Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25, 2012

Victims of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Felix la Rue

On my post of August 15th I mentioned Felix La Rue or Le Roux, a victim of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Being intrigued by this man’s life, as he popped out at me as someone in danger of being forgotten, I decided to study further. Felix La Rue (or Le Roux) had an exciting start in life. As the rumored grandson of King Francis I of France through a clandestine relationship with a Mademoiselle de la Rieux, he must have undergone some interesting adventures. He was born around the year 1521, and it is uncertain when he converted to Protestantism, which first became popular in France in the 1530s. Felix was thirty-five when a failed Huguenot colony in Brazil was overrun by Portuguese mariners. He was forty-one when explorer Jean Ribault first claimed “La Floride” for France. Did he long to embark on these voyages? Did he ever wonder what life in the New World would be like?

I also like to imagine physical appearances. Though there is no way to know, I have noticed that many Frenchmen featured in portraits from this time period had a typical “French look,” with the same kind of nose structure and dark hair. Blue and brown eyes are both seen, though I imagine brown would be more common. It is very likely Felix had this sort of a look. I do love to speculate over such things. It helps put a face and an identity to an otherwise nameless victim.

Felix’s children are unknown, save for one son named Justin. Family lore says Justin was a child during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre and that he escaped by being spirited away to Germany. Other sources say he was born in 1545, thus in 1572 he would have been twenty-seven and hardly a child. Felix’s fate is marked out clearly. He died on August 24, 1572, during the St. Bartholomew’s. He was about fifty-one years of age. His brother Louis became Catholic, and another brother, Bertolet, remained Protestant and escaped.

As Huguenots were forbidden to inherit land or retain titles, brother Louis became the head of la famille de la Rue. There was apparently a de la Rue chateau in or near Orleans, France, though I am uncertain if it still exists. It seems that “La Rue,” “Le Roux,” “Leroux,” and “de la Rieux” are all common spellings of this surname. Long story short, Felix La Rue died a martyr. I do not know the exact circumstances; I do not know if he fought or if he was taken in his bedroom without the slightest chance to defend himself, but it does not matter. He fell for his faith. In his enemies’ eyes, he warranted such treatment simply for believing as he did.

Rest in peace, Monsieur. Today your name is spoken once again.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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