The fort on île Sainte-Marguerite: a royal prison
Protestants were imprisoned in the fort for “religious offenses” in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In 1950 a Huguenot memorial was placed in a former cell. It pays homage to six Protestant ministers jailed for life:
- Paul Cardel called Noyer,
- Pierre Bruneton called Valsec,
- Gabriel Mathurin called Lestang,
- Matthieu de Malzac called Bastide, Molen or de Lisle,
- Elisée Giraud
- Gardien Givry.
Exiled at the time of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, they clandestinely came back to France to preach the Gospel, the pastors were arrested in Paris, sentenced to life imprisonment and jailed in the fort.
To break their isolation, they sang psalms, signs of prayer and assertion of their faith, which could be heard from one cell to the next.
The memorial mainly consists of a commemorative plaque and a modern work of art (2005) barred speech, which reminds us of the tribulations and trials of French Protestants under the Ancient Régime, beyond the particular story of each jailed minister, is the ever present worldwide struggle for freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion. The memorial created under the aegis of the Society of French Protestantism history, has been housed in the musée municipal de la Mer (Municipal Museum of the Sea) in the city of Cannes since 1985.
The Huguenot memorial
in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
Fort de l'île Sainte-Marguerite
- Site du Mémorial huguenot de l’île Sainte-Marguerite | Link
The French Protestant Museum of the West of France
12 kilometers south-west of Pouzauges, in “Le Bois Tiffrais” (or Tiffray), in the commune of Monsireigne, the Société d’histoire du protestantisme français has set up a museum in a building which has nearly always been in the hands of protestants since the XVIth century. It was redesigned as a “French château” at the end of the XIXth century.
Museum of the Cevenol Valleys
In this traditionally deeply protestant region, this hostile environment has had its effect on the local inhabitants : farmers here had to be tough, uncompromising, brave and with great willpower to overcome obstacles and difficulties if they were to survive. The Bible has always been their source of inspiration, strength and happiness.
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.)
Museum of protestant history in La Rochelle
This museum was funded in 1931 by the pastor Samuel Eynard and entirely renovated in 1995. It is now installed in rooms near the temple looking out onto an inner garden. There is a large collection of documents, engravings and various objects which tell us about protestant history in Aunis and Saintonge.
Pierre Bayle Museum
Royal repression against the Protestants
The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 made any Protestant worship illegal, for instance temples were demolished and pastors expelled. As for the Protestants, they were forbidden to leave the Kingdom.
The persecutions against them were deemed absolutely legitimate at the time according to the interpretation of Luke’s verse 14:23 ‘compel them to come in’: the Protestants were considered heretic and schismatic and had to be brought back within the Catholic Church. Death penalty, sentence to galleys for men, to prison for women…The repressive measures were varied, but failed to defeat Protestant resistance, as in the example of Marie Durand who was locked up in Aigues-Mortes for 38 years.