English, Department of



Margaret Wolfit

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 17 (1986)


Published by The George Eliot Review Online https://GeorgeEliotReview.org


'The Quiet Conquest' is the title of the Huguenot exhibition celebrating Huguenot Heritage Year - 300 years since the revoking of the Edict of Nantes - currently showing at the London Museum.

The origins and earliest application of the term Huguenot, we are told, have always been and remain somewhat obscure. The word may derive from 'Eidgenoss', meaning confederal, a word used in Geneva where John Calvin and many Huguenots settled. Other explanations for the word belong to the world of myths - a 16th century Catholic apologist, for example, apparently suggested that John Calvin nightly summoned a devil named Nox to his side, using the words 'Hucnox' and that their son 'Hucnox' was the sire of the Huguenot.

In people's mind John Calvin became the leading figure of the Protestant world. His theology was distinguished by the doctrine of predestination which said that 11 God hath once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction". It was a particularly gloomy form of Protestantism.

The Church in Geneva was governed by a consistory made up of six ministers and twelve laymen. Its business was to enforce a discipline of life so that God would be worshiped through the citizens' dress and social customs. The Geneva Church dictated the character of the Huguenots' congregations in France and later in those countries that welcomed them as refugees at the time of the persecution.