This 18th century mansion that now houses the New World Museum’s collections comprised two houses bought within a few years by Aimé-Benjamin Fleuriau who joined them together with significant work in 1780.
Aimé-Benjamin and his wife Marie-Anne-Suzanne Liège belonged to the wealthy families of shipowners and traders, their fortune came from maritime trade and to the product of their plantations in Santo Domingo. They played an active and generous role in the Protestant community when it reconstituted itself in the second half of the 18th century. But La Rochelle mainly remembers their son Louis-Benjamin Liège as a scientist and a man of property who created the museum of natural history and was known for his inexhaustible generosity. He would say: ‘fortune needs to be forgiven through ardent and enlightened charity’.
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A walk through Protestant La Rochelle
As early as 1546, La Rochelle was one of the major cities in the kingdom won over to the Reformation.
La Rochelle had been an economic and maritime power since the 12th century, and did business with all the Protestant Northern states, namely England, the Netherlands and the Hanseatic cities.
In 1628, La Rochelle was taken by Louis XIII’s troops which ended Protestant supremacy of the city.
Upon the revocation in 1685 the inhabitants left the city massively. In 1802 there were only a thousand Protestants left.
The Protestant memory is still very present in La Rochelle, see the Rochelais museum and the tour around the city.