Of the Walloon Church in The Netherlands

Rise of Protestantism

A troubled past

The 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were a time of transition, political and religious shifts, wars and crisis.

The teachings of Martin LutherGerman Protestant theologian and reformer and John CalvinFrench-Swiss Protestant theologian and reformer sparked religious reform in the 16th century. More and more people, including influential nobles and artisans, turned against the Catholic customs and power of the state and church. Since church and state were inextricably linked, this also meant an aversion to the existing order and power.

Church of refugees

Until the early 19th century, more than a million French-speaking Protestants fled from France (the Huguenots) and the southern NetherlandsParts of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands (the Walloons) to the predominantly Protestant Netherlands, which managed to free itself from the Spaniards after a bloody battle during the Eighty Years’ War.

French-speaking Protestants sought each other out and formed a new French-speaking church that was incorporated into the Dutch Reformed system as the Walloon Church. In The Hague, permission was granted to use the Hofkapel at the Binnenhof where, due to the arrival of Louise de ColignyWidow of William of Orange, many prominent residents of The Hague and the court attended the church services.

Religious freedom

At its peak, there were 43 Walloon Churches in the Netherlands. The Huguenots brought with them their wealth, knowledge and skills, not to mention the French language.

After the French Revolution, Napoleon separated state and church and Protestants were given religious freedom. The number of members of the Walloon Church slowly declined from then on. Many returned to France or had by now become established and part of Dutch society. Today, 12 active Walloon Churches remain in the Netherlands and French is still the primary language.