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In Paris the spirit was called le moine bourré; at Orleans, le mulet odet; at Blois le loup garon; at Tours, le Roy Huguet; and so on in other places.Now, it happens that those whom they called Lutherans were at that time so narrowly watched during the day that they were forced to wait till night to assemble, for the purpose of praying God, for preaching and receiving the Holy Sacrament; so that although they did not frighten nor hurt anybody, the priests, through mockery, made them the successors of those spirits which roam the night; and thus that name being quite common in the mouth of the populace, to designate the evangelical huguenands in the country of Tourraine and Amboyse, it became in vogue after that enterprise." While this and the many other theories offer their own measure of plausibility, attesting at least to the wit of later partisans and historians, "no one of the several theories advanced has afforded satisfaction." The issue of demographic strength and geographical spread of the Reformed tradition in France has been covered in a variety of sources.

Small contingents of families went to Orthodox Russia and Catholic Quebec.They retained religious provisions of the Edict of Nantes until the rule of Louis XIV.Louis XIV gradually increased persecution of them until he issued the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685), ending any legal recognition of Protestantism in France and forcing the Huguenots to convert or flee in a wave of violent dragonnades.Hans Hillerbrand in his Encyclopedia of Protestantism claims the Huguenot community reached as much as 10% of the French population on the eve of the St.Bartholomew's Day massacre, declining to 7–8% by the end of the 16th century, and further after heavy persecution began once again with the Edict of Fontainebleau by Louis XIV of France.

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A series of religious conflicts followed, known as the French Wars of Religion, fought intermittently from 1562 to 1598.