Reformation
First posted on February 3rd 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004






External Links : Biographies to the History of the Wars of Religion : France

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon (ÖH), in German; concise biographies
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), in German, scholarly
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.I : Aachen-Basilians, Vol.II : Basilica-Chambers, Vol.III : Chamier-Draendorf, Vol.IV : Draeseke-Goa, Vol.V : Goar-Innocent Vol.VI : Innocent-Liudger, Vol.VII : Liutprand-Moralities, Vol.VIII : Morality-Petersen, Vol.IX : Petri-Reuchlin, Vol.X : Reutsch-Son, Vol.XI : Son of Man-Tremellius, Vol.XII : Trench-Zwingli
Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907-1913 edition
Maison de Lorraine, from NPI Genealogie, in French
Who is Who in 16th Century France, from Le Poulet Gauche, illustrated
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of the Wars of Religion : France





Wars of Religion Era Biographies : France



Catherine de Medici, 1519-1589
Born in Florence as daughter of Lorenzo de Medici; married at the age of 14 to Henri, second son of King Francis I. of France. Mother of three sons - FRANCIS II. (1559-1560), CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) and HENRI III. (1574-1589). After the sudden death of her husband, King HENRI II. (1559) and her first son (1560), political power slipped out of the hands of the Valois dynasty; noble factions, distinguished by their religious stand (the HUGUENOTS, the radical Catholics) competed over political influence. As the mother to three successive kings, Catherine intrigued in order to reestablish the authority of the monarchy. To that end the married off her daughter Margot to King HENRI OF NAVARRA, a Huguenot leader; fearing Huguenot dominance, she then had Huguenot leader GASPARD DE COLIGNY assassinated the same day, an event which triggered SAINT BARTHOLOMEW DAY's massacre. NOSTRADAMUS was her protege. In 1573 she bribed the Polish magnates into electing her son Henri King of Poland (which he left immediately after receiving notice that his elder brother Charles IX. had died).

English language biography PageWise; from Women's History Resource Site, with bibliography, links; from Columbia Encyclopedia; from Le Poulet Gauche, illustrated

Charles IX., 1550-1574
Son of King HENRI II. and CATHERINE DE MEDICI. Upon the death of his elder brother FRANCIS II. in 1560 he became King of France at the age of 10; his mother Catherine ruled as regent. Under his rule, the FIRST HUGUENOT WAR (1562-1563), the SECOND HUGUENOT WAR (1567), the THIRD HUGUENOT WAR (1568-1570) were fought. Charles IX. ordered the ST. BARTHOLOMEW DAY'S MASSACRE. After the FOURTH HUGUENOT WAR (1572-1573), he died in 1574. A weak character, strongly influenced by his mother, even after he had reached adulthood.

English language biography from Columbia Encyclopedia

Coligny, Gaspard de, 1519-1572
Admiral of France (since 1552), while prisoner of war in Ghent 1557-1559 became a Calvinist. Huguenot leader; organized the Huguenot retreat after the devastating defeat in the BATTLE OF JARNAC (1569); reorganized the Huguenot forces. Wounded and assassinated in the MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY (Aug. 1572), at a time when he believed to have established dominating influence over King CHARLES IX.

English language biography from EB 1911; from Columbia Encyclopedia
German language biography, from BBKL, bibliography


Conde, Henri de Bourbon, Duc de Vendome, 1552-1588
Son of LOUIS DE CONDE; Huguenot leader; had to convert to Catholicism to avoid being slaughtered in the ST. BARTHOLOMEW DAY'S MASSACRE. Escaped royal control in 1574 and returned to Calvinist faith; became a leader of the faction of radical Huguenots. In 1576 appointed Governor of the Picardie. Wounded in the BATTLE OF COUTRAS (1587), died in 1588 age 36.

English language biography from The Adventures of the Bourbon'Condes and the Bourbon-Contis, illustrated

Conde, Louis de Bourbon, Duc de Vendome, 1530-1569
Huguenot leader; lead the Huguenot forces in the BATTLE OF DREUX (Dec. 19th 1562), which was lost, in the BATTLE OF ST. DENIS (Nov. 1567), also a defeat, was severely wounded in the BATTLE OF JARNAC in 1569 and afterward assassinated, by the order of the Duke of Anjou (HENRI III). The Battle of Jarnac had been yet another defeat for the Huguenots.

English language biography from Sack Lunch, has typos; from The Adventures of the Bourbon'Condes and the Bourbon-Contis, illustrated

Francis II.., 1544-1560, King of France 1559-1560
Son of HENRI II. and CATHERINE DE MEDICI, married to MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.


Guise, Francis, Duc de, 1519-1563
Second Duke of Guise; had fought in many wars; had defended Metz against Imperial forces in 1552. Was appointed Lieutenant General of France in 1557; took Calais in 1558. When King HENRI II died, he was succeeded by his minor son FRANCIS II., a minor married to MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, a nice of de Guise, who for the following 17 months was the most influential man in France. In these years, Calvinism spread rapidly in France; de Guise became an uncompromising Catholic, supporting the policy formulated by the COUNCIL OF TRENT which resolved to use force to lead the flock back to (Tridentine) Catholicism.
On March 1st 1562, Duke Francis de Guise ordered the massacre of unarmed Huguenots assembled for religious service (MASSACRE OF VASSY), which started the long chapter of Huguenot wars.

Article House of Guise, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Maison de Lorraine, from NPI Genealogie, in French


Guise, Henri, Duc de, 1550-1588
Third Duke of Guise, since 1563, succeeding his father FRANCIS DE GUISE. As his father a proponent of the Counterreformation. In 1584 he reestablished the CATHOLIC LEAGUE and signed the TREATY OF JOINVILLE with Spain, which brought him and the League annual Spanish subsidies. In 1587 he broke with King HENRI III. who had to flee Paris; Henri de Guise was assassinated at the order of King Henri III. on December 23rd 1588.

Article House of Guise, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Maison de Lorraine, from NPI Genealogie, in French


Henri III, 1551-1589; until 1573 known as Duke of Anjou; 1573-1574 King of Poland, 1574-1589 King of France
Third son of King HENRI II. of France and of CATHERINE OF MEDICI; was given the title Duke of Anjou. A stronger character than his elder brother Charles, he participated in the FOURTH HUGUENOT WAR 1572-1573. In 1573 the Polish magnates, bribed by Henry's mother Catherine de Medici, elected him King of Poland. When Henri, now in Poland, received news of his brother's death, he left Poland clandestinely (taking with him the jewels broken out of the Polish crown, which he used to finance his journey) and travelled via Venice back to France, where he ascended the throne.
In 1584 Duke HENRI DE GUISE reestablished the CATHOLIC LEAGUE, which Henri saw as a threat to royal power. In 1587 it came to an open breach between King Henri, who had to flee Leagist Paris, and Duke Henri de Guise; on Dec. 23rd 1588, King Henri had Duke Henri de Guise assassinated; on August 1st 1589, King Henri III. was assassinated by the Dominican monk Jacques Clement. King Henri III nominated King HENRI OF NAVARRA his successor (Henri IV.)

English language biography, from Le Poulet Gauche, illustrated

Henri de Bourbon, 1553-1610; King of NAVARRA 1572-1610, King of France 1589-1610
Son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d'Albret. Inherited the remainder of the Kingdom of Navarra, as well as domains in the south of France. A Huguenot leader; he married MARGARET (Margot), sister of King CHARLES IX. and daughter of CATHERINE DE MEDICI, on the conspicuous St. Bartholomew's day; escaped the ensuing massacre of Huguenots the very same night only by (formally) converting to Catholicism. In 1576 he fled from the court at Paris, returned to Calvinist faith and raised an army. Was involved as military commander on the Huguenot side in all Huguenot wars since 1576. In the 1580es his relations to King HENRI III improved; in 1587, when King Henri III had to flee Paris, they formed an alliance. When the Duke of Anjou died in 1584, Henri of Navarra was the next in line to the throne of France, which caused Pope SIXTUS V. to excommunicate him (which had little effect; as a Huguenot, Henri did not care). When King Henri III. died in 1589, he named Henri de Navarra his heir.
In the WARS OF THE LEAGUE, Henri attempted to nreak the power of the League; he defeated Leagist armies in battle, but, due to Spanish interference (1590, 1592) failed to take Leagist Paris by siege. In 1594, Henri de Navarre converted to Catholicism ("Paris is worth a mass"); Paris opened her gates. Remaining Leagist resistance was conquered in 1595-1598; the TREATY OF VERVIERS with Spain ended the long period of Huguenot wars.
As HENRI IV., Navarra ruled France until 1610; he is commonly referred to as France's most popular king. He restored peace by granting the Huguenots religious toleration in the EDICT OF NANTES. He restored French finances (credit to SULLY).

English language biography, from Le Poulet Gauche, illustrated

Johann Casimir (Johann (John, Jan) Kasimir), 1543-1593; since 1583 Regent of the Palatinate; held the title of Count Palatine
In violation of previous agreements, he reintroduced Calvinism to the Palatinate (1583). In 1576, and again in 1587 he lead armies of mercenaries into France, interfering in the Huguenot wars. In 1576 his expedition was successful, as he did not have to stand a battle and King HENRI III. made concessions. In 1587 his army was defeated by HENRI DUC DE GUISE.

German language biography, from BBKL

Lorraine, Cardinal de (Louis de Guise, Archbishop of Reims, Cardinal), 1555-1588
Son of FRANCIS DE GUISE, brother to HENRI DE GUISE. Together with Henri de Guise, the leading figure of the Catholic League; in 1588 assassinated at the instigation of King HENRI III.

Maison de Lorraine, from NPI Genealogie, in French

Marguerite de Valois, 1553-1615
Daughter of King HENRI II of France and CATHERINE OF MEDICI. In 1572 in a politically arranged marriage she was wed with King HENRI OF NAVARRA, a Huguenot leader. What had been planned as an event to overcome the gap of suspicion between the Huguenot and the royalist camp went horribly wrong, as the ST. BARTHOLOMEW DAY'S MASSACRE followed just a few days after her marriage; Margot persuaded her husband to convert to Catholicism to escape the fate of his fellows in confession.

French language biography, from Histoire en Ligne, illustrated

Charles, Duc de Mayenne, 1554-1611
Son of FRANCIS DE GUISE, brother to HENRI DE GUISE. After the death of his brother Henri, Mayenne became the most prominent leader of the Catholic League. Was defeated by HENRI OF NAVARRA at ARQUES in 1589; surrendered to Navarra in 1596.

Article House of Guise, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition

Montmorency, Anne, Duc de, 1493-1567
Duke, constable of France, a Catholic, victorious over the Huguenot forces in the BATTLE OF DREUX Dec. 19th 1562. The marriage of his sister Louise to Huguenot leader GASPARD DE COLIGNY made him suspect to the radical Catholics. When the Huguenots took control of Paris in October 1567 (SECOND HUGUENOT WAR), the Duke of Montmorency again lead an army against them and was victorious in the BATTLE OF SAINT DENIS, Nov. 10th 1567. In this battle, Duke Anne was fatally wounded; he died a few days later.

English language biography from infoplease

Montmorency, Henri, Duc de, 1536-1614
Son of ANNE DUKE OF MONTMORENCY; he became governor of Languedoc in 1563. Montmorency was a Catholic, but related to the Coligny family, Huguenot leaders. Moreover the province of Languedoc had a clear Huguenot majority. Sided with the Huguenots 1575-1577, later stayed out of the Huguenot wars. In 1593, King Henri IV. ( HENRI OF NAVARRA) appointed him constable of France.

English language biography from Columbia Encyclopedia



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