of Matthew? We don’t know. But you know something, it doesn’t matter to the Lord. All of that really isn’t important.

For those of us curious about the Apostles other than Judas — carefully designated as the traitor in the New Testament, possibly not to confuse him with Jude Thaddeus (Book of Jude) — let us pray that we meet them one day in eternity.

Next time: Luke 7:18-23

In my post on La Rochelle, I mentioned that the Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny urged his co-religionists to travel to Brazil with a view to religious refuge and developing trade.

What follows is the story of what was then known as France Antarctique. The map from the first trip in 1555 (courtesy of Wikipedia) shows Guanabara Bay — already named Rio Janeiro. This is where Rio de Janeiro is today.

File:Rio 1555 França Antártica.jpg

Background

Gaspard (Caspar) II de Coligny — to give him his full name — came from an old and influential line of noblemen in Burgundy. They had been in direct service to French kings since the Middle Ages, often distinguishing themselves in battle. They also had a distinguished bloodline which carried through to every European royal family today (emphases mine):

Coligny is directly descended from notable individuals such as Alfred the Great, Rollo the Viking, William the Conqueror, Hugh Capet and various Kings of England, Kings of France, Counts of Savoy and crusaders.

Through Gaspard’s daughter Louise de Coligny the Princess of Orange, fourth wife of William I, Prince of Orange, Gaspard is the progenitor of a line of Princes of Orange, Kings and Queens of the Netherlands

The inheritors of former thrones such as the Russian monarchy are also directly descended from Coligny, including notable individuals such as the Tsars of Russia Alexander III and Nicholas II. Coligny is the ancestor of King William III of England, Frederick the Great and the present British Royal Family also directly descends from him.

Every monarchy in Europe currently has Coligny’s blood embodied on its throne.[1]

By the 1550s, a number of French noble families and members of the merchant class had converted to Calvinism. Coligny was among them, influenced by his brother d’Androt. Tensions were beginning to build between Catholics and Protestants.

Coligny sought to protect his fellow Protestants whilst doing something productive for France. Therefore, he proposed to King Henry II an expedition to Brazil with a view to settlement.

Yes, the Portuguese had discovered it in 1500, but, having settled some of the northern coastline, they had not yet fully colonised this expansive territory. This left the south coast open to the French. French traders from Dieppe and Saint-Malo had already been trading in the territory with the Indian tribes since the late 15th century.

Coligny’s commercial objective was to expand the French trade in Brazil wood — Pau-Brasil (now endangered) — highly prized for its durability and its red dye. He also hoped to find precious stones and metals, which earlier explorers believed existed.

Henry II was eager to develop what came to be known during that time as France Antartique. This also had the added benefit of getting rid of Huguenots by sending them far, far away.

Whether French trade in Brazil should have been expanded is questionable; some historians say that the Papal Bull of 1493 and the subsequent Treaty of Torsedillas forbade it.

First colonisation, 1555

Henry II provided the fleet of ships for Coligny’s first expedition. Coligny himself did not go, but was the patron for this trip and the second. He enlisted the services of his naval colleague Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon (or Villegagnon) to captain the fleet.

In 1555, Villegagnon set sail with two ships carrying 600 colonists and soldiers. Although Catholics were among that number, most were Huguenots, some from La Rochelle as well as Geneva. They arrived in Guanabara Bay and settled on the island of Serigipe. There, they erected a fort which they named for their patron Coligny. The island itself was renamed Villegagnon. Today, Villegagnon Island is home to the Brazilian Naval School. Villegagnon named a coastal village Henriville in honour of Henry II.

Villegagnon carefully positioned himself as an ally to the native tribes, the Tamoio and Tupinambá, who had been fighting the Portuguese. The Portuguese hardly noticed the French colony, strategically positioned to fight off any attacks.

Second fleet, 1557

In 1556, Villegagnon sent one of his ships back to France with petitions for another fleet with more colonists. His petitions were addressed to Admiral Coligny, Henry II and, possibly, John Calvin.

Henry II quickly responded with three ships. They were under the command of one of Villegagnon’s nephews, Sieur De Bois le Comte.

Coligny organised the people who would accompany him. Three hundred colonists went. John Calvin sent 14 Genevans, including the theologian Pierre Richier, under the leadership of Philippe de Corguilleray. Corguilleray was a Burgundian nobleman enjoying retirement outside of Geneva. The Genevans asked him to lead their group. Among the other passengers were, curiously, five women who were engaged to be married and ten boys who would be trained as translators.

Fascination — and tension — in the camp

Another notable Huguenot and Burgundian was Jean de Léry, who wrote about his experience when he returned to France several years later.

His History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Also Called America (1578) described the fascination and hardship the colonists endured. His Wikipedia entry tells us (emphases mine):

Throughout this book, Léry describes his fascinating voyage across the Atlantic to Brazil. On the way he encounters never before seen ocean wildlife that foreshadows many more discoveries to follow. While on the ship he and his men develop new skills of judging and navigating the winds, stars, currents, and tides. Upon arrival, Léry and his men are exposed to what seems to be an entirely new world. Throughout … the crew encounters a wide variety of people in an area not yet affected by European colonization. With the main goals set at Protestant Reformation, these men face many more challenges than expected, however make discoveries and encounter new things beyond their wildest dreams. [2]

The settlers appear to have made friends with the tribes. There were no forced conversions or hostilities.

Although most of the colonists were Calvinist, there were also Catholics. Villegagnon was himself a Catholic with Calvinist sympathies. The French had a difficult time categorising him. The Austrian author Stefan Zweig wrote a book in 1941 called Brazil, Land of the Future. In it, he described Villegagnon:

Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, half pirate, half scientist, a dubious but attractive figure, is a typical product of the Renaissance (…) He has been brilliant in war and a dilettante in the arts. He has been praised by Ronsard and feared by the Court, because his character is incalculable. Hating any regular occupation, despising the most enviable positions and the highest honours, his volatile spirit prefers to be free to indulge unhampered its fantastic moods. The Huguenots believe he is a Catholic and the Catholics believe he’s a Huguenot. Nobody knows which side he is serving, and he himself probably doesn’t know much more than that he wants to do something big, something different from anyone else, something wild and daring, something romantic and extraordinary.

With a mix of Huguenots and Catholics at Fort Coligny on Villegagnon Island, it wasn’t long before tensions arose in the camp. Religion was a frequent topic of conversation, understandably. Combine that with Villegagnon’s mercurial personality, and arguments erupted frequently. These eventually divided the settlers into factions.

Jean de Cointac was a Dominican friar who became a Calvinist. He was among the men who arrived in 1557. Having studied at the Sorbonne, he attracted Villegagnon’s interest as an excellent debater. The two had intense discussions about Christianity. Over time, they devised their own doctrine which denounced both Catholicism and Calvinism. Villegagnon came to believe that Calvin was an arch-enemy of the Church. Later on, he and Cointac disagreed with each other to the extent that they became enemies.

The Guanabara Confession of Faith, 1558

The religious disagreements, especially about the nature of Holy Communion, swung Villegagnon into high gear. He expelled Cointac from the island.

He also took exception to the Huguenot settlers Jean du Bourdel, Matthieu Verneuil, Pierre Bourdon and André la Fon, arresting them.

He gave the four just time enough to write the first Protestant confession of the New World before hanging them.

This document is the Guanabara Confession of Faith. As I write, it is being translated from Portuguese to English, which accounts for the blank space on the Wikipedia page.

The Guanabara Confession of Faith is clearly Calvinist, drawing heavily on the New Testament and St Augustine. This is Article VIII:

VIII. The holy sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not food for the body as it is to the souls (because we realize nothing fleshly, as we declare in the fifth article) receiving by faith, which is not fleshly.

In October 1557, Villegagnon expelled the Calvinists from his island. They went to live peaceably among the Tupinambá for four months. However, life was hard and unsuitable for the long term.

In January 1558, nearly all the surviving Huguenots sailed back to France with Jean de Léry.

Five others returned to Fort Coligny where Villegagnon wasted no time in drowning them because they refused to recant their religious beliefs.

Defeated by the Portuguese, 1560

In 1560, the Portuguese government ordered the Governor General of Brazil Mem de Sá to expel the French.

Although he and his men — 2,000 troops on 26 ships — destroyed Fort Coligny within three days, many of the French escaped to the mainland to live and work among the Indians.

Jean de Cointac — the man with whom Villegagnon developed a new religious doctrine — was so angry with him that he and Jacques Le Balleur, who had also fallen out with the leader, gave the Portuguese information about the settlement, enabling them to attack it. A century later, the Portuguese built a new fort on the island.

Afterward, two Portuguese Jesuits made friends with the indigenous Tamoios, resolving prior hostilities. Mem de Sá later gave the order for his nephew Estácio to get rid of the French once and for all. Estácio de Sá founded the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1565 and launched attacks on the French. It would take two more years before they were finally defeated.

What happened next

The French made sporadic attempts to colonise Brazil over the next 140 years, including Rio de Janeiro. One of these new attempts was called France Équinoxiale. Ultimately, all were unsuccessful.

Villegagnon astutely fled his island before the Portuguese invasion of 1560. He said the religious arguments drove him back to France. That same year, he challenged John Calvin to a debate on the nature of the Eucharist; Calvin declined.

To ensure that Villegagnon would not return to Brazil, the Portuguese Crown gave him a handsome sum of money, which he accepted.

In 1561, the theologian from Geneva who was on the first voyage to Brazil — Pierre Richier — wrote a pamphlet denouncing Villegagnon’s behaviour on the island. He had returned to France in 1558 and became the notable Minister of the Church in La Rochelle. He helped to make the city a centre for Calvinist belief.

In 1569, Villegagnon wrote another treatise on the Eucharist, denouncing Calvinism. Two years later he became a Commander of the Order of Malta in Beauvais. He died there later that year, aged 60.

In 1572, a Catholic from the first expedition, André Thevet, wrote a denunciation of the Huguenots in Villegagnon’s colony.

Jean de Léry‘s response to this was his book, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Also Called America (1578). Once he returned to France, de Léry was never the same. On the positive side, he became a Calvinist pastor. On the other hand, his marriage was an unhappy one. He also led a group of Huguenots during the Siege of Sancerre, saying that his time in Brazil enabled him to make do with little. He taught his men how to endure hardship during a time of persecution.

Fortunately, this story of French colonisation has not been forgotten, even today. A French-Portuguese-Brazilian television series called Rouge Brésil/Vermelho Brasil (Red Brazil) aired in 2012. Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard played Villegagnon.

Next time: The Huguenots in St Kitts

After 1764, the Huguenots were increasingly accepted into French society, although without any legal edict decreeing this acceptance. However, persecution was fresh in popular memory. The illustration shows a Protestant being broken on a wheel in Toulouse in 1762.

Huguenot Toulouse 1762 Wikipedia CalasChapbook

Edict of Versailles, 1787

In 1787, Louis XVI signed the Edict of Tolerance, also known as the Edict of Versailles. This edict overturned the 102-year old Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (the Edict of Fontainebleau).

This came about after French statesmen and philsophers — as well as American visitors to the French court, such as Benjamin Franklin — pressed for legal rights and religious liberties for Huguenots.

Although Catholicism was still the state religion, the Edict of Versailles enabled non-Catholic worshippers to practice their faith, whether they were Huguenots, Lutherans (in the northeast) or Jews.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789

The French Revolution began in 1789 and lasted ten years.

In 1789, the National Constituent Assembly wasted no time in drawing up the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This declared all French citizens ‘equal in the eyes of the law’.

Some American Protestants object to the Enlightenment — wrongly, in my opinion. This declaration, as is true of the Bill of Rights and Constitution of the United States, was essential for citizens’ legal rights and religious practice.  It is staggering to think that an American literalist living in the suburbs could find this objectionable because such documents are secular or were drawn up by people who didn’t share their beliefs. That is a curious attitude to have, especially as those men enabled them to live in the freest country in the world (until 2001, at any rate). Such documents have to be secular, otherwise, we run the risk of compromising liberty, which inevitably results in persecuting others, as history (including this series on Huguenots) has shown.

The Right of Return, 1790

One year after the 1789 Declaration, the French government invited descendants of Huguenots to return to France with the promise of full citizenship:

All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals (naturels français) and will benefit from rights attached to that quality if they come back to France, establish their domicile there and take the civic oath.

However, it is thought that not many Huguenots returned. Nonetheless, this was an important concession on behalf of the government.

The Musée Protestant (Protestant Museum) states that by 1791 Protestants in France were satisfied with their rights (emphases in the original):

They were given civil equality, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.

The Declaration of Human and Civil rights on 26th August 1789, granted them freedom of conscience and the Constitution in 1791, freedom of worship.During the Revolution years, the behaviour of the Protestants was not consistent. Individuals responded differently to the Revolution. Many Protestants took part in Revolution Meetings, but there was no “Protestant group”.

During the Reign of Terror, the Dechristianisation phenomenon – September 1793 to July 1794 – did not have a great effect on the Protestant community, even though worship was suspended almost everywhere. But it did mean most pastors temporarily stopped their activity. After Robespierre’s death, on 9 Thermidor year II (27th July 1794), churches were re-opened and freedom of worship proclaimed.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1793

This Declaration put more of an emphasis on equality of all citizens, in an attempt to address social inequality:

Article 21 states that every citizen has a right to … work and society has a duty to provide relief to those who cannot work. Article 22 declares a right to education.

The 1793 Declaration made the language of the 1789 Declaration more specific:

The declaration explicitly states the freedom of religion, of assembly, and of the press (article 7), of commerce (article 17), of petition (article 32). Slavery is prohibited by article 10 which states “Every man can contract his services and his time, but he cannot sell himself nor be sold: his person is not an alienable property.”

Organic Articles, 1802

When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he was intent on eliminating any loopholes in the law with regard to religious practice.

His Organic Articles of April 1802 had 121 articles concerning worship. Seventy-seven related to the Catholic Church and 44 to the Protestants.

Protestants:

received the freedom to worship, but they were to have no national synod, which may have created a state within the state. Rather, the law established regional church organisations known as consistoires.

Consistories are normal, worldwide practice for Reformed (Calvinist) denominations as synods are for Lutherans. These were devised by church leaders centuries ago. It’s important to know that Napoleon did not devise this polity; it already existed. It seems that he did not want the Protestant churches to stray from this system of governance.

In any event, it took from 1559 to 1802 to fully guarantee Huguenots the right of worship in their own country.

Later developments

In 1889, the French slightly modified their citizenship law with regard to descendants of Huguenots who wished to move to France and become citizens of that nation. The 1790 Right to Return still applied, but became more formalised, involving a decree for each person as well as an oath.

In 1945 France revoked the automatic right of Huguenot descendants to French citizenship.

In 1985 — the 300th anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes — the then-president François Mitterand formally apologised for the persecution of the Huguenots. La Poste issued a commemorative postage stamp in their memory.

Tomorrow: The Huguenot colony in Brazil

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