Foreign Policy
Froreign Policy

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

In 1559, France and Spain signed the PEACE OF CATEAU-CAMBRESIS. Over the following decades, the two major parties pursued foreign policies of their own, the HUGUENOTS a policy of alliance with protestant powers and of confrontation with Spain, the Catholic party (the Leagues of 1576 and 1585) a policy of alliance with Spain.
King FRANCIS II. (1559-1560) was married to MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTLAND in 1558, thus reestablishing a Scottish-French alliance in Scotland referred to as the OULD ALLIANCE.
COLIGNY, influential adviser to CHARLES IX. and leader of the French Huguenots, advocated France to declare war on Spain; his assassination in 1572 and the St. Bartholomew Day's massacre drew the French monarchy ultimately into the Catholic camp, and it might have been this fact rather than the massacre itself that was openly celebrated in Rome.
The marriage of princess MARGUERITE OF VALOIS to King HENRI OF NAVARRE (the future King Henri IV. of France) in 1572 was, from 1589 onward, to result in the dynastic union of France and tiny NAVARRE (i.e. what was left of it after Spain had occupied Navarre south of the Pyrenees in 1515); Navarre would be annexed to France in the time of the French Revolution.
In 1573, King mother CATHERINE DE MEDICI succeeded in having her third son HENRI elected king of Poland (an election which cost her dearly). Henri had been King of Poland for merely a few months, when he received news of the death of his brother Charles IX.. He secretly fled Poland, taking with him the diamonds broken out of the Polish crown, and, via Vienna and Venice, returned to France where he was crowned King Henri III.
HENRI DE GUISE, leader of the Catholic League (1576-1588), in 1556 had fought for the Habsburgs against the Turks; returned to France, he fought the Huguenots, a fight in which he was financially backed by Spanish subsidies.

The Huguenot party held on to a number of strongholds, among them coastal cities such as LA ROCHELLE. Huguenots were engaged in piracy and exploration, fighting the Spanish and Portuguese at sea. Huguenot pirates had settled at GUANABARA BAY (near present-day Rio de Janeiro) in 1555 and held on to the settlement until they were expelled in 1567. In 1564 Frenchmam RENE GOULAINE DE LAUDONNIERE founded a settlement called FORT CAROLINE (named after King Charles IX.) in Florida; the fort was captured by the Spanish the year after; most Frenchmen, deemed heretics by the Spanish, were put to the sword. Fort Caroline was briefly recaptured by the French in 1568.
French pirates, mostly from Normandy, had begun to sail into the Caribbean in 1522, with the goal of capturing Spanish ships and raiding Spanish settlements such as HAVANA, which was conquered and burnt down by JACQUES DE SORES. The activity of the French pirates continued after the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis.

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
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
Fort Caroline National Memorial, from National Park Service, from GORP
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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