The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes

In the revolutions of our volatile motherland, the same borders have oftentimes been
the witness of migration. Oftentimes the Ardennes Forest, the Gorges of the Cerdon
between Lyon and Geneva, our seaboards, solitary coves of which are known only to
smugglers have seen fugitives under countless disguises seek safety in exile. Yet not all
outcasts are the same. The Protestants could stay; no effort was spared to make them; one
word from them and property, homeland were theirs to keep, the worst dangers held at bay.
The 1793 émigré wanted to save his life; the 1685 one wanted to save his conscience
The flight of the Huguenots was a deliberate act of loyalty and sincerity. It was horror
of falsehood. It was respect for thought. It is glorious for human nature that so great a
number of men and women should, for truth’s sake, have sacrificed everything ; passed from
riches to poverty; risked life, family, and all, in the perilous enterprise of a flight so difficult.
Some see in these people only obstinate sectarians: I see in them people of lofty ideas of
honour who, over all the earth have proved themselves to have been the elite of France. The
stoical motto which free-thinkers have popularised is precisely the idea which lies at the root
of the Protestant emigration, braving death and the galleys to remain noble and true: Vitam
impendere vero; Life sacrificed for the truth.”
That is why these roads of escape, these gorges, these forests, these mountains, these
boarding spots are sacred in their memory. So many tears! It was rare to leave together. A
family would separate to migrate to different destinations, or because it was impossible for
the sick, the sickly, pregnant women with young children to escape. Mostly, people parted to
face vastly diverse fates, This one perished, that one was caught, locked up, lost forever.
They would never see each other again on this earth.