Wars of Religion, 1562-1598

During this period, the Catholics battled the Calvinist Huguenots for control of the
monarchy. The fact that France had two weak monarchs: Charles ! "r. #$%&'()* and
Henry "r. #$()'+,* allowed rival aristocratic factions to align along opposing
religious lines. The minority Huguenots, led by -aspard de Coligny and .ouis de
Conde, were supported from #$%/ to #$(% by e0ternal 1rotestant armies in their conflict
with the Catholic crown.
The Huguenots were Calvinist 1rotestants during the #%th and #(th centuries. They
triumphed "in spite of 2t 3artholomew4s Day* in #$+, when the 1rotestant Henri 5
gained the throne, and were officially recogni6ed and tolerated by the 7dict of 8antes.
The 7dict lasted until #%+$9 when it was revoked, many of the Huguenots fled to
:merica, 7ngland and 2wit6erland.
Saint Bartholomew's Da, 15!2
Catherine de ;edici and the -uises persuaded Charles ! to allow an eradication
program, and on the night of /) :ugust #$(/ around $&,&&& Huguenots were
slaughtered in the 2aint 3artholomew4s Day massacre. The Catholics have been
dominant in France ever since.
:fter the massacre, the 1oliti<ues, a party of moderate Catholics, emerged under the
family of ;ontmorency. n #$(% the Holy .eague, a Catholic e0tremist party led by the
house of -uise, was formed for the purpose of opposing peace with the 1rotestants
accorded by =ing Henry . n #$+), the 3ourbon 1rotestant leader Henry of 8avarre
"Henry 5* became heir to the throne, and the league grew more militant against the
Huguenots and the king.
n #$+, the Holy .eague had Henry assassinated. Henry of 8avarre became Henry
5, and the league continued to fight against him, even after his conversion to
Catholicism in #$,>. The king eventually defeated the league, and in #$,+ the 7dict of
8antes declared toleration for the Huguenots. The Huguenots received a more stable
form of toleration under the 7dict of 8antes
3y the end of the war period, the higher orders of ennobled lawyer'administrators and
the aristocracy banded more tightly together for protection against the emerging urban
and peasant protest movements. The French monarchy began a system of absolutism
that governed France for another two centuries.
"igue, 15!5
La Ligue was a Catholic confederation founded in #$(% by the Duc de -uise to defend
the catholic religion from the Calvinists, and to unseat Henri and replace him on the
throne with Les Guises, the top men of the party.
Camisards white'shirted Calvinist peasants who banded together to fight royal control9
their name came from the 1rovence word camiso, or chemise "shirt*.
The revocation of the 7dict of 8ante in #%+$ caused an e0plosion of religious
?e0citement, and many Huguenots fled from France. n #(&/, the Camisards fought
openly against the royal forces of .ouis'!5.