At the Genco 2012 forum, GenVerrE, (the acronym is for Généalogie des Verriers d'Europe) was a significant and pretty interesting presence. They had a large stand, laden with their many publications, and one of their members, Benoît Painchart, gave the talk "Les gentilhommes-verriers, entre légendes et héritages culturels".
As GenVerrE write in their brochure, glass makers, or glass blowers, were flourishing in what is now Rhineland-Palatinate from at least the fifteenth century. Much of that region and Alsace-Lorraine were decimated by the "most murderous and devastating war ever endured by Lorraine", e.g. the Thirty Years War, ended by the Peace of Westphalia.
Louis XIV had fortresses contructed in his acquired territory and then tried to lure new people to live there and replace all those killed during the war. With a sense of security thanks to the fortresses and with the privileges promised by Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of France, whole villages moved to the region. They came from Picardie, the Swiss Confederacy, Savoie, Italy, happy to accept freely distributed land and tax exemptions. The glass makers came mostly from Bade-Wurtemberg, the Swiss cantons, the Tyrol and Italy "and found in abundance all that they needed for glass making: sand, fire wood, and water".
These migrations "relaunched the industry and art of glass making in the entire north east of France. The small glass works of the eighteenth century became the world-known manufacturers Portieux, Baccarat, Saint-Louis, and Meisenthal."
GenVerrE is committed not only to the further discovery of the history of glass making but also to the identification of the families of glass makers of France and Europe. They publish "Eclats de Verre" a revue of the genealogies of glass making families and of which the twentieth number has just appeared. They maintain close links with other national associations of those studying the families of glass makers in their countries. As so many moved around so much, these links are very important to the research. Their publications list is impressive, with original research as well as extracts from civil and parish registrations.
If one of your French ancestors happened to have been a glass maker, these people will be pleased to help you to know more. Bonne chance!
©2012 Anne Morddel