The English Refugees at Geneva, 1555-1559

N.M. Sutherland describes how some two hundred English exiles found refuge in Protestant Geneva during the reign of Mary Tudor.

Themarian exiles were Protestants who had burgeoned in the reign of Edward VI and then withdrew to the continent soon after the accession, in 1553, of the Catholic Queen, Mary Tudor. These exiles were of various sorts and humours. Those who finally went to Geneva, in October 1555, were a little splinter group, representing the most radical elements of the English Reformation.

They were religious extremists; it is therefore interesting to note how few they were. Indeed, in her now well-known census of the Marian exiles, published in 1938, Christina Garrett identified only 472 adult males altogether. She made no specific mention of the Genevans as a group.

The labyrinthine ways by which the exiles eventually reached political security (a number of them had been implicated in the Northumberland plot to subvert the succession) and religious liberty on the continent make an enthralling story. They mostly departed in the wake of foreign refugee churches which had flourished under royal benediction until the death of Edward VI. These foreign churches provided the exiles with essential contacts.

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