L'Antarctique: A French Protestant South Africa

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Sevarics, Mar 1, 2018.

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  1. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    I've finally decided to give my old TL idea a go and write about the Huguenots settling in South Africa in the 1500s. I know, I know, I'm absolutely horrible at continuously pumping out updates for my timelines... but this one has been bugging me for a while and I want to at least attempt it. The first update will come out on either Saturday or Sunday but I wanted to make this first post so that people would know that it is coming.
     
  2. Threadmarks: I: Settlement at the Cape

    Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    I: Settlement at the Cape

    The reign of Henry II was a tumultuous time for France’s Protestant community. Known as the Huguenots, these French Calvinists were heavily persecuted, with Henry II having ministers burnt at the stake or having their tongues cut off. Nevertheless, the community continued to grow, even in the face of the Edict of Châteaubriant, which placed numerous restrictions and punishments on the Huguenot community, including loss of property.

    As a result, in the 1550s, Gaspard de Coligny was looking for a place for members of his Huguenot faith to settle [1]. In 1554, his friend, Vice-Admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon had left France to explore the Brazilian coastline, as he was interested in Brasilwood. However, his ships were blown off course and Villegagnon reached the Cape of Good Hope, whereupon one of his ships crashed [2]. As a result of his misadventure, Villegagnon began to think of the possibilities of France dominating the East Indies trade routes. While the New World intrigued Coligny, ultimately after speaking with Villegagnon, Coligny decided that settling in southern Africa would offer more possibilities, such as placing Huguenots farther away from the persecution of continental France, while also enabling France to play a greater role in the spice trade and provide wealth for the French Huguenot community. Thus, in 1554, Coligny recruited several other Huguenot backers to fund his friend, the French soldier and explorer Vice-Admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon to establish a fort and preliminary settlement at the site of the Cape of Good Hope.

    Villegagnon departed from France with in 1555 in command of a fleet of five ships, containing 800 soldiers and Huguenot colonists, as well as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and chickens, and a variety of crops and fruiting trees. Upon arriving at the Cape of Good Hope, Villegagnon had two forts constructed, the first on Île aux Phoques named Fort Henri for the King and the second on the mainland named Fort Coligny after the colony’s benefactor, Gaspard de Coligny. Alongside Fort Coligny, the colonists founded Le Cap and began the process of establishing farms nearby.

    As the Huguenot colonists spread out from their initial landing spot, they came into contact with the Khoi people and initially began to hire them as laborers on the farms that they were establishing, paying them with trinkets for their efforts raising homesteads and tilling fields. Additionally, as the Khoi began to learn French, they taught the settlers how to hunt native game in the area surrounding Le Cap. While the initial meetings between the French and Khoi were amicable and the Khoi were willing to work, eventually tensions did begin to rise between the two groups. Yet, the primary source of tensions in the budding colony was between the Huguenot colonists and the Catholics that had joined them.

    The initial 800 colonists and soldiers had consisted of 638 Huguenot colonists, 60 Huguenot soldiers, 59 Catholic colonists, and, 43 soldiers. The Catholic numbers included Villegagnon and his nephew, Legendre de Boissy, Seigneur de Bois-le-Comte, who were in charge of the settlement at the behest of Coligny. As the feuding between the Catholic and Huguenot settlers became more numerous, Villegagnon and de Boissy attempted to settle the religious tension by having Huguenot ministers explain themselves and their faith before a meeting of all the colonists and settlers. Thus, they wrote a letter back to Coligny and John Calvin, asking for ministers to come to the fledgling settlement at the tip of Africa. Unfortunately, shortly after writing the letter, Villegagnon passed away and his nephew, the Seigneur de Bois-le-Comte took temporary command of the fledgling colony and informed Coligny of this in his letter.

    Two years from the founding of Le Cap, their answers were met by the arrival of four additional ships carrying 400 new Huguenot settlers and 12 Huguenot ministers, as well as 200 copies of the Holy Bible written in French, under the command of Coligny’s youngest brother, François de Coligny d’Andelot, a staunch Huguenot convert [3]. While heavily outnumbered by the Huguenots, de Boissy was determined to hear them out, nonetheless. Thus, he called forward all of the settlers, both Catholic and Huguenot, to an assembly where the 12 ministers and François d’Andelot would explain their faith and make their case for Protestantism. While de Boissy had his initial apprehensions, ultimately he was swayed by d’Andelot and the 12 ministers and converted to the Huguenot faith, which had the effect of convincing the remaining Catholic colonists and soldiers to convert as well. As a result, by the end of 1557, all 1226 of the settlers at Le Cap belonged to the Huguenot faith.

    [1] OTL Coligny converted after the first voyage to France Antarctique but before the second voyage. Here he has converted earlier due to an earlier conversion by his brother François de Coligny d'Andelot.
    [2] Villegagnon's original voyage to explore Brazil was blown off course and he ended up exploring Southern Africa instead.
    [3] D'Andelot's staunch Huguenot faith ultimately caused him to run afoul of Henry II, who refused to protect him in the face of the Edict of Châteaubriand and stripped him of his command. Thus, Coligny recruited his brother to head to Le Cap and govern upon finding out about Villegagnon's death.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  3. PoorBoy Laborus Tardis

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    Interesting premise.

    Got confused with the title though...French Antarctica (Greek for 'against the Arctic' or 'against the bear'). 'Australia' (Southlands) is probably the term you're looking for.
     
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  4. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    The first Huguenot settlement in the New World was in Brazil and called Antarctica. It was a French thing at the time for basically any far south territory to be called Antarctica.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_Antarctique

    The premise of this TL is that the site for Antarctica is chosen in South Africa rather than in Portuguese claimed Brazil.
     
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  5. Cornelis Well-Known Member

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    I wold like to see what this "South Sea Refuge" could become, but there are several issues with this post.

    The France Antarctique was never Coligny's brainchild, but Villegaignon's. Having fellow Normans contacts on the coast of Brazil, Villegaignon visited the area in 1554. He managed to convince the all-powerful mistress of the King, Diane de Poitiers, to create a French colony in the New World. As with every other first-generation French explorers, mainly other Normans, such as another of his funders, the trader Ango, his interest was only in America. It was the King who put Coligny in the loop, as Coligny - still Catholic at the time - was his principal adviser. If there were Protestants members in the first wave of colonists, they were very few and without clergy.

    The religious dimension of the colony came in a second time, both for Villegaignon's "middle ground" idea and for the "refuge" idea of the (protestant) commander of the second expedition, Corguilleray. The tensions arose quickly between the two men. Even if he may had wanted to create a peaceful settlement far from the religious struggles of France, Villegaignon did not want to break with Rome and he had several issues with Calvin's eucharistical theology. Having him converted after a controversy with d'Andelot, who, by all accounts, was more of a warrior than a scholar, is out of character. OTL Villegaignon directly write with Calvin and challenged him to public theology controversy. Not the kind of man a lively speech about salvation could turn from his religious vows.

    Speaking of d'Andelot, he had more pressing matters on his hands in 1557 than becoming the second in command of a tiny colony on the other side of the world. He is Colonel General of Infantry, one of the highest ranking officiers in the French Army, at the time of war with the Habsburg. For reasons of political and familial fidelity, he could certainly not leave France at the time (OTL at the time, he leaded near-suicidal assaults hoping to relieve his brother, then under siege in Saint-Quentin). And even if France was at peace, the presence of one of the highest ranking families of France in a Colony would be a noticeable peculiarity. Neiter France nor the others colonial powers did send high-ranking noblemen as colonial officials at the time.

    In the end, I would recommand to alter the PoD in several ways :
    - Villegaignon aimed for Brazil in 1554 and ended up in South Africa. Back in France, he pushed for an African colony.
    - d'Andelot is utterly disgraced in 1556 for something truly important, like breaking a family link. He is stripped of every office and cannot even find employ in a foreign court.
    - Villegaignon is removed from Antarctique, either by death or by d'Andelot's arrival, who can then proceed to make the colony a Protestant Heaven on Earth.
     
  6. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    Honestly, the sources I've found on France Antarctique went both ways on whether Coligny recruited Villegagnon or whether Villegagnon had had the idea without him. Either way they were friends and had a history of working together. I am going to tweak the POD to the following:

    -Earlier conversion of Coligny by a few years, which requires an earlier conversion of d'Andelot by a few years since d'Andelot is the one who converted both of his brothers to the Huguenot faith (this was an unmentioned POD but now I am going to mention it in an edit). So Coligny is actively looking for a Protestant haven at this time, while not being open about his faith with the King. So, Coligny will directly fund the settlement along with a few others.
    -Villegagnon's initial visit to Brazil was blown off course and he ended up exploring South Africa. He still wanted to consider Brazil but Coligny, as the benefactor of this alt-colony settles on Le Cap instead of being right next to Brazil.
    -d'Andelot's faith gets him stripped of command per Henry's Edict of Chateaubriand and that's how he ends up in Le Cap
    -Villegagnon dies before d'Andelot reaches Le Cap, but his nephew survives and converts
     
  7. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    These changes have been made to the original post.
     
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  8. zeppelinair これ以上の詳細は略する

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    I know this just started but will we be seeing maps of the TTL as the TL goes along?
     
  9. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    For sure. At the moment it’s just the immediate Cape Town area though so no need for a map.
     
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  10. twovultures Best leagues are NFL, FIFA, and Shmalkaldic

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    Très intéressant!

    I wonder how religious tensions will effect attempts to convert the Khoi (and the San and blacks, eventually). The struggle for power might be for the souls of Africans between the dueling Christian faiths.
     
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  11. ETGalaxy Long live the King of America!

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    This isn't a time period I have much knowledge on at all, but I still find this to be a cool idea and will be sure to continue reading it. One suggestion I have is that once more settlers arrive the new Catholic colonists travel to somewhere else in South Africa and either establish a colony separate from Antarctica or create a Boer-like nation.
     
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  12. Threadmarks: II: Early Growth

    Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    II: Early Growth

    As the fledgling colony at Le Cap prospered in its first few years, the Huguenot colonists began to expand further out, establishing farms and homesteads, the native Khoi began to resist the French settlers. Violent conflicts began to occur with increasing frequency, culminating in a raid by one Khoi who called himself Jacques Jacques that resulted in the destruction of 30 homesteads before it was countered by forces commanded by François de Coligny d’Andelot. The loss of property, in addition to 84 French deaths, resulted in d’Andelot issuing his December proclamation expelling all Khoi from Le Cap. Further, d’Andelot pursued Jacques Jacques and his group of Khoi, burning down villages and capturing cattle in an effort to prevent any future raids by the Khoi. Consequently, by the time d’Andelot had captured and executed Jacques Jacques, 2,837 Khoi had been put to death and numerous Khoi settlements had been left in smoldering ruins.

    For his efforts in dealing with Jacques Jacques and in capturing over 40,000 Nguni cattle, d’Andelot was lauded throughout Le Cap. Building upon this success, d’Andelot founded the second town in the budding colony in 1561, naming it Andelot after his former seigneurie in France [1]. On this site, he built a large country estate, locating many of the captured cattle he had won in his war with the Khoi and establishing Le Cap’s first vineyard. Determined to forestall any dependence on native African labor after the Khoi revolt, d’Andelot issued large tracts of land in d’Andelot as seigneuries to other leading colonial noblemen who had participated in putting down the Khoi revolt, namely Legendre de Boissy, Philippe de Corguilleray, and, Nicolas Barré. These men were entrusted with their seigneuries on the premise that they would each fund the transportation of 40 new Protestant families from France to Le Cap each year for the next five years.

    As the persecutions in France continued against the Huguenots and Waldensians, the promise of free transportation attracted many eager Protestant families seeking to relocate to what appeared to be a nascent Huguenot Eden in southern Africa. De Boissy, de Corguilleray, Barré, d’Andelot, and the six other seigneurs in Andelot secured the first year’s 400 families within six months of the offer spreading by word of mouth from Huguenot church to Huguenot church. Entire congregations wished to be sponsored, and, when each year’s sponsorships filled up, they pooled their resources to send the families that they could each year. Ultimately, the initial offer and description of a verdant land at the Cape of Good Hope set off a powder keg in France’s Protestant community. The word of Le Cap was not limited to France and soon persecuted Protestant communities in Switzerland, Germany, the Low Countries, and, Bohemia were actively talking about the colony with some congregations in these countries actively pooling their tithes to fund their transportation.

    With more families arriving in Le Cap over the next several years, d’Andelot entrusted Nicolas Barré with founding a settlement to the north of Le Cap to serve as a way station for ships needing to resupply. An avid navigator, Barré scoped the African coastline looking for the perfect harbor. In 1563, Barré founded the settlement of Villegagnon, after Le Cap’s first Governor at the site of a deep sea harbor far to the north of Le Cap [2]. Villegagnon proved to be a useful port both for fishing and for whaling, leading to many of Le Cap’s fishermen to spend at least part of the year operating out of Villegagnon. Yet, as a fishing town and resupply station, Villegagnon quickly gained a reputation as more unruly than Le Cap; a reputation that was only furthered by the first Huguenot church not being built until four years after its founding.

    [1] Andelot is located on the Coligny River (Eerste River in OTL) at the site of OTL’s Stellenbosch.
    [2] Villegagnon is located at the site of OTL’s Walvis Bay in Namibia.
     
  13. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    The religious struggle will come back soon enough to L’Antarctique. After all, the Wars of Religion are about to begin in France.
     
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  14. Ivoshafen Just A Man From Gondor - Recovering from SATS

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    The name alone has me, please, I am excited to see how this goes.
     
  15. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    Thanks. I have some big plans for it. It won’t be the happiest of timelines but it will definitely be an interesting one.
     
  16. Ivoshafen Just A Man From Gondor - Recovering from SATS

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    I wouldn't expect it to be happy, thankfully I like being sad.
     
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  17. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    Well then you won’t be disappointed. I’m just happy people are interested in my “Pin the Huguenots on a country” timeline
     
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  18. Ivoshafen Just A Man From Gondor - Recovering from SATS

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    Honestly, I just love the idea of any nation named Antarctica, so you hooked me with that.
     
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  19. Unknown Member

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    A Huguenot "Draka" TL? Interesting, methinks...
     
  20. Sevarics Beto for Texas

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    I’ve actually never read the Draka books
     
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