Huguenot Migration


It could be argued that the Huguenots were the first refugees in Britain, escaping religious persecution in France, and being accepted by the English king at the time who signed an official charter accepting them in on account of the danger they faced at home. The attitude to England accepting them was mixed, and there was a new fear of strangers that arose.

Causes of Migration

France was a Catholic country, but had a number of civil wars over religion in the 16th Century. A large number of people died, but there were number of events that led to huge numbers of Protestants being murdered and looking for places to emigrate to, to escape the killings.

Events in France

There were number of events in France that led to increased emigration. The first were the religious civil wars between 1560 and 1590 where the Catholic majority fought the Protestant minority. In 1572, the St Bartholemew’s Day Massacre led to the murder of over 73,000 protestants throughout France and was a huge turning point in the French religious wars, and for migration of the Huguenots to Britain. During the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), he once again decided that the Protestant Huguenots were a threat to his absolute power, so made them heretics who faced persecution once more, announcing a second wave of migration to Britain.

Consequences in England

The French Huguenots contributed massively to British life. They were highly skilled in the crafts and out their skills to use revitalising British industries. The biggest contributions were in areas such as watch-making, gun-making, bookbinding, weaving, joining, and paper making. These skills and their application made Britain even richer. There was, however, some anti-French resistance to the new refugees, who were treated badly in some areas of society.

Consequences in France

The consequences of the loss of the Huguenots was felt in France, as they lost the talented merchants and craftsmen when they moved to Britain, slowing down France’s progress. This led to cash being offered to Huguenots to return to France at some points, and the Edict of Nantes being signed by King Henri IV granting the Protestants freedom to practice their religion, but this changed under the rule of Louis XIV.

Simiarities with American Migration

There are many similarities of the migration to America of the Pilgrim Fathers and the migration to Britain of the Huguenots. The timescale of the migrations was similar, with both happening quite quickly over a short period of time, the causes of migration were similar if you look at the religious persecution of the Pilgrim Fathers and of the Huguenots, the numbers of people and consequences for Britain were also similar too.

Who were the Huguenots?
french protestants
What was the impact of Huguenot migration on Britain?
Your answer should include: restarted / British / industry / new crafts / trade skills / anti-refugee resentment
What was the impact of Huguenot migration on France?
Your answer should include: loss / industry / trades / craftsmen