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.