Henry M. Baird was a professor of Greek language and literature at the University of the City of New York and the first vice-president of the American Society of Church History. His two-volume History of the Rise of the Huguenots, his best-known work, is considered by many scholars one of the seminal works on Huguenot history. In the book, Baird examines the French Protestant movement from the beginning of the French Reformation to the death of King Charles IX. Drawing on source documents that had recently been uncovered, Baird details the formation of the French Protestant Church, their subsequent persecution by Roman Catholic monarchs, and their consequent flight from France. Writing from an unashamedly pro-Huguenot perspective, Baird maintains a scholarly tone while allowing his passion for the subject to invigorate his account. Volume one covers the period from the start of the French Reformation in 1515 to the Edict of January in 1562.
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While the research and well-digested erudition exhibited in this work are eminently creditable to the learning and scholarship of the author, its literary execution amply attests the excellence of his taste, and his judgment and skill in the art of composition. His work is one of the most important recent contributions to American literature, and is entitled to a sincere greeting for its manifold learning and scholarly spirit.
—New York Tribune
The subject cannot be called otherwise than dry, but prof. Baird makes it readable. While he never departs from the sobriety of the calm historian, he has mastered the epoch so thoroughly that everything which he says tells on the current of affairs set running through his pages.
—New York Times
Henry Martyn Baird (1832–1906) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert Baird, a prominent Presbyterian minister and missionary in Europe. H.M. Baird attended New York University; The University of Athens, Greece; Union Theological Seminary; and Princeton Theological Seminary. He was professor of Greek language and literature at the University of the City of New York from 1859 until his death in 1906. He was the secretary of the American and Foreign Christian Union and the first vice-president of the American Society of Church History. He wrote two other works of Huguenot history: The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre and The Huguenots and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.