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Waldensian ideals merged
into the larger Protestant Reformation.
By 1629 they were part of the Dutch Reformed Church
Meanwhile persecution continued.
On 24 April 1655, at 4 a.m., a signal was given.
The Duke of Savoy's forces did not simply slaughter the Waldensian inhabitants of the town of La Torre in the
Piedmont district of Italy; they are reported to have unleashed an unprovoked campaign of looting, rape, torture, and murder. Parents were compelled to look on while their children were killed, before being permitted to die themselves.
Some 1700 Waldnesians were massacred during what became known as "The Piedmont Easter."
The massacre was so brutal it aroused indignation throughout Europe.
Print illustrating the 1655 massacre.
From Samuel Moreland's History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, published in London in 1658
The Waldenses first fled
from this dreadful persecution
and were sent,
at the expense of the city Amsterdam
and amply provided for,
to New Netherlands in America,
under the protection of
William III, Prince of Orange.
William III William of Orange
by Sir Godfrey Knell
These Waldenses settled on Staten Island as early as 1655.
The uniting factor for them was not their lineage or culture, but their Waldensian faith.
By 1658 they had built their first church, in Stony Brook, in present day New Dorp.
After a season their church and organization passed away,
and the great body of its members became blended with the Dutch inhabitants,
into our Dutch Protestant Reformed Church.
The grateful refugees may have named Princes Bay for their deliverer, William.
The name appears on maps created during the American Revolution, like the one on the right.
(At bottom, near left, inside blue area.)
The Prince of Orange (1650-1702), the Dutch soldier-prince, ascended the throne of England as William III in 1689. He and his wife Mary ruled England as joint sovereigns.
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