Antoine Simon:
In Search of Religious Freedom


References and Links






  The Escape from France - Part II

Antoine Simon and his family, like the Chapelle family, chose to leave their home rather than become Catholic after the Edit of Nantes was abolished in 1685.  Antoine was registered in St. Gallen, Switzerland, on 25 May 1688.   This refugee family was in Neuchatel, Switzerland on 26 March, 1692.  Antoine's father was also named Antoine, and he had fled earlier, documented to have been in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in June 1687, at the age of 80.  The younger Antoine's siblings followed a similar path.

Meanwhile, a Waldensian clergy, Henry Arnaud, organized a commando force in Switzerland.  In August 1688, the force began their return to their homeland, known as the "Glorious Return."  Their objective was to force Louis XIV to reinstate the Edit of Nantes so they could practice their religion.  The troop ultimately lost most of its force in the difficult journey.  Despite being hungry and cold, the commandos won some battles.  But in May 1689, with  the remaining 300 Waldensian troops trapped on a mountain peak by a sizeable French force with cannons, the end seemed near.  However, due to a storm and its cloud cover, the battle was delayed.  At night, the Waldensians, with some members familiar with the local terrain, were able to sneak out of the predicament using treacherous mountain trails.  By March 1690, the Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II, severed his alliance with France and joined with England and Austria.  The Duke needed the support of the Waldensians to protect mountain areas of his border with France.  The Duke also sent out invitations to his Protestant subjects who had fled, as well as any French Protestant refugees, to come to his country. 

The Simon family accepted this invitation, and moved back from Switzerland to the Piedmont region.  Their hope was to return to their own neighboring valley.  However, this was not to happen.  The French troops were superior to those of the enemy in training and leadership, and thus able to dominate in the war on land.  As the war was appearing to wind down, Louis XIV also wanted to establish better ties with Victor Amadeus II.  His 14-year-old grandson was married to one of the Duke of Savoy's daughters.  In August 1696, the two leaders formed an alliance.  France gave some land back to Savoy and in return, the duke committed himself to no longer admit any Huguenots to his country.  There is believed to have been additional secret agreements for removing the French deserters (as viewed by Louis XIV) from Savoy.   As the word of these agreements spread, families began to emigrate from the country.  In 1697, peace was established with other members of the enemy alliance (Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain), and French refugees were allowed to return to France if and only if they became Catholic and promised not to leave again.  Only about 5% of the refugees took this offer.

On 1 July 1698, the Duke of Savoy announced the expulsion of all French-born Protestants from his country, with time limits set for the expelled families to sell any of their property.  It was on this date that the Simon family was registered in Pinerolo, Italy (then under the control of the Savoys).  They left shortly thereafter, arriving in Yverdon by 19 September 1698, to Ötelfingen by 9 October 1698, and then to Zurich.  Antoine, his wife, and three children spent the winter in Switzerland, which was reported to have been particularly cold.  In the spring of 1699, they were forced out of Switzerland due to years of poor harvest, pressure from France and Catholic towns, and pressure from the trade guilds trying to protect their jobs. 

Possible route taken by the Simon family


The family then traveled through Basel to their final destination near Dürrmenz, Germany, at that time within the country of Württemberg.  Antoine was married twice, first to Marie, born about 1665, and then later to Jeanne Latelle in Dürrmenz.  Among the three children immigrating to Germany, was Madelaine, born about 1697.   It is this daughter who later marries Salomon Chapelle in Dürrmenz, connecting the two families.   



Continue to "The Dürrmenz Settlement" Page...


(1)  Bellon, Eugen.  Vertrieben, verweht, verwurzelt : die französisch-reformierten Einwanderer in Dürrmenz, 1699-1735.  (Sickte : Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, 1987), 149.  Family History Library international book, no film copy.

(2)  Bellon, Eugen. Zerstreut in alle Winde [Scattered to all the Winds], 1685-1720. Trans. by Erika Gautschi. (West Lafayette, Indiana: Belle Publications, 1983). This is an English translation of historical papers originally published by the German Huguenot Society. Describes the Dauphine French Huguenots’ migration into Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. 245 pages. Family History Library, microfiche, FHL INTL Fiche 6068505, Salt Lake City.


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