Exile leaves its enduring stamp on the societies among whom refugees passed or settled : the tangible and symbolic trace left by surnames marks out some communities. A very broad range of media are needed to offer as comprehensive an insight as possible into the phenomenon of representations passed down the generations. Legal transactions, history books, school textbooks and memoirs immediately spring to the researcher's mind but they do not suffice for they frequently fail to address some aspects of the situation. As a result of the efforts undertaken to break free from the fixed context in which they write, historians are aware of the complexity of the undertaking... precisely because part of their material consists in the works of their forerunners. Collective memory cannot however be confined to written data alone. While it is indeed necessary to recapture the more generally held representations the elites have imparted to the populace, the same goes for the elements passed on by these populations.
The task is challenging, precisely because the human make-up does not work on a single mechanical pattern. In expulsion situations, the time-old fear felt by a group towards the other pervades the four case studies. Most of the time, it revolves around two stock phrases :
« religious fanaticism » (as imputed to Muslim Moriscos or Irish Catholics by those who force them out, for instance) and collusion with a foreign entity (be it “the French”, the German” or “the Turk”). When in host situations, unease is also patently felt (by the Genevans towards the Huguenot or the Egyptians towards the Shawams). Typically, given that no given community would naturally seek to give a bad account of itself, the persecutor-persecuted representations have been aired more freely than the
« cumbersome guest-uneasy host » narratives.
Broadly speaking, since the 16th century, the Protestants have contributed to the dissemination of the history of violence inflicted on religious minorities by Catholic states. They have collated the Martyrologies of their coreligionists, the best known of which are Jean Crespin's Protestant Martyrology Le Livre des martyrs, published in Geneva in 1554 and Englishman John Foxe's 1565 Book of Martyrs. Protestant historians took an early interest in the Spanish Inquisition. The American Quaker Henry Charles Lea published in New York in 1906-1907 a sturdy History of the Spanish Inquisition in four volumes. Yet it is a Catholic priest, Juan Antonio Llorente, a former inquisitor and an Afrancesado, who had a Histoire critique de l'inquisition espagnole (A Critical History of the Spanish Inquisition) published in Paris as early as 1817-1818. Via electronic media, the conclusions of these works now enjoy a fairly broad dissemination ; they are taken up in other pieces of research, frequently written to a polemical end, in order to denounce the Muslim here, the Jews there, elsewhere the Protestants or the Catholics. The following chapters open perspectives that will help arrive at a picture free of any partisanship.