Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30, 2012

The Attack on Fort Caroline, French Florida

The date was September 20th, 1565. The Great Siege of Malta had ended only nineteen days earlier. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was about to reach the ripe old age of five months. St. Augustine, Florida, the “Nation’s Oldest City,” was celebrating its twelfth day of life. William Shakespeare was nearly seventeen months old. It had been nineteen months since the death of the celebrated Michelangelo. September 20th was a “day that would live in infamy” for its brutalized residents, but a day that went sadly unnoticed throughout the rest of the world.

On the 19th of September, Fort de la Caroline, a French Protestant colony on the banks of the Riviere de Mai or St. Johns River in wild sixteenth century Florida, must not have looked like much to the untrained eye. It was rather small, flimsy, and ill-defended, and recent hurricane rains had caused significant damage.  Yet to the inhabitants it represented life in so many ways. First, it protected them from the outside world, from marauding natives, wild animals, ravaging weather, and Spanish conquistadors who bayed for their blood. Second, it was a bastion of dreams, of religious freedom, of hope of a new life.

When the 20th dawned, that ramshackle fort on which so many lives were staked was soon to be an ugly memory. The raid came without warning. Frenchmen slept exhaustedly after days of gale-force winds and unstoppable torrents. They sprawled out in tents, cottages, and makeshift hammocks. Children slept close to their mothers’ sides, and men in nightshirts, discarding the demands of the militia to play civilian even if just temporarily, guarded their families. “Butchers and bakers and candle-stick makers” slept and dreamed of equality.

Then the Spanish came.

It was a grossly-unmatched fight. Few Frenchmen managed to grab weapons, and women and children sought shelter while their husbands and fathers helplessly fought off the conquistadors. There had been no time to dress, no time to put on armor. The Spanish were fighting an ‘army’ of soldiers in nightshirts. The fight lasted only thirty minutes, and when that time had elapsed, a barren wasteland of nightmares emerged where a fresh new land of dreams had so recently existed. Most of the men were killed outright. The women and children were taken prisoner and hustled away to places unknown; their fates were never recorded. And little La Caroline, the pride and joy of her settlers despite her ramshackle state, somberly flew the Spanish flag.

Today let us remember the dead --- and the dreams that could never be.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23, 2012

****When I began this blog, preparing for a trip to St. Augustine, Florida, its purpose was to honor the French Protestant Huguenots who died in 1565 in the Spanish siege of La Caroline and the subsequent martyrdom at Matanzas. This is a story that for some reason has always been very close to my heart. Also, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572 was always a main focus. With this in mind, I am going to start “recycling” some of my older posts concerning Matanzas and La Caroline and sometimes St. Bartholomew’s, subjects which I feel are and always have been the main focus of my blog.****

French Huguenots in Florida: From Beginning to End

Whenever I think of the ill-fated French Huguenot colony in early Florida, it fills me with sadness I can barely describe. The entire venture was fraught with setbacks from the very beginning. Let’s enumerate.

(1)    The event that finally propelled the colonists to set sail in May 1565 was a sudden storm that threatened to carry the ships out to sea, persuading them they must go aboard and be carried along on the waves or be left behind. What a harbinger!

(2)    Those same storms blew the French ships in the direction of Havre de Grace, France, rather than out to sea, and they were forced to remain off the coast of England near the Isle of Wight until mid-June. They finally headed out to the open sea on June 14th.

(3)    Seven days after arriving in La Floride and Fort Caroline, on September 04, 1565, French ships guarding the entrance to the harbor were accosted by a small Spanish fleet. They fled to sea and were hotly pursued, but they managed to escape.

(4)    French admiral Jean Ribault ordered that his ablest soldiers, those who had just arrived in Florida and had barely had time to acclimate, should go back aboard ship so they might wipe out San Agustín before the Spaniards could do the same to La Caroline. None of these men had any idea that in a few weeks’ time they would be martyred on the beaches of Matanzas. Also, with these soldiers gone, few men capable of defending themselves were left at La Caroline.

(5)    A hurricane sank Ribault’s fleet, including his flagship Trinité. Some men were drowned. Those who survived managed to reach land. They had only a short while left to live.

(6)    The San Mateo hurricane nearly destroyed Fort Caroline’s defenses and served to make the colonists miserable. In a stroke of bad timing, the guardsmen, unable to suffer the rain and wind any longer, went to bed. They believed no one would want so badly to attack them that they would come through a hurricane. This proved to be a false assumption.

(7)    On September 20, 1565, Spanish conquistadors, endowed with a hatred of everything Protestant and disgusted that Frenchman had dared to settle a colony on “Spanish” land, raided Fort Caroline. Most of the men were killed outright. Women and children were taken prisoner. Their fates are unknown. A relatively small number of survivors, including painter Jacques le Moyne de Morgues and former commander René de Goulaine de Laudonnière, found a ship to take them back to France.

(8)    On September 29, Pedro Menéndez caught up with the survivors of Ribault’s shipwrecked fleet. They were told to convert or die for their Protestant faith. Over one hundred men lost their lives in this way. They were given no burials and were left on the shores of Matanzas without the slightest hint of respect. It was not until early 1566 that relatives back in France would hear of their loved ones’ fates.

(9)     October 12, 1565, brought yet another massacre. Another hundred men or so were advised to surrender. Those who could not in good conscience give up their arms made a harrowing trek to present-day Cape Canaveral. Those who surrendered, hoping for mercy, were martyred as well. Admiral Jean Ribault was one of the victims.

(10) Those Frenchman who had not surrendered at Matanzas were discovered and brought to San Agustín. Many abandoned their faith simply to gain protection (a fact which, considering that their comrades were willing to die for their Protestant beliefs, is quite saddening). King Philip of Spain advised that survivors should be made into galley slaves. Oddly enough, Menéndez, not seeing himself as outnumbered, did not kill these men.

Quick recap: In August 1565, La Caroline was a haven of Protestant religious freedom. There were men, women, and children of varying ages, soldiers, tailors, adventurers, noblemen, and many more such colonists. Though the earlier wave of colonists had been starving, they now had fresh supplies, brought by Jean Ribault and his fresh fleet of settlers. A bevy of beautiful French galleons bobbed just beyond La Caroline’s defenses. Protestant Psalms were sung and Protestant prayers were said without fear of retribution.

By December 1565, just four months later, nearly all of the men of La Caroline were dead, many having fallen at the forever-haunted Matanzas in a gory final act to the play of atrocities that had dogged the French since the beginning. The fort had been destroyed and converted into a Spanish citadel known as Fort San Mateo. The women and children were languishing in Puerto Rico or other Spanish-run locations, and it is not known how many, if any, ever saw France again. Admiral Jean Ribault would stalk the waters no more. The French flag had been forcibly ripped from La Floride, never to return.

Florida’s French Huguenot colony was a study in lost dreams, destroyed far too quickly and with more brutality than anyone could have imagined. Murphy’s Law was definitely enforced --- from the day that Ribault’s fleet first set sail, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. One can stand at the reconstructed Fort Caroline and actually feel the broken dreams. The spirit of loss, grief, and thwarted freedom is tangible. And, as much as I love vacationing in Spanish St. Augustine, I cannot help but feel a flash of resentment that the French settlement once laid in ruins while the Spanish one thrived. One needed to die for the other to be born. St. Augustine survived and grew great, while La Caroline --- poor, ill-fated La Caroline --- was trampled, bloodied, and forgotten. It is a tragedy impossible to comprehend.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012

For today’s spiritual inspiration I decided to turn to the “Valley of Vision,” a book of Puritan poetry with selections that always show incredible insight. I particularly liked “Openness”:

Lord of immortality,
Before Whom angels now and archangels veil their faces,
    enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear.
Thou who art Spirit and requires truth in the inward parts,
    Help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth.
Thou who art righteous,
    Let me not harbor sin in my heart,
        or indulge a worldly temper,
        or seek satisfaction in things that perish.
I hasten towards an hour
    when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain,
    when it will be indifferent whether I have been rich or poor,
        successful or disappointed, admired or despised.
But it will be of eternal moment that I have
    mourned for sin,
    hungered and thirsted after righteousness,
    loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity,
    gloried in His cross.
May these objects engross my chief solicitude!
Produce in me those principles and dispositions 
    that make Thy service perfect freedom.
Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame,
    so that with firmness and courage I may
        confess the Redeemer before men,
        go forth with Him bearing His reproach,
        be zealous with His wisdom,
        walk with His circumspection,
        ask counsel of Him in all things,
        repair to the Scriptures for His orders,
        stay my mind on His peace,
    knowing that nothing can befall me
        without His permission, appointment and administration.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 09, 2012

Andreas Karlstadt: Radical Visionary

If you’ve studied Martin Luther’s life or seen any of the movies concerning him, either old or new, you might be familiar with controversial theologian Andreas Karlstadt. Karlstadt, who approved of Luther’s ideas but believed Luther did not take the idea of reformation quite far enough, took it upon himself to put his own spin on newborn Protestant doctrines. He wasn’t interested in diplomacy either with Catholicism or with Protestantism. Though he insisted that he was willing to “play nice” with others, both Luther and the Duke of Saxony found him distasteful and banished him from Saxony in the early 1520s.

Perhaps the authorities sensed the interest he took in Anabaptist beliefs and took note of many similarities between him and his Anabaptist counterparts. The 2003 movie “Luther” shows Luther coming upon a church where Karlstadt has ordered his men to tear down and destroy statuary. There is an argument, whereupon Karlstadt is offended that Luther cannot see his point of view and does not advocate his radical actions. Though this particular scene might have been adapted for cinema, it is likely that there were such altercations between the two men.

Karlstadt remained busy. Like John Calvin and other Protestants who saw the Catholic iconography of the day as idolatry, he took the more Calvinistic stance that advocated destroying statues, images, and relics. His tendency for showing force in such regards put a further chasm between himself and Luther, who had never ordered such destruction. During the tempestuous 1520s when Protestant believers were just beginning to separate themselves from Catholic orthodoxy and there was a great amount of fervor and ill-feeling on both sides, Karlstadt took advantage of the chaos to further his church purges. This man so well-known for controversy suffered a fate not unusual for the time but unusual among reformers; he died of plague on Christmas Eve 1541. He was 55 years old.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 02, 2012

The Protestant Church No One Remembered

In St. Augustine, Florida there is a beautiful Catholic mission that marks the spot where Christianity was said to have originated in the New World. While it is true that this is the spot where Catholic Christianity was started, and that this event marked the instance of the first Catholic mass in the country, there almost definitely would have been some kind of church or chapel at the French Protestant settlement of La Caroline near present-day Jacksonville, Florida.

Were it not for the Spanish conquistadors subjecting the Huguenots to martyrdom, Protestant Christianity would have been the first and oldest established Christian faith in America --- an interesting tidbit indeed. Nothing is said of any temporary churches at La Caroline. Contemporary drawings do not show it. Yet the Huguenots, being very religious folk, would have never settled a colony without setting up some house of worship, or several.

So what might it have looked like? It was probably made of thatch and wood, much as the Spaniards built their own churches in the mid-16th century. It is possible there was a cross on the roof but equally possible that there was not . . . the French Calvinists had a strict policy against “idolatry,” and they believed the representation of crosses or crucifixes fell into that category. Inside it was likely very sparse. Churchgoers probably had rough wooden benches. I wonder if carpets brought from France or palm fronds might have decorated the floor. There would have probably been a simple window or two.

This is all conjecture; it does, however, seem very likely that the Huguenot “temple” --- wherever it was, and however it fell --- at La Caroline would have been much like this. It was probably one of the first casualties when Spaniards raided the fort on the morning of September 20, 1565. Historical accounts record that the soldiers burned Protestant texts and anything pertaining to the faith, and it is quite logical that these things would have been kept in a church.

It is a vague possibility that the Spaniards, upon capturing the French settlement and molding it into Fort San Mateo, might have “re-consecrated” any remaining churches and used them for Catholic services. Yet, given the vitriol that Catholics and Protestants felt toward one other in this era, it is questionable to think that they would have been comfortable holding services even in a “purified” structure. Perhaps it was committed to the flames of destruction. We will probably never know for sure . . .

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012

The Battle of Arques, September 1589

For those who are interested in both Christian and 16th century history, the French “Wars of Religion” provide a tapestry of people, places, and events that will not soon leave the mind. Though the major battles, Ivry, Coutras, and others, are fairly well-known, there were many other battles, sieges and smaller engagements that are seldom discussed. One of these is the Battle of Arques. This battle, which took place in September 1589, featured rivals Henri IV de Navarre (Protestant) and the Duc de Mayenne (Catholic).

The battle began as the result of distrust. As Henri IV was a Huguenot and hated by the majority of Catholic France, even his oath to keep Catholicism as the only “endorsed” religion did not satisfy the people. In return, those same distrustful people took up with the Catholic League --- the scourge of European Protestants --- and declared they would never allow a ‘heretic’ leader. Tensions boiled over. Naturally these tensions morphed into the Battle of Arques.

The war had gone on for twenty-seven years, except for a few relatively peaceful but still bloody years. Henri de Navarre needed to resupply and could not. The Duc de Mayenne was feeling confident. Henri believed it was particularly important to guard Dieppe, which was an invaluable Huguenot asset and possibly the most famous port in France. (This is the place from which the fated Huguenot expedition to La Florida set sail in 1565). Charles de Mayenne naturally wanted the city for himself. Henri pondered and consulted. Finally he went to Arques. There would be no blood shed at Dieppe --- this time.

The enemies met on the 15th of September. Both armies could boast artillery that rarely missed its mark, and, as de Mayenne’s men were on the lower ground, they were raked with cannon-fire. Yet they managed to leave damage as well. The royal army and de Mayenne’s army found themselves heavily wounded and nearing defeat. It seemed as it might be a draw. Then came a change. Henri IV was disturbed by his army’s dwindling gunpowder supply and wondered if defeat was in his future. But fate intervened when England, a Protestant country long known as a friend to the Huguenots, managed to bring up a few thousand troops to aid the Huguenot army.

The Duc de Mayenne was not happy to see this.

Viewing another attack is improbable and wanting to regroup in a situation where he might have the upper hand, de Mayenne and his army faded away to their next port of call. The Huguenots had won this round. It would be nine more years of warfare before the Edict of Nantes would put an end to the carnage. One wonders if the soldiers had any idea how long it would last. They would have fought forever if need be. The killings at Vassy in 1562, the event that had set off the first War of Religion, were one thing . . . but the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572 was another thing entirely. Many of the soldiers had lost friends, family, or both in that horrific butchery of Protestant citizens. They would not forget.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012

*** Blogger’s Note: I’ve been posting to Joyously Saved nearly every day since February, and it’s been a blessing. Yet now at the end of November, I’ve decided to begin posting only on Sundays. When I started out I had two particular goals in mind: To bring attention to the little-known French Huguenot massacres of 1565, and to remember other martyrs of the Reformation era such as those who died during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. I have covered these subjects heavily in my blog and I feel it’s time to spread out my posts. ***

Most Americans don’t think of Thanksgiving as a religious holiday. It’s a time to see family, engorge ourselves on foods we dream about for the rest of the year, and possibly attend one or more school plays or other functions where children merrily dress up like Pilgrims and Indians. Yet, for American Protestant Christians, whose history was further written in stone with the arrival of the Puritans in 1620, the holiday means much more.

Although there were earlier New World settlements such as that of the French Huguenots at Fort Caroline, Florida, they did not last. The Puritan colony grew and thrived. Free from worries over rival settlements, they set up a lasting foundation for Protestant Christianity and for faith in general that guided our country for many years.

So why is Thanksgiving not considered a religious holiday? We know to Whom the Pilgrims were giving thanks . . . they fell down in awe of God and His mercy, gratefully praising Him for allowing them to reach America and to settle a territory they earnestly believed would be a “City on a Hill,” a place of religious courage, fortitude, and purity.

Families still ask children what they are thankful for. Friends, family, a place to live, food, and personal belongings are high on the list. But on this Thanksgiving, I want to relate a long-ago story that popped up from my memory banks. My cousin, who was about four at the time, was asked what she was thankful for. Others had answered “food,” “friends,” “toys,” all the usual. But that little girl smiled and said into the camera, “I’m thankful for God.”

Let us all be thankful for God and for His divine Providence now and always. Happy Thanksgiving!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012

Anabaptist Baptist Martyr Hans Landis: A Brief But Fascinating Story

Hans’ exact birth-date is unknown, and no one is sure exactly when he took up the Anabaptist faith. Details are fuzzy until about the year 1608; this is when Hans was put into prison, though, by the grace of God, friends managed to extricate him. By this time he was a man of the cloth and was considered more dangerous than regular Anabaptist believers due to his dispersal of doctrine. The “Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia” states that contemporaries described Landis as having “a long black beard mixed with gray and a manly voice.” As a preacher, he must have used that booming voice much to his advantage.

When Hans was again captured, he resolutely refused to give up his beliefs. Authorities offered him the chance to leave the country; he said no. He explained that they had no power to give and take land and he would not be intimidated by their decrees. Though exile might have saved him more heartache, he remained, and he took what came.

Again the choice of emigration was given to Hans. The alternatives were dank and dismal, and many gave in. But Hans Landis did not. The hand of God facilitated another escape. Taking up ministerial duties once more was a brave but dangerous act, and he found himself once again imprisoned. This time he would not be so lucky. His family, upon learning that he was to be killed, came in full mournful array, but Hans asked them to leave. He explained that witnessing their grief had the potential to turn him from steadfast martyrdom and he could not bear for it to be so.

Hans Landis was beheaded in 1614, having chosen Christ over the joys of life and the love of family. Many American families proudly share his bloodline and keep his name and memory alive today.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Cromwell's Army: Basic Facts

Although I am very interested in Protestant and Christian subjects in general from the 1500s through the 1800s, I have never studied much about the Puritans and the English Civil War. Today I chose a random subject to research. It is difficult to discern how much of the feud between Puritans (“Roundheads”) and mostly Anglicans (“Cavaliers”) was based on religion, as political machinations seemed to have a great deal of influence, yet it was still a fascinating subject. I saw many references to the “New Model Army” and wondered what exactly that meant.

This unique fighting force was formed in 1645, and when the monarchy returned to England fifteen years later, it faded away quietly (or perhaps not-so-quietly). One could call this a religion-based army as many if not all were dyed-in-the-wool Puritans who thoroughly agreed with Oliver Cromwell’s reforms. As an exception, the higher-ups, military men who simply wanted to be free of royal restrictions, fought on the side of the Puritans without harboring Puritan tendencies. Many were, in fact, Presbyterian. Being Calvinist in nature, they must have been considered acceptable by the majority of the Puritan soldiers.

The “New Model Army,” like any army, had well-trained infantrymen and cavalrymen but also had a force of dragoons. In a few decades the word “dragoon” would cause chills of fear to sweep through Protestant sections of Europe, as French dragoons would kill, torture, and terrorize Huguenot families before and during the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. One wonders if Cromwell’s dragoons had a milder reputation among their own people than France’s did among theirs.

What did the “New Model Army” wear? According to images and contemporary accounts, soldiers sported very plain uniforms including a helmet with a back lip and a face protector, chest armor, arm and probably leg armor, and a very plain neck-to-knee cloth garment of a pale color. (There were always variations, but this seems to be how the common soldier would have appeared, to my knowledge). The “New Model Army” joined the ranks of Christian soldiers whose armies were actually divided on the basis of differing religions, i.e. the Catholics and Huguenots during the French Wars of Religion and the Catholics and Protestants of the Thirty Years’ War. Though such conditions had existed previously in history, sectarian violence was much furthered in the 16th and 17th centuries.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Charles II de Quelenec: Victim of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

When I think of Paris, I have a very different image than others, and I don’t think anyone would envy my image. Many associate the grand old city with the soaring, stark beauty of La Tour Eiffel, outdoor cafes, art and music, high fashion, and fabulous shopping, or perhaps with the medieval grandeur of Le Cathédrale de Notre-Dame. Yet having studied 16th century history and having a close and personal connection to the Huguenots, the word “Paris” evokes sadness for me. This is because of the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of August 1572. (See my post of August 24th). I would love to commemorate each and every name if I could, but as so many Protestants were killed (numbers in the thousands) it would be impossible to do so. Thus I occasionally choose a man or woman to write about, to remember, and to try to flesh out as best I can.

His name was Charles de Quelenec, and he was born in a place called Rostrenen in the Cotes-du-Nord of France around the year 1548. In 1567 (five years before death) he married a woman named Catherine de Parthenay-l’Archeveque. It does not appear that Catherine shared Charles’ fate. She was said to have died in 1631. Upon further inspection I did find more information on Charles, although my inability to read French led me to a translation site. It sounds as if Charles is actually “Charles de Quelenec II” and that he was a “Protestant noble” who was murdered for his faith at the Louvre on the night of the St. Bartholomew’s massacre. This information seems to say he was the son of Jean de Quelenec IV and Jeanne de Moor.

It sounds as if Charles held the rank of captain at the time of his marriage to Catherine. She was quite an educated young lady and was well-respected in her era. I was interested to discover, albeit in the sloppiness of imperfect translation, that Charles was apparently captured at the 1569 Battle of Jarnac. Considering that Louis de Condé had been slaughtered outright, Charles may have considered himself lucky. He suffered through such trials as the absence of his wife and lack of a fair trial (I read through the translation as best I could!) and it sounds as Catherine desired a divorce sometime around 1570. By 1572, Charles must have already felt as if he had gone through a great many battles.

He was staying in the Louvre, a royal palace in the 16th century, and probably felt protected there. As a noble with friends in high places, he likely believed that his Protestant creed would be overlooked. (Which was not always the case; see my post of November 17th). By this time there were certain rumors regarding Charles’ inability to produce an heir. Though French society may have hated the Huguenots, even Huguenots were not immune to gossip and were often just as harangued for one thing or another as were their Catholic counterparts. During the massacre Charles and another man were summoned into the courtyard. Embarking on what they probably thought was a routine mission, they were subsequently killed.

Charles de Quelenec’s young and troubled life ended at the age of twenty-four.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012

A Word of Love

The word “grace” is very special to me. It reminds me of God’s promises, of Jesus’ sacrifice, of the agonizing beauty of the cross. It also gives me a direct connection to my Protestant ancestors, martyrs, refugees, men and women of faith. They were willing to die just the right to believe in salvation by grace, and I love songs and poems that speak of this doctrine. Below is a lovely song by Julia H. Johnston, known as “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17, 2012

One of Many, A Story Far Too Common

His name was Jean de la Fontaine, and he was sixty-three years old. In earlier life he would have been well-known for his connections to the French court, for his father insisted that he retain such ties in order to make a good living for himself. He would have been a familiar face in higher circles. Yet by his sixth decade of life he was known for something far more deadly: his Protestant creed.

Jean and his father Gilles had embraced the Reformation in its infancy. Jean, believing that if he remained in court he would be exempt from persecution, stayed in the king’s service. He found it possible to shield fellow French Protestants from harm and he gave his life to the dueling desires of practicing his faith and helping the Huguenots, and of collecting praise from the monarchy so he and his kin might remain safe. This backfired in 1563.

He believed that after the Peace of Amboise, which brought an end to the first bloody War of Religion that had been triggered by the 1562 Massacre of Vassy (see post of August 30th), he was no longer dependent on his court duties to keep him from harm. He willingly gave up his titles and went home to be with a family who rejoiced over the recent ceasing of war. This rejoicing did not last long. On the tenth of May 1563, sixty-three-year-old Jean de la Fontaine was asleep when men discontent with the recent rulings broke into his home and disturbed the peace.

There was little time for negotiation.

Jean was killed on his front lawn for professing the Huguenot faith. His wife, who had taken it upon herself to plead for his life, was treated to the same: martyrdom at the tip of a dagger. It is unknown how many children were in the house at the time, but it is believed that Jean’s firstborn son and perhaps a servant were also killed. Thus ended what had been a noble and affluent life. This end came about not due to any crime on Jean’s part --- though in these first decades of the Reformation and for long after, the mere profession of Protestantism was considered a crime worthy of death --- but due to intolerance, lack of compassion, and fanaticism.

Jean de la Fontaine was but one Huguenot victim of many. I remember reading an opinion once that if Protestants canonized all of their martyrs as Catholics canonize their saints, there would be too many to enumerate.  But our refusal to cast our martyrs in this light does not mean that we do not honor and appreciate them. We are very well aware of our heritage of bloodshed and persecution, a heritage also of strength, steadfastness, and undying faith and fortitude. Jean de la Fontaine is one example . . . one precious, ill-fated example of taking up his cross and following Christ instead of the world.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012

The Lutheran Pietist Movement: Basic Facts

I first heard the word “Pietist” while researching my family history. One of my ancestors, a Lutheran minister, was criticized for not embracing this movement, and I was curious as to what exactly that meant. Pietism sprang up in the 1660s as a response to traditional Lutheranism, which many felt was still clinging too tightly to originally Catholic practices. These men considered themselves Lutheran and did not want to turn to stricter groups such as Puritanism or Anabaptism --- which for the latter would have been illegal --- but they did desire to take Lutheranism by storm.

One such individual was Philipp Jakob Spener, most likely the man who “got the ball rolling” on the actual founding of Pietism.  He wanted to be Lutheranism’s “reformer,” a “modern-day” Martin Luther, taking a large, well-established faith and “cleaning it up” from the inside. It didn’t go quite the way he planned. It makes one wonder if his years in Switzerland, in the former Calvinist stronghold of Geneva, might have conditioned him to appreciate Calvinism’s strict morality and to seek that same piety for the Lutheran faith.

Spener believed that like the medieval Catholic Church, Lutheranism had been swallowed up in ceremony and outside appearances and did not cling tightly enough to the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel (though many devout Lutherans disagreed with this analogy). The arrival of Spener’s tract “Earnest Desire for a Reform of the True Evangelical Church” sent shock-waves through Germany’s large Lutheran population. Most likely it was a cry of “not another fanatic!” but there were also those who shared Spener’s views.

One of the things he suggested was that those who did not share Lutheran views were to be handled with respect. In the bitterly feudal 17th century, in the midst of France’s horrific persecution of Huguenots and a general European martyrdom of Anabaptists, tolerance between faiths was a radical idea indeed. The Lutheran community held mixed views toward Pietism. Many pastors saw merit in Spener’s words and became Pietists. Many did not.

The backlash from this movement was still going strong in the 1740s, when my pastor ancestor was preaching to German emigrant congregations in America.  Many rivalries in which he found himself involved were connected to the Pietist movement, proving that nearly a century after the movement began and probably even longer, tensions were still high.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012

The Ribault Column and the First Protestants in America

The Ribault Column, and, to the right, an interpretive plaque and
the beautiful St. Johns River ("Riviere de Mai")
At the Fort Caroline / Timucuan Ecological Preserve near Jacksonville, Florida there is a tall white column with four bronze plaques, standing over the river that the first French settlers named “Riviere de Mai.” At first glance it might not look like much, though it is impressive . . . it’s the history that makes this memorial column so intriguing. In May 1562, explorer Jean Ribault, whose martyrdom was still three years away, had brought multiple stone columns to “La Floride” for the purpose of marking his landing sites. (More information on Jean Ribault can be found in my post of March 06th). He placed one of these columns near what would one day become Jacksonville. Sadly, though I visited Fort Caroline in March, I wasn’t able to get up to the Column (it’s located a short distance away at the top of a flight of steps). I’ve put it on my itinerary for next year. Luckily one of my traveling buddies did manage to get some photos.

This particular column, of course, is not the original . . . though it would indeed be impressive if a 450- year-old column would look so good! This replica was placed in 1924, and its significance goes far beyond marking the spot where a hearty band of intrepid French explorers came ashore. It represents the beginning of the Protestant faith in America. Before 1562, no Protestants had yet set foot in what would become the United States. One wonders if these men imbued with the spirit of the Reformation even realized the significance of their venture as they stood and watched the first column being heaved into position.

When explorer and Ribault contemporary René de Goulaine de Laudonnière (see my post of March 12th for more on him) returned to the site of the original column years later, he, having been raised to disavow unfamiliar customs, was quite disturbed by what he saw. The native Timucua Indians had been bestowing great veneration upon the column as if they thought it a god. They had heaped decorative items and garlands upon it and had bestowed upon it some kind of otherworldly power. This did not set right with the Huguenots of La Caroline. History failed to record what measures were taken to ensure this did not happen again, or at least I haven’t yet found such a record.

The 1924 column sits on a bluff with beautiful views of the St. Johns River and of natural scenery, and one of its plaques reads as follows: “Erected by the Florida Daughters of the American Revolution – May first 1924 – Commemorating the first landing of Protestants on American soil.” This is big news. This is powerful. Before the Puritans . . . before Protestantism became the bedrock of early American society, before later Protestants became intrigued by the grace, faith, and fortitude of their persecuted ancestors . . . there were Huguenots stepping on Floridian soil for the first time.

Another plaque on the Ribault Column (there are four) reads: “This is a replica of the marker placed on or near this spot by Jean Ribaut – May first 1562 – In taking possession of Florida for France.” The two plaques with text are decorated by a shield, three small fleur de lis, the French royal coat of arms, a laurel wreath, and a hanging cross with a dove that is likely meant to represent the Huguenot cross. The two other plaques are decorated with seashells, the pattern of three fleur-de-lis that was emblazoned on the medieval French flag, and the royal crown.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012

Swedish Reformer Laurentius Petri's Legacy

Today was another one of those “names popping out at me” days, and as I was researching Protestant reformers, I came across the name Laurentius Petri. I admit I had no idea who this man was or what he did. Petri was a Swede who was a near-contemporary of Martin Luther, having been born in 1499. He eagerly adopted (most) Protestant doctrines of the Lutheran variety and gave his life to spreading the Reform throughout Sweden. His brother Olaus greatly assisted in this venture.

Laurentius’ first brush with the country that would give birth to Protestant doctrines came in the early 1500s, when he attended school in Germany. At the time he likely had no idea that this movement would gain such momentum. He later moved to Gotland, a Swedish island already famous for its Viking ancestry and impressively-decorated rune-stones. Gustav Vasa, king of Sweden, saw great potential in Laurentius’ new mindset and decided that the most subtle (and most beneficial way) to introduce Lutheranism into Sweden was to make Laurentius Petri archbishop. This was done, but soon the two men began to have a battle of wills as to how the Reformation should progress in their native land.

During this time Laurentius retained some contact with Catholic ideas, and this caused even more friction between him and his monarch. During his lifetime, in 1541, a Swedish Bible emerged. This revolutionized Protestant thought in Sweden just as it had done in Germany and France. Before 1560 there was little conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in Sweden, yet when Petri and other Swedish Protestants began to verbalize disagreements with Calvinist beliefs, it became apparent that they had developed a uniquely Lutheran church.

History records that Laurentius was a more soft-spoken and perhaps more thoughtful man than brother Olaus, though to what degree I do not know. Olaus’ subsequent troubles with the monarchy took him out of the picture and left Laurentius to fend for himself against the throngs, with Gustav Vasa (mostly) in his corner. As Uppsala’s archbishop, Petri had a great amount of influence and was able to mold his domain into more a picture of what he believed it should be. This had an unprecedented effect on Swedish Christianity.

Laurentius Petri died in 1573. By that time the Protestant Reformation has exploded across Europe, had won a startling number of converts, and had been bathed in the blood of persecution. He most likely heard stories of the French St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre that took place just fourteen months before his death. But he had done his part to introduce Reformation thought into Sweden . . . his country would never forget him, and neither should we.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012

What’s In A Name? Part Two

Ever wonder why certain Protestant denominations were given certain names, or what those names mean? How close did they come to being called something else? My post of September 22 discussed what terms various Protestants groups used for themselves (i.e. Huguenots preferred “Reformed”), but today I was interested in learning where the names that would become common originated from.

The word “Anglican” was not used (at least popularly) until the early 1600s. It comes from Middle Latin anglicanus and Anglicus, both of which mean “of the people of England.” “Angle” (Angle-land) is the word from which the word “England” came. It refers to the Angles, a Germanic tribe that occupied the country in the Dark Ages. The word “Anglican” used to describe a person who attended the Church of England was said to originate in the late 1790s. Before this time followers would have likely been called Protestants or simply described as belonging to the Church of England.
The word “Lutheran,” used to describe an adherent to Martin Luther’s Protestant doctrines, was not preferred in Reformation-era Germany but became popular nonetheless. This term comes from the name Luther, which in turn is thought to derive from Lothar (German “Hluodhari”). Hluodhari carries the strong meaning of “famous warrior” and would have been considered a fine name for a German male.
The word “Anabaptist” has an origin that is easy to uncover. Since most “Brethren,” as they preferred to be called, had been baptized as babies, their belief in adult baptism meant that they had to be “rebaptized.” Their enemies called them “Anabaptists,” which came from the Latin anabaptista and anabaptimus and literally meant “second baptism.”
The word “Huguenot” has never been adequately fleshed out. Many believe it comes from Eidgenoss, the Swiss word for “confederate,” a member of the Swiss Confederation). Many Huguenots had fled to Geneva and at one point, due to its association with John Calvin, it was called the “Protestant Rome.”) Others believe it came from the personal names Hughes, as Hughes Besancon was a known leader of religious dissidents. I have heard that the word “Huguenot” was even considered an odd word in France, and no one was exactly sure where it came from and what it had originally meant.

In contrast, “Reformé,” “Reformed,” was much-preferred among French Protestants. The word “Reform” comes from Latin reformare, “reforming,” or literally “to form again.” One interesting etymology site I often use,, says that the term “Reform” as applied to the Huguenots is not thought to have come into use until the 1580s. If this is true, I wonder what the Huguenots called themselves from the 1530s through the 1570s . . .?

Some food for thought!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

Frenchmen in Carolina

In my post of October 21, I mentioned that many American states had at least a small Huguenot population and that North Carolina was one of those unlikely places. I’ve recently been missing those beautiful southern states and wanted to focus on the French Protestants of New Bern and outlying regions. The year was 1709 . . . this was the year many Huguenots and German Palatines sailed to America, as the combination of Old World strife and the welcome of Protestant England’s American colonies made it only natural to do so. 

In 1709, there was no “North” and “South” Carolina. Both colonies were named simply Carolina, and the distinctive boundaries would not come about until later. Huguenots were rushed to the Neuse River region. Some intrepid Frenchmen had arrived years earlier, however, from the lovely colony called Virginia. In 1707 there were Huguenots settling what would become known as New Bern, enjoying the natural resources of the Trent River. Doubtless the French of 1709 must have felt lucky to hear their own language being spoken. One of the North Carolina cities connected with these early settlers is the venerable Beaufort.

Though French Protestants were usually happy to find that they had left behind the chaos of Europe for a work-filled but generally persecution-free life, the settlers of North Carolina, those who lived near modern-day Beaufort, were not so lucky. Tuscarora Indians had not taken kindly to intrusions and decided to rampage against the new settlement, including the homes of the French so recently arrived in America. The Huguenots accustomed to persecution simply due to their Protestant faith were now forced to endure violence simply because of their ethnicity and where they had chosen to live. 

I imagine that to the French, the English government must have very often seemed like saviors in disguise. This much-persecuted church had been ravaged so many times in its own homeland that escape must have often seemed impossible. Beautiful lands like Virginia, “Carolina,” and, further north, New York, were blessings to a hardworking people who only wanted to practice the faith they loved without giving up their basic rights. North Carolina provided freedom to many of these men, women, and children. Its contributions to Huguenot history may not be well-known, but they are exceedingly important.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012

Today a beautiful “Ephesians 2:8” song by Horatius Bonar:

Not What My Hands Have Done

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease the weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can ride me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief of fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

I love the unwitting analogies to the solas of the Reformation . . . Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone. This song talks of “Your voice alone” and “Your power alone” and mentions that nothing we can physically do can necessitate salvation. Horatius Bonar, Scottish-born, wrote this lovely song in 1861.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10, 2012

A Day To Remember

The year was 1483. England was in an uproar due to the disappearance of their young princes Richard and Edward, the elder of whom was the heir to the throne. Spain’s Jewish population was ousted from a land that had long sported a Jewish population, and the Inquisition was in its infancy. Michelangelo stepped back and looked upon the holy beauty of the Sistine Chapel that he had helped to create. Yet none of these grand events touched the simple bedchamber of a woman named Margarethe, who was struggling to deliver another strapping German child. The greater world had no knowledge of her birth-pangs, nor did she know or care of what was happening around her. All she knew was the new baby who came at the just the time God had planned.

His name would be Martin.

Martin Luther would be the first to say that his birth was nothing special. He was a modest man, despite his proud polemics, and he would probably not be amused that his birthday might be celebrated centuries later. Yet the birth of Martin Luther is an important event not only because he was born but because of what his life would set into place. Few had dared to stand up against the moral bankruptcy that dominated Church society in this era. Intimidated by Inquisitorial agents and threats of a burning stake, men were, for the most part, forced to make due with practices they often did not feel comfortable with and a hierarchy they did not trust.

Luther was charismatic. He said “no.” He stood up against indulgences and corruption. He said, “Your day is over. This can’t go on any longer.” And while he himself was not powerful enough to set everything in motion, he suddenly discovered that there were many likeminded men who had been waiting in the wings for a strong-minded reformer. Of course, corruption was not all he opposed. It became clear to Martin Luther that there were certain elements of Scripture that had been ignored, and that tradition had taken the place of the pureness of the Word. He wanted his countrymen to gain more knowledge of living purely and Scripturally without outside influences. This was a concept with which medieval man was sadly unfamiliar.

Today is the 529th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth. On that momentous day, a man was born who would change the Christian world, who would tout the importance of memorizing Scripture and reading the Bible for oneself, who would usher in a community of quiet, unshakable steadfast Protestant believers who even suffered martyrdom yet refused to deny the truths of the Bible and the love of their God. He was without doubt one of the most influential men to emerge from European --- and world --- history. Yet on that day in 1483 his parents understood only two things: A new branch had been grafted onto their family tree, and God was good.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 09, 2012

Martin Luther’s “Black Cloister”

In Wittenberg, Germany there stands a beautiful old cloister with more than its fair share of history. Though this large medieval structure was well-known for religious purposes, that is not where its claim to fame originated . . . instead, it was propelled into the pages of history when reformer Martin Luther and his family took up residence inside its storied walls.

The “Black Cloister,” as it was originally named, was built in the early 1500s and was ceremoniously presented to Luther as a dwelling-place. From the front, the building is indeed very German, long, lean, peppered with windows of various sizes, and accessorized with a distinctive rounded tower in the center. The decorative dormer windows put one in mind of the half-timber houses one might see in German city centers like grand old Munich. A side view of the buildings reveals another rounded tower (one can only imagine what the rooms in that tower must look like, except those who have been fortunate enough to visit for themselves). The top of the structure is dark window-work and is very gothic, lending to the Black Cloister’s historical charm.

Closer inspection of a particular door reveals that it does not carry the same design as the Cloister’s other doors. This door was constructed in 1540 and commissioned by Katharina von Bora Luther, “My Lord Katie,” as Martin Luther affectionately called her. The interior of the Black Cloister is as simple and yet as gothically handsome as the exterior. Various rooms have been decorated to look as they would have looked during the time when Martin Luther cared for his family, housed students, and held colorful sessions of his “Table Talk.”

A particularly beautiful room is the great-room, which showcases Luther’s beautiful old iron stove. This monster of a stove is very 16th century in appearance and gives a good feel for how differently homes were equipped in this era. The painted woodwork and wooden doors evoke not only that long-ago century but Germany in particular, as that nation was already becoming famous for such decoration.

The Black Cloister is not a “shrine” . . . it is not special simply because Martin Luther and his family lived here, but also because of the ideas and dreams that were circulated here. Many Germans had grown tired of the abuses of the medieval Catholic Church but had been conditioned to obey without complaint. When the time came that they could voice their concerns . . . practices in which they did not believe, corrupt hierarchy, whatever their complaints . . . without fear of retribution or even death, they experienced a surge of hope. A time had come when men dared to follow their own consciences and go against the grain.

And this newfound freedom of faith flourished at the Black Cloister.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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