The former protestant home became a museum
In 1945 Mme. Bage bequeathed the entire estate, in memory of her son, to the Société d’histoire du protestantisme français (SHPF) – it was the “Philippe Bage Foundation”.
Two rooms tell the story of four centuries of Protestantism, which came to the West of France at an early date (Calvin was in Poitiers in 1534). Protestant leaders such as Condé had a great influence during the religious wars, then when the edict of Nantes was signed, protestant strongholds were built in Niort and Fontenay. You can find information about the siege of La Rochelle by Richelieu and also the terrible “dragonnades” before the Revocation which forced more than 100,000 protestants into exile. On the other hand, some protestants remained in France, maintaining their allegiance to the Reformation and reorganizing the Church before the Edict of Tolerance (1787) and the Concordat agreement in 1802 gave them back their civic and religious rights. In the part of the exhibition dedicated to XIXth century, you can see how local protestant communities were gradually integrated into French society.
History is told through visual documents (e.g. a map of La Rochelle before the siege), photographs and maps which have been very carefully made by the museum’s first curator, a scholarly man called pastor Paul Romane. As well as these, you can find :
- books : Bibles, Psalters dating back to the XVIth century, works of theological controversy, books by the professors of the well-known Académie de Saumur ;
- manuscripts : official acts signed in the “Désert” and registers of the consistories, such as the ordination of pasteur Poignard in 1760 ;
- Objects such as a travelling pulpit and a communion chalice from the “Désert”, counters from La Rochelle, “mereaux” and moulds for mereaux, objects used in domestic life in the château or during the long ministry of pasteur Germain, who re-organized the Church at the time of the Revival in the XIXth century.
In an adjacent room, an audio-visual show retraces the difficult years between 1685 and 1688 through the life of Jean Migault, a primary school teacher – it is based on his Journal.
The entrance hall and the first floor landing have been rebuilt to welcome visitors – here, you can find several works of interest to protestants, including a complete series of the SHPF bulletins. It is also possible to consult Pasteur Rivière’s enormous collection of books on the protestants of Poitou.
You will find a large car-park and a shady picnic area to welcome you on your visit.
The French Protestant Museum of the West of France
Château du Bois-Tiffrais - 85110 Monsireigne
- Site du Musée de la France protestante de l’ouest | Link
The House of Protestantism in Poitou
Since 1987, The House of Protestantism in Poitou, in the Inter-regional Park of the Marais Poitevin, has been a useful source of information abut the history of protestantism in Poitou and its effect on the economy and culture of the area.
Museum of Protestantism in the Vivarais region
The Museum of Protestantism in the Vivarais can be found in a XVth century fortified building, built in the Boutières style typical of the Ardèche, and classified as a historical site. It is in a little hamlet called Bouschet de Pranles (on the D2 between Privas and Les Ollières-sur-Eyrieux, and signposted from the Moulin à vent pass.)
Jeanne d'Albret Museum, the history of Protestantism in Béarn
The Désert museum
The “Désert” period in French Protestantism lasted from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIIV (1685) to the Edict of Tolerance (1787), when Louis XVI restored civil rights to all non-catholics. It was a period when the protestants resisted pressure against them to convert to catholicism – at the beginning they took to arms (the Camisard revolt), but later they rejected the idea of violent combat, choosing instead a pacifist attitude. It was a dangerous time for them and crucial for the survival of their faith in France.
Protestant Museum of the Dauphiné
The protestant museum of the Dauphiné is situated in a XVth century building which became a temple two centuries later. Together with the temple of Collet de Dèze in Lozère, it is unusual in the fact that it was not pulled down at the time of the Revocation. Le Poet-Laval is a picturesque medieval village, a military post belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who joined the Reform Movement in the XVIth century.