1st Edition

Experiencing Exile Huguenot Refugees in the Dutch Republic, 1680–1700

By David van der Linden Copyright 2015

    The persecution of the Huguenots in France, followed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, unleashed one of the largest migration waves of early modern Europe. Focusing on the fate of French Protestants who fled to the Dutch Republic, Experiencing Exile examines how Huguenot refugees dealt with the complex realities of living as strangers abroad, and how they seized upon religion and stories of their own past to comfort them in exile. The book widens the scope of scholarship on the Huguenot Refuge, by looking beyond the beliefs and fortunes of high-profile refugees, to explore the lives of ’ordinary’ exiles. Studies on Huguenots in the Dutch Republic in particular focus almost exclusively on the intellectual achievements of a small group of figures, including Pierre Bayle and the Basnage brothers, whereas the fate of the many refugees who joined them in exile remains unknown. This book puts the masses of Huguenot refugees back into the history of the Refuge, examining how they experienced leaving France and building a new life in the Dutch Republic. Divided into three sections - ’The Economy of Exile’, ’Faith in Exile’ and ’Memories in Exile’ - the book argues that the Huguenot exile experience was far more complicated than has often been assumed. Scholars have treated Huguenot refugees either as religious heroes, as successful migrants, or as modern philosophers, while ignoring the many challenges that exile presented. As this book demonstrates, Huguenots in the Dutch Republic discovered that being a religious refugee in early modern Europe was above all a complex and profoundly unsettling experience, fraught with socio-economic, religious and political challenges, rather than a clear-cut quest for religious freedom.

    Introduction. Part I The Economy of Exile: Leaving France; Making ends meet. Part II Faith in Exile: The comforts of preaching; Hearing the message; The end of exile. Part III Memories in Exile: Refugee memoirs; Writing the Huguenot past. Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.


    David van der Linden is NWO Rubicon postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on migration patterns, religious conflict and memory practices, in particular in early modern France.

    'This brilliant and long overdue study fills a major gap in our understanding of the Huguenot settlement in the Netherlands as well as of the ways Dutch Huguenot memory gradually took shape following the original migration.' Bertrand Van Ruymbeke, Université Paris 8, France ’Experiencing Exile provides an excellent look into the complexity of the Huguenot experience (p. 2). The author’s work responsibly handles countless sources with the thoroughness that many previous scholars have lacked, and for this, he should be praised. Van der Linden’s brilliant historiographical introduction is a testament to his willingness to reread and re-evaluate traditional sources en route to new interpretations. In well-written prose, van der Linden retells the stories of many relocated Huguenots and incorporates related fields of history into his work such as the history of memory, audience reception, and migration history. Van der Linden should surely be praised for a valuable contribution to Huguenot history and early modern history in general.’ Reviews in History

    "This brilliant and long overdue study fills a major gap in our understanding of the Huguenot settlement in the Netherlands as well as of the ways Dutch Huguenot memory gradually took shape following the original migration." Bertrand Van Ruymbeke, Universitat Paris 8

    "Van der Linden has put forward an exceptional work that highlights the importance and complexity of the exile experience. ... There is a need for more works like Experiencing Exile that treat this traumatic experience seriously before we can even begin to understand accurately the complexity of the phenomena of mass religious migration in the early modern period." Timothy J. Orr, Baylor University, Sixteenth Century Journal

    "Van der Linden has done an impressive job in producing this monograph which ably fills an important gap in our knowledge of the Huguenot experience in the Netherlands." Matthew Glozier, The University of Sydney, BMGN/Low Countries Historical Review

    "This is a wonderfully nuanced portrait of the Huguenot emigration. A deep appreciation of the complexities of the experience pervades the entire enterprise. ... Van der Linden's attentive and perceptive reading of the Refuge contributes immeasurably to our knowledge of a crucial historical development." Raymond A. Mentzer, University of Iowa, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis

    "A subtle and intelligent attempt to capture the experience of exile ... Van der Linden has produced an exquisite peace of scholarship that will speak to a wide range of scholars and will remain relevant to historians of the Refuge and beyond for a long time to come." Marja van der Lugt, Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen, French Studies

    "A compelling and persuasive account of the Huguenot exile experience in the Dutch Republic. ... This is an exemplary work of research and presentation that will be of great use to scholars of early modern religion, exile, and identity." Christine Kooi, Louisiana State University, H-France Review

    "Experiencing Exile is an exemplary study of a seventeenth-century exile community and will be a point of reference for any future exploration in this field." Geert H. Janssen, University of Amsterdam, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

    "Van der Linden ... raise[s] important questions as he seeks both to refute the heroic legend of the Huguenot Refuge and to explain how this stubborn legend was formed in the first place. We can use more such studies of the experience of exile." Barbara B. Diefendorf, Boston University, French History

    "This book is an excellent survey of the key dimensions of the Huguenot experience: survival, legitimisation, memory, and identity." Willem Frijhoff, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Renaissance Quarterly