Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Rebel Country

The Cévennes are rather like the Appalachians. It might be Scotland, but grander and warmer, with purple heather and pine. Old mountains, worn down into gentle, rolling woodland, the landscape stretching grey and blue to the horizon. Tiny villages with dwellings clustered around either a church or a simple Huguenot Temple. This is the land of the Rebellion where for a hundred years  Protestant Camisard guerillas fought the armies of King Louis for the right to worship freely in much the same way as Wallace harried Longshanks' troops. "Braveheart" could have been filmed here.

During the rebellion, the austere theology of Jean Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon shaped understanding and family Bibles were read illegally while the women watched the windows for approach of the King's troops. Meetings were held out of doors or in specially camouflaged dwellings - a mobile pulpit could in seconds be transformed to look like a small grain silo. This temple was erected after the Revolution when freedom of worship was finally transformed into reality. Many are still in use, while Catholic churches have fallen into disrepair.

This is a disused mill. Brits are buying up these old places, and the old crafts like silk-weaving are dying out. Shame.

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