French Protestants of the 16th–17th century, many of whom suffered severe persecution for their faith.

The first French Huguenot community was founded in 1546, and the confession of faith drawn up by the first synod in 1559 was influenced by the ideas of John Calvin. Their numbers increased rapidly and they became a political force, led by Gaspard II de Coligny. Conflicts with the Roman Catholic government and others, including the House of Guise, led to the Wars of Religion (1562–98). A Huguenot political party was formed in 1573 to fight for religious and civil liberties. The powerful anti-Huguenot Holy League was formed in 1576. Henry IV ended the civil wars by abjuring Protestantism in 1593 and converting to Catholicism, but in 1598 he promulgated the Edict of Nantes, granting rights to Protestants. Civil wars occurred again in the 1620s, the Huguenots lost their political power, and they continued to be harassed and forcibly converted. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes; over the next several years, more than 400,000 French Protestants left France.

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Universalium. 2010.

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