The Showdown
the Huguenot Wars

A number of noblemen, some of them in influential positions, were Huguenots, most notably ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY. As before, leading noblemen and their factions competed for political influence (on the Catholic side, the LEAGUE, namely HENRI DE GUISE); now this competition was overshadowed by religious disagreement.
In 1562 the first of a series of WARS OF RELIGION, also called HUGUENOT WARS, broke out - the first lasting from 1562-63, the second from 1567-68, the third from 1568-70, the fourth from 1572-73, the fifth 1576, the sixth 1577, the seventh 1580. They were followed by the WAR OF THE THREE HENRIES (1584-89) and the WAR OF THE LEAGUE (1589-98).
In August 1572, French Queen CATHERINE DE MEDICI ordered the Huguenot nobles, many of whom were assembled on the occasion of Catherine's daughter Marguerite to Henri de Navarre, the future King HENRI IV., to be killed (ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S NIGHT'S MASSACRE, ca. 2.000 victims in and around Paris), an estimated 8.000-10.000 in all of France; yet the power of the Huguenots was not broken, the fourth Huguenot war followed, with more to come.
When news of the St. Bartholomew Night's Massacre reached Rome, Pope GREGOR XIII. had church bells rung in celebration.

Many Huguenots escaped the massacre, and entire communities held on to their belief, now fortifying their places. France went through a succession of civil wars, the HUGUENOT WARS, which ended with the EDICT OF NANTES, signed by aforementioned King Henri IV., himself a former Huguenot, in 1598. The edict permitted the Huguenots to practice their faith unmolested in specified "free cities", but not in Paris.
Under CARDINAL RICHELIEU, persecution set in again and France went through another civil war, which ended with the fall of LA ROCHELLE in 1629. A time of relative peace followed; Catholicism was France's state religion, the protestant Huguenots being reluctantly tolerated.

Article Huguenots, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Who were the Huguenots, from the Huguenot Society of South Africa
Huguenot Timeline, from the Pierre Chastain Family Association
The Wars of Religion, from Le Poulet Gauche, detailed
DOCUMENTS The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's day, from Hanover College

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 20th 2002

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