In the seventeenth century, many refugees saw the United Provinces of the Netherlands as a promised land—a gathering ark, or in French, arche. In fact, Pierre Bayle called it, "la grande arche des fugitifs." This thesis shows the reception of one particular group of Protestant refugees, the Huguenots, who migrated to the Netherlands because of Catholic confessionalization in France, especially after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The thesis offers two case studies—one of the acceptance of Huguenot clergymen and one of the mixed reception of refugee radical and philosopher Pierre Bayle—in order to add nuance to existing knowledge and understanding of the Huguenot diaspora, and of the nature of tolerance in the Dutch Republic, especially in regard to the Dutch Reformed Church. Dutch society, and especially the Reformed Church, welcomed the Huguenot refugees because of their similar religious beliefs and the economic and cultural benefits they brought with them. Particularly following the 1685 Revocation, refugees fleeing France settled securely in the Republic amongst the Walloons, descendants of refugees already settled there, and worshiped in prosperity and peace within the Walloon Church, a French-speaking arm of the Dutch Reformed Church. Using synodal records, this thesis examines the relationships between refugee pastors and the established Walloon leaders and finds that there was a bond of acceptance between the two groups of clergy, motivated by the desire for orthodoxy in religious belief, or in other words, by a Reformed desire for confessionalization"”more Reformed adherents also made Dutch society more Reformed. Huguenots were also able to maintain a measure of French identity while still being integrated into Dutch society. The second chapter shows the limits of Dutch tolerance by examining the Netherlandish experience of Pierre Bayle, a Huguenot refugee and philosopher. His experience was typical for a controversial philosopher and refugee in the Netherlands because he endured intolerance from certain religious authorities, but also received protection from other moderate religious officials and university and civic authorities. Bayle expressed sentiments that the Netherlands was a safe haven, or ark, for refugees, even though he endured censure from church officials. Their aims were to make the community's religious convictions more uniform, and some leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church saw Bayle's ideas as threats to that—to confessionalization. In the same vein as Benjamin Kaplan's Divided By Faith, this thesis shows that tolerance certainly existed in the Republic, but was more complicated than Bayle and others suggested. Indeed, efforts that thwarted confessionalization were met with intolerance by the Dutch Reformed Church. This thesis also contributes to Huguenot studies by discussing the relationships of refugees to their host community in the Dutch Republic.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History



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Document Type





Huguenot, refugee, pastor, Pierre Bayle, Confessionalization, Dutch Republic, Netherlands, France, Revocation, Walloon, Dutch Reformed Church, Edict of Nantes, tolerance



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