Domestic Policy
Domestic Policy

Domestic Policy under Francis II., Charles IX., Henri III., 1559-1589

FRANCIS II. ruled from 1559 to 1560, his brother CHARLES IX. from 1560 to 1574, the last brother, HENRI III., from 1574 to his assassination in 1589. Their mother, CATHERINE DE MEDICI, had a strong influence on her sons and on French policy.
France saw the confrontation of two rival camps, the strong HUGUENOT party, and the CATHOLIC party led by HENRI DUC DE GUISE. Charles IX. trusted in his adviser, Gaspard de Chatillon, Comte de COLIGNY, who also was the leader of the Huguenot party. Catherine de Medici chose to side with the Catholic party, had a hireling wound Coligny in what was supposed to be an assassination, and had her son, King Charles IX., order the massacre the Huguenot leaders assembled in Paris on the occasion of Catherine's daughter and Charles' sister, Marguerite of Valois, to another Huguenot leader, King Henri of Navarra (the future King Henri IV. of France). The event is known as the ST. BARTHOLOMEW DAY'S MASSACRE of 1572.

The period between 1562 and 1598 saw no less than 8 civil wars between the Huguenot party and their Catholic rivals. In 1562, the first Huguenot War was caused by the MASSACRE OF VASSY, where unarmed Huguenots, in the middle of a religious service, were put to the sword. Huguenot Wars were fought 1562-1563, 1567-1568, 1568-1570, the TREATY OF ST. GERMAIN (1570) providing a short relief; the 4th Huguenot war was started by the St. Bartholomew Day's massacre (1572, the war lasted until 1573), the 5th 1574-1576. In 1576, the Catholic side formed the CATHOLIC LEAGUE and another war followed (1577), the seventh in 1580, the last - the WAR OF THE THREE HENRYS - 1585-1589.
Although these wars saw a few battles, more significant were massacres (Vassy 1562, St. Bartholomew's day 1572) and assassinations - Francis II. was assassinated in 1560, Coligny survived (briefly) an assassination attempt in 1572, the Duc de Guise was assassinated in 1588, King Henri III. in 1589. There was little trust between the Huguenots and the Catholics; frequent treaties intended to establish a modus vivendi (St. Germain 1570, Monsieur 1576, Bergerac 1577) were willingly broken by the Catholic side; the EDICT OF BEAULIEU (1576, providing freedom of worship for the Huguenots outside of Paris) was repealed in 1577.

First Huguenot emigrants settled down in England in 1567.

Huguenot and Protestant Reformed Chronology, from Pierre Chastain Family Association
Biography of Coligny, from encyclopedia.com
France : Wars of Religion, from encyclopedia.com, from History Learning Site, from Le Poulet Gauche
The Leagues of 1576 and 1585, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Henri de Guise, Duc de Lorraine, from Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll down for Henri I. of Lorraine
St. Bartholomew Day's Massacre, from reformation.org, from Catholic Encyclopedia
St. Bartholomew Day's Massacre, from C.H. Spurgeon's Sword and Trowel, 1866, reflection on the event and on the protestant victims of the inquisition in Spain
Catherine de Medici, biography from Catholic Encyclopedia
Protestantism in France from the Death of Francis I. to the Edict of Nantes, from History of Protestantism by J.A. Wylie, 1878
Who is who in 16th century France, from Le Poulet Gauche
DOCUMENTS On St. Bartholomew Day's massacre (1572), by J.A. de Thou, from The Historry Net, from Hanover Historical Texts Project, from Modern History Sourcebook
Portrait of Henri de Guise, from National Gallery of Art
VIDEOS Queen Margot, 1994, in French with English subtitles

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

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