Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots' New World, 1517-1751

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JHU Press, Mar 3, 2020 - History - 1088 pages

French Huguenots made enormous contributions to the life and culture of colonial New York during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Huguenot craftsmen were the city's most successful artisans, turning out unrivaled works of furniture which were distinguished by unique designs and arcane details. More than just decorative flourishes, however, the visual language employed by Huguenot artisans reflected a distinct belief system shaped during the religious wars of sixteenth-century France.

In Fortress of the Soul, historian Neil Kamil traces the Huguenots' journey to New York from the Aunis-Saintonge region of southwestern France. There, in the sixteenth century, artisans had created a subterranean culture of clandestine workshops and meeting places inspired by the teachings of Bernard Palissy, a potter, alchemist, and philosopher who rejected the communal, militaristic ideology of the Huguenot majority which was centered in the walled city of La Rochelle. Palissy and his followers instead embraced a more fluid, portable, and discrete religious identity that encouraged members to practice their beliefs in secret while living safely‚€”even prospering‚€”as artisans in hostile communities. And when these artisans first fled France for England and Holland, then left Europe for America, they carried with them both their skills and their doctrine of artisanal security.

Drawing on significant archival research and fresh interpretations of Huguenot material culture, Kamil offers an exhaustive and sophisticated study of the complex worldview of the Huguenot community. From the function of sacred violence and alchemy in the visual language of Huguenot artisans, to the impact among Protestants everywhere of the destruction of La Rochelle in 1628, to the ways in which New York's Huguenots interacted with each other and with other communities of religious dissenters and refugees, Fortress of the Soul brilliantly places American colonial history and material life firmly within the larger context of the early modern Atlantic world.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
PART I The Art of the Earth
13
The Entrance of Charles IX into La Rochelle in 1565
15
The Construction of Artisanal Security
52
Philibert Hamelins Consideration of Straight Lines and the Rehabilitation of the Nicodemite as Huguenot Artisan of Security
100
The Context of Artisanal Enthusiasm in AunisSaintonge
125
Rustic Artisans and the Diffusion of Paracelsian Discourses to New Worlds
171
Bernard Palissy John Winthrop the Younger and Benjamin Franklin
242
Science Secrecy and Security at the Siege of La Rochelle 16271635
409
Relocation of Spatial Identity to the New World 16281787
461
The Commons Debates of 1628
508
The Huguenot Counterfeit and the Threat to Englands Internal Security
544
Hogarths Hog Lane and the Huguenot Fortress of Memory
562
PART III The Secrets of the Craft
709
Disappearance and Material Life in Colonial New York
711
Little Histories Avignon France 16011602 Flushing Long Island 16571726
767

War Separation the Sound and the Materiality of Time
277
EIGHT The Art of the Earth
316
PART II The Fragmentation of the Body
387
NINE In Patientia Sauvitas or The Invisible Fortress Departs
389
Sundials Family Pieces and Political Culture in PreRevolutionary New York
906
Notes
925
Index
1033
Copyright

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About the author (2020)

Neil Kamil is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

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