The birth of Protestantism in the Mellois area

Take time for a break to understand how Protestantism spread widely and became established in the long term in the Mellois area, starting from the 16th century. This is also an opportunity to revisit the origin of this religious reform movement.

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    gravure portrait de Jean calvin
    Portrait de Jean Calvin, (c) Gallica BNF
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    potrait de Martin Luther par Cranach l'ancien
    Portrait de Martin luther par Cranach l'ancien, MET New york
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    Marguerite de Valois par François Clouet
    Portrait de Marguerite de Valois par François Clouet, (c)Gallica BNF
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    Portrait de Martin Luther en moine
    Portrait de Luther en moine augustin par Cranach l'ancien, MET new York
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    portrait de Marguerite de Navarre
    Portrait de Marguerite de Navarre par Jean Clouet, Walker art Gallery Liverpool

La Mothe-Saint-Héray was one of the important centres of Protestantism in the Mellois area.

It was in 1517 that Martin Luther, a German Augustin monk, lay the foundations of this religious reform in response to a Catholic clergy that was considered materialistic and corrupt. It was not long before some major figures, such as Margaret of Angoulême, the queen of Navarre, were drawn to this new approach to faith.

In 1534, John Calvin, pursued for his reforming ideas, sought refuge in Angoulême and crossed the Poitou region. His thoughts and speeches were met by a positive response, particularly among the scholars and lords of the Mellois area.

The Reformation reached all members of society, with merchants and artisans making their contribution to its spread. Travelling salespeople sold the Bible in the villages. In addition to this, the textile workers of La Mothe-Saint-Héray crafted high-quality woollen fabrics that were exported to Germany, where Protestantism was already well established. These acts therefore helped to spread the Reformation throughout the Mellois area.

Other stages