Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Huguenots and the Second Amendment

Excellent history article.

What I learned from yesterday’s Ask Me Anything was that overwhelmingly, Ricochet wants to know more about the history of the Huguenots and their relationship to the Second Amendment. (Or, at least, Tenacious D does.)

When Ben Carson suggested that an armed populace would have been better able to resist the Holocaust, he walked off the history cliff for two reasons. The first was his failure to appreciate what it took to defeat a modern engine of death like the Nazi war machine — one that rolled over armies comprised of millions of trained soldiers with guns, planes, tanks, and artillery in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and often did so in a matter of days.

He also missed a chance to explain to Wolf that in all likelihood, the Founders were thinking about the extermination of a European religious minority. But that minority wasn’t the Jews — it was the Huguenots.

What he should have said was, “Wolf, as you should know, if the Huguenots had been armed, their chances would have been a lot better. It all started with the Catholics taking away their weapons. Every American in the eighteenth century would have known that.”

And they would have.

Now, historians differ about the number of dead in the French wars of religion and even its exact dates. But they now estimate that between 1562 and 1598, the war claimed between two and four million lives, and could well be described, in modern vocabulary, as a Huguenot genocide.

We all know the background. The Reformation was spread by the invention of the printing press. For the first time, there was an inexpensive way to mass-produce and disseminate books. This fueled a wildcat spread of information — in all disciplines — across Europe’s borders. (Those familiar with this period know exactly why I wonder if we should just bomb the undersea cables before this Internet business gets out of hand.)

Francis I firmly opposed heresy, of course, given that he ruled by divine right, but he was genuinely unsure whether the early Lutheranism that arrived in France during his reign was heretical. (Catholic doctrine was as yet unclear.) Distracted, perhaps, by foreign affairs — he was building an alliance with the Ottoman Empire — he failed to see that of course this was heresy, and moreover, a revolutionary doctrine. As the schism developed, he attempted to steer a middle course. But in 1534, the Affaire des Placards woke him from his naive fantasy about “moderate Protestants.”

Overnight, posters appeared in public throughout France warning of “Genuine articles on the horrific, great and unbearable abuses of the papal mass, invented directly contrary to the Holy Supper of our Lord, sole mediator and sole savior Jesus Christ.” These directly attacked the Catholic conception of the Eucharist and supported Zwingli’s position on the Mass, denying the physical existence of Christ in the sacraments. Most terrifyingly, he awoke to find such a poster on the door of his bedchamber — an unthinkable security breach. It left him deeply shaken.

More Here

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