Cimetière protestant, SouvignéCimetière protestant, Souvigné
©Cimetière protestant, Souvigné|S. Zwarteveen-OTHVS
in the Haut Val de SèvreProtestant History

Protestant History

In 1534, Calvin was in Poitiers, a university town, where he was well received. Quickly his ideas spread throughout society, and the Poitou became one of the regions where Protestant ideas took hold. The Wars of Religion were particularly severe in the region.

From 1562 to 1598, there were 8 Wars of Religion, opposing Catholics and Protestants.Throughout our territory, and particularly in Souvigné, there are many vestiges that bear witness of this past.

Protestant family cemeteries

The law of 1804 allowed everyone to be buried in the communal cemetery, regardless of their religion.  However, Protestants have kept the tradition of burying the dead in family cemeteries.

Generally, these cemeteries take the form of enclosures, surrounded by stone walls. This is a real marker of the Protestant history of our territory since in Souvigné there are more than 300 protestant graves that have been listed!


Temples do not follow strict architectural rules, but are based on spiritual conceptions.  During the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, a large number of temples were destroyed. Until 1787, no temples were rebuilt.

Protestantism was forbidden and illegal, and worship was clandestine.

From the 19th century onwards, new temples were rebuilt, such as those in Saint-Maixent, Souvigné or Cherveux…

Pastor André Rivet, local figure

André Rivet was a Calvinist theologian born in Saint Maixent in 1572. After studying theology in La Rochelle, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree in 1592.

La Rochelle, he was awarded a Master of Arts in 1592 and became pastor in Saint Maixent, then chaplain to the Duke of La Trémoille and pastor in Thouars. A great defender of Calvinism, he was offered the chair of theology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, in 1621.

In 1662, he became curator of the Orange College in Breda. In his memory, a street in Saint-Maixent-l’École bears his name.



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