PSALMS OF THE MARTYRS
1. An original display leaf of the Psalms of David 1629
2. A fine art reproduction of the title page of the Psalms of David 1629
3. A fine art reproduction of Brays pictures
The background to our enquiry is religious in nature, though as is often the case, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” How many wars have been fought, how many lives have been wasted, how many lies have been told in the name of Christianity or at least one particular version of Christianity, Protestant or Catholic alike? Nor should we forget the same is true of Islam, Shi’a vs. Sunni, and every other religion because their proponents have coveted land, money and power? If the whole truth of many past atrocities were only known I'm ’sure history would have to be reinterpreted. In fact the precise truth of history is known and recorded in the annals of Heaven and someday the book will be read aloud and all will give an account.
The year was 1562 when a contingent of French Huguenots (Protestants) established a settlement in the New World with the promise of being able to worship God without fear of persecution from the Established Church. This promise, made by the French government, was a way of ridding itself of some of those heretical Protestants and at the same time a way of gaining control of some new territory. The religious band of migrating pilgrims, however, were not so much concerned with the French government's territorial aspirations as they were with living in peace and worshiping God in freedom according to the dictates of the Bible. They built their houses and shops and a fortification, called Fort Caroline, at the mouth of a grand river in an uncharted land occupied by hostile natives.
The persecution they were fleeing was indeed severe and it made little difference if your family was wealthy, educated or in government or for that matter a member of the royal family. Whole churches were massacred and many imprisoned for nothing more than being the son, daughter or spouse of a Huguenot. Lands and businesses were stolen in the name of the State. Today in America this practice is called “Eminent domain”: The right of the State to steal a man's property in the name of “the good” of the government. Usually, if one looks real close at situations like this one will discover the arrow of greed has fallen not far from the “root of all evil.”
PSALMS OF THE MARTYRS
The freedom of these godly Christians was not long lived for in 1565, just three years into their adventure of faith, Spanish Conquistadors attacked Fort Caroline and slaughtered an unknown number of men, women and children. Spain had earlier claimed this territory for itself and they would have no Frenchmen, Catholic or Protestant, trespassing their land. The remaining 350 men of Fort Caroline were rounded up and taken to a beach where they were asked if there were any Catholics among them who would like to make confession. In response the Huguenots admitted being of the Reformed Faith and then in unison, arm in arm, they broke into singing the 59th Psalm,” …But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy.” It took some little while but by days end, and almost to the last man, 350 husbands, fathers, brothers and sons were hacked to death by the edge of intolerant swords.
A mauruading army had ahnialated peacful law abiding people by sumarry execution. Every nation whose laws are based on the Bible beleive that every accused man is entitled to his day in court. The principle of “Due Process” is at the heart of the Magna Carta. In fact, “Due Process” is a biblical principle laid down by God in the Garden of Eden.
Today, saw grass grows over the graves of long ago silenced men and women of faith and the tides of the river wash over the place where Fort Caroline originally stood erasing the physical vestiges of a place called home by a people who only wanted to worship God freely, without the fear of persecution. If it wasn't for political correctness Fort Caroline would be taught in schools in America today along side the founding of James Town and Plymouth Rock, even beside the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, Florida, which was established in 1565 by those same Spanish Conquistadors who martyred the first permanent settles in America, the French Huguenots, just north of Jacksonville, Florida at the mouth of the St. Johns River. The vanquished are seldáom given an opportunity to speak after all they are the losers.
So vibrant was the Huguenots living faith during those few years at Fort Caroline and so thorough was their witness to the native Timucuan Indians it was reported by Nicholas Le Challeux in 1579 that the Indians "yet retain such happy memories that when someone lands on their shore the most endearing greeting that they know how to offer is 'Du fond de ma pensée' (Ps. 130), or 'Bienheureux est qui conqués' (Ps. 138), which they say as if to ask the watchword, 'Are you French or not?' " The vanquished are seldom given an opportunity to speak after all they are the losers but on this occasion one could still hear the French Christians singing the Psalms through the voices of their Indian converts many generations after they were massacred. Hebr. 11:4 …God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. © BHC 2006