I have just finished reading a book by Tracy Chevalier, author of the Girl with a Pearl Earring. This book is called The Virgin Blue and is set in France, it is the story of Ella Turner or Tournier who moves to France with her husband's work and during her time there begins to research her Tounier ancestors who turn out to be Huguenots who fled their homeland after the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of August 1572 which began after the wedding ceremony of the Catholic King's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre. The massacre began in Paris but spread to other areas of France, it is estimated that about 30,000 Protestants were murdered at this time because of their beliefs and many decided to flee to Geneva in Switzerland or eventually to one of the safe cities like La Rochelle.
|St. Bartholomew Day massacre|
As I mentioned in a previous blog of June 2018, some of Leen Arie's ancestors were Huguenots who lived in the 17th century in La Rochelle and were refugees to Holland in 1684 after it became impossible for them to remain Protestant in an intolerant country.
Leen Arie's 8th great grandfather Louis De La Coste was 10 years old when he and his family fled to Holland, later he became a well respected Minister of religion in Dordrecht and in 1717 he decided to write a short history of his family and were they all ended up living after their evacuation from France.
At the beginning of his history he mentions that he often heard his father say that their ancestors were originally from Provence in the South of France and that because of persecution for their beliefs they were forced to flee and ended up in the city of La Rochelle. He then goes on to record that his great grandparents Michel De La Coste and Marie Papin were witnesses at the marriage of their son Jean in 1624 and that Michel was a merchant and burger of La Rochelle.
It is very probable that Michel or his parents fled Provence in the late 1570's after the St. Bartholomew Day massacre.
Last year we visited La Rochelle and the Isle de Re and this year we are planning on spending our holiday in Provence. Whilst studying the map of the area around Aix au Provence I discovered a small town called La Coste, situated in the Luberon area of Provence. Could this be were Leen Arie's ancestors originally came from? The prefix 'De' in French means 'of' so the name means Michel 'of' La Coste. Interestingly I have read on internet that alot of Huguenots lived in the Luberon area and the coat of arms of the town of La Coste has a Huguenot cross on it. We will definitely be paying a visit to this place and I will keep you informed.
|Coat of Arms of La Coste Provence|
|La Coste Provence|