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BLOG: Who is Jean Pierre Bondurant?

Way back in 1985, I had a fantastic opportunity to study in France. Specifically, I was studying French at a summer session at La Sorbonne in Paris. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and as a result, I became semi-fluent in French, which has served me well upon occasion. Each day after classes, I would visit some historical or artistic site in Paris, and was richly rewarded, taking numerous visits to Le Louvre, Vaux le Vicomte, and Cluny. Thus, I have a soft spot when it comes to the French. I love their cuisine, the language, history, and overall culture.

This week's blog guest is Jules Larimore, and with a name like that, you know she's got a rich French ancestry! And not only that, she is actually writing historical fiction on her ancestors themselves--Jean Pierre Bondurant being one of them. So allow me to welcome Jules to Brook's Journal, and let's hear some more about Monsieur Bondurant and the real history behind Jules's novel.

READ ON, friends!!!

Who is Jean-Pierre Bondurant?

By: Jules Larimore

Find Me in the Stars: a Cevenoles Sagas novel, the second book in the Huguenot trilogy, is inspired by the true story of Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac. It begins as my protagonist, Jehan BonDurant, makes his way out of France to the “refuge” countries—a dangerous journey since Louis XIV had instituted an edict making emigration by Protestants illegal. Jehan chooses to leave France since staying meant restrictions, seizure of property and children, or even violent persecutions ending in arrest or death.

Jean Pierre’s story is one that is relevant to what many of us face today. He lived during an era when divisions among family and friends were rife because of religious and social bigotry and persecutions, each side often thinking their beliefs to be infallible and leaving many caught in the middle who did not fit in with either side.

The idea to write Jean Pierre’s story came over twenty years ago when my uncle presented our family genealogy, showing we descended from this Frenchman from a minor noble family, making him my 8th great-grandfather. His motivation to give up the estate he had inherited and flee the country always intrigued me, and I knew there were many sides during this divisive period that needed to find a voice. Once I dove into the research, I became fascinated with this overlooked period in the late 17th century.

He was born on 18 July 1677, in the mysterious Cévennes mountains of southern France to Huguenot parents, (also descendants of many royal European bloodlines), during the time of Louis XIV’s persecutions against Protestants. These persecutions created a legacy of secrecy among the Reformed Protestant families as edicts forbidding their worship forced them to hold prayer meetings in basements and barns, fields and caves. Other edicts restricted or forbade the practicing of many professions and ordered children of Huguenot parents to be taken from them at the age of seven to be educated in Dominican priories and convents. From the interconnection of many strands of documentation, it appears that Jean Pierre was one of these children. Because he was converted and raised in the Catholic faith, he, like many nouveaux convertis (newly converted), did not fit in well. After schooling at a Dominican priory until he came of age and was released, he must have felt thrust into a harsh, unknown world.

Amid these persecutions, two years of cold wet weather in 1694-1695 caused famines throughout the Cévennes. Just as the poor were starving, the ensuing destruction and atrocities from Louis XIV’s Intendant Basville’s persecutions were creating more divisions between neighbors and within families. The situation had citizens questioning whether they should stay in the country. Their only options seemed to be to hide their faith and live in secrecy, abjure their Reformed Protestant faith and pledge to the Catholic faith, or leave to seek refuge in a new land. Yet the latter option was illegal for Protestants without a special passport signed by the King.

As a result of the persecution and poverty, a mysterious spiritual resistance arose in the Cévennes mountains. The people felt their only choice was to rebel and fight the absolutism of the kingdom—both against the demand for religious unity and the new taxes that created an unfair burden on the poor and working classes. After Jean Pierre fled the country, this evolved into what became known as the Camisard War, which began in 1701. He most likely had some notion the conflict was brewing and he would be caught in the middle. As the first-born son of a noble, he would have been called up for the king’s militia, or he would have to refuse the order and join the rebels. No matter which side of the conflict he chose, he would be fighting against family and friends.

In 1697, after a powerful storm called an Episode Cévenol, severely damaged two mills and a hemp field that were part of Jean Pierre Bondurant’s estate, he decided to sell them along with some livestock to fund a quick escape from France. He left with a guide and a small group of people who would have traveled at night and relied on a network of supporters along the sheep drailles and routes into Switzerland.

Pamphlets offering the persecuted resettlement projects in idyllic locations were widely distributed at the time, and this promise of a more peaceful future is most likely what made Jean Pierre Bondurant take the risk to flee the country. He did, in fact, join one of these resettlement projects after a harrowing journey. But this promise of Eden only led him to a settlement of harsh conditions in a wild environment in the Virginia colony, which you can learn more about if you watch for the third novel to be released in the series. Sign up at my website, to stay posted on future release dates for Book 3 in the Huguenot trilogy and for novels in progress on other French ancestors of noble birth in the early Middle Ages.

*All sources for this article can be found in the Historical and Author’s Notes of The Muse of Freedom: a Cévenoles Sagas novel, Book 1 in the Huguenot trilogy.

All About the Book

Separated by miles, connected by the stars, two healers forge their destinies in a quest for a brighter tomorrow.

Inspired by a true story, this refugee's tale of sacrifice, separation, and abiding love unfolds in the Cévennes Mountains of Languedoc, France, 1697. A sweeping adventure during the time of Louis XIV's oppressive rule and persecutions, this compelling narrative follows the intertwined destinies of two remarkable protagonists, Amelia Auvrey, a mystic holy-woman healer, and Jehan BonDurant, an apothecary from a noble Huguenot family, in a riveting tale of enduring love, faith, and the search for light in the darkest of times.

Amelia and Jehan are fierce champions of tolerance and compassion in their cherished Cévenole homeland, a region plagued by renewed persecution of Huguenots. The escalated danger forces their paths to diverge, each embarking on their own dangerous journey toward survival and freedom. The Knights Hospitaller provide protection and refuge for Amelia and her ailing sage-femme grandmother, even as they come under suspicion of practicing witchcraft. And, to avoid entanglement in a brewing rebellion, Jehan joins a troupe of refugees who flee to the Swiss Cantons seeking sanctuary—a journey that challenges his faith and perseverance. Jehan arrives to find things are not as he expected; the Swiss have their own form of intolerance, and soon immigrants are no longer welcome. The utopian Eden he seeks remains elusive until he learns of a resettlement project in the New World.

During their time apart, Amelia and Jehan rely on a network of booksellers to smuggle secret letters to each other—until the letters mysteriously cease, casting doubt on their future together. Jehan is unclear if Amelia will commit to joining him, or if she will hold fast to her vow of celibacy and remain in the Cévennes. Seemingly ill-fated from the start, their love is tested to its limits as they are forced to navigate a world where uncertainty and fear threaten to eclipse their unwavering bond.

As a stand-alone sequel to the award-winning The Muse of Freedom, a bestseller in Renaissance Fiction, Find Me in the Stars is based on true events in the life of Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac--an unforgettable adventure where love and light endure against all odds.

“Larimore's ability to engulf a reader into a tale... is brilliantly done.”

5-star Highly Recommended Award of Excellence ~ Historical Fiction Company

All About Jules

Jules Larimore is the author of emotive, literary-leaning historical fiction with a dose of magic, myth, and romance to bring to life hopeful human stories and inspire positive change. She is a member of France’s Splendid Centuries authors’ collaborative, a board member of the Historical Novel Society of Southern California, and lives primarily in Ojai with time spent around the U.S. and Europe gathering a rich repository of historical research in a continued search for authenticity.

Connect with Jules


***To purchase, click on the book-cover!***

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1 Comment

Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
Apr 09

Thank you so much for hosting Jules Larimore today, and with such a fascinating post.

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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