Le Mas Soubeyran
Opening times :
from March 1st to Nov. 30th.
9:30am - 12:00pm
and 2:00pm - 6:00pm
July and August
from 9:30am - 6:30pm
tel +33 (0)4 66 85 02 72
fax +33 (0)4 66 85 00 02
Built around a typical historical home in the Cevennes, the museum retraces a century (1685-1789) of French Protestant history.
The Reformation of the XVIth century was brought to France, and many people in the Languedoc region converted to Protestantism. As of 1598, after more than 30 years of religious wars, the Huguenots (French Protestants) enjoyed a limited freedom, guaranteed by the Edict of Nantes, signed by King Henri IV.
Louis XIV, the sovereign king, permitted only Catholicism as the state’s religion, therefore he signed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), forbidding Protestantism in the Kingdom.
The Desert Museum brings to life a century of intolerance and the resistance on behalf of the Huguenots until the French Revolution (1789). This period is called the ‘Desert’, as they continued to hold their assemblies clandestinely and were persecuted for it.
Built around Camisard leader, Roland’s birthplace and home…
The Claude Brousson Room
Numerous royal edicts and rulings deprived Protestants of all civil, professional and religious freedoms. The Edict of Revocation prohibited Protestant worship services, pastors were chased out of the Kingdom and all temples were destroyed. For many Protestants, this meant exile and for the others, to live clandestinely.
The Rolland and Cavalier Rooms
The kitchen and bedroom from the era evokes the Camisard war which took place in the Cevennes from 1702 to 1704. Approximately 3,000 cevenols, strengthened by their faith, managed to hold in check the 25,000 royal troops for a duration of two years, the only period of violent outbreak during a century of non violent resistance.
The Assemblies Room
On display are different objects used to celebrate forbidden worship services in the ‘Desert’, which were held in secret, isolated places.
The Bible Room
This room serves as a ‘parenthesis’ in the chronological progression of the first part of the visit, here we want to introduce the Bible as the underlying factor for the entire historical presentation. Under the painting representing a clandestine baptism, is a display of documents concerning the civil status problem of the XVIIIth century Protestants. There is a beautiful display of Psalters and a selection of other important religious works that were printed outside France for the use of the persecuted French Protestants.
The Antoine Court Room
One can discover the ‘Desert meetings’ not only in the numerous reproductions presented, but also in the letters condemning those who attended these gatherings. This room also evokes the life of Antoine Court, who called the first Desert synod in 1715 and helped give a solid structure to the clandestine Protestant church : discipline, synods, church services, and training for pastors. (This period lasted from 1715 through 1765).
The Paul Rabaut Room
This room recalls the last few years of the XVIIIth century. Paul Rabaut, known as the Desert apostle, marked the transition between the time of the proscription and that of the recovered freedom : The Edict of Tolerance (1787), and the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789). His son, Rabaut Saint-Etienne, pastor in Nimes, was elected the president of the National Assembly in 1790.
Looking beyond the suffering and persecutions recalled in the Memorial, we must recognize the resistance of these Protestants for the faith, despite intolerance.
The Pastors Room
This room has been set up in the memory of the Desert pastors, preachers and martyrs. Those who were condemned to either death or the galley-slaves are listed, as well as the lamentations of the preachers.
The Refugees Room
Nearly half a million Protestants went into exile in order to be able to freely practice their faith, bringing into the countries that received them : their ingenuity, knowledge and energy.
The Galley-Slave Room
This room commemorates the martyrdom of nearly 5,000 Protestants condemned for religious reasons to row on the royal galley-ships. They could have been pardoned had they accepted to denounce their faith. A beautiful collection of old Huguenot crosses.
The Bible Reading Room
This is a reproduction of what could have been an old XVIIIth century cevenol evening at home. The furniture and the costumes of the era bring this family worship service to life. Reading the Bible was at the heart of the evening, in spite of the risks of severe punishment, should the family be caught. Grandfather read as one of his granddaughters watched the outside.
The Prisoners Room
This room is dedicated more particularly to the Protestant women imprisoned for their faith. Those from the Languedoc region were sent to the Tower of Constance at Aigues-Mortes. Marie Durand, aged 19, was imprisoned for 38 years.