Wars of Religion in France


From a sketch by Jacques Callot (1592-1635).

Wars of Religion in France

The Huguenots Catherine de Medici
and Philip II


James Westfall Thompson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of European History in
the University of Chicago






Copyright 1909 By
The University of Chicago

Published May 1909

Composed and Printed By
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago, Illinois, U. S. A.





No one acquainted with the history of historical writing can have failed to observe how transitory are its achievements. Mark Pattison’s aphorism that “history is one of the most ephemeral forms of literature” has much of truth in it. The reasons of this are not far to seek. In the first place, the most laborious historian is doomed to be superseded in course of time by the accumulation of new material. In the second place, the point of view and the interpretation of one generation varies from that which preceded it, so that each generation requires a rewriting of history in terms of its own interest.

These reasons must be my excuse for venturing to write a new book upon an old subject. It is now nearly thirty years since the appearance of the late Professor Henry M. Baird’s excellent work, The Rise of the Huguenots (New York, 1879), and little that is comprehensive has since been written upon the subject in English, with the exception of Mr. A. W. Whitehead’s admirable Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France (London, 1904). But the limitations imposed by biographical history compel an author inevitably to ignore movements or events not germane to his immediate subject, which, nevertheless, may be of great importance for general history. Moreover, a biography is limited by the term of life of the hero, and his death may not by any means terminate the issue in which he was a factor—as indeed was the case with Coligny.

An enumeration of the notable works—sources and authorities—which have been published since the appearance of Professor Baird’s work may serve to justify the present volume. First and foremost must be mentioned the notable Lettres de Catherine de Médicis, the lack of which Ranke deplored, edited by the late Count Hector de la Ferrière and M. Baguenault de la Puchesse (9 vols.), the initial volume of which appeared in 1880. Of diplomatic correspondence we have the Ambassade en Espagne de Jean Ebrard,[viii] seigneur de St. Sulpice de 1562 à 1565 (Paris, 1902), edited by M. Edmond Cabié, and thé Dépêches de M. Fourquevaux, ambassadeur du roi Charles IX en Espagne, 1565-72, in three volumes, edited by the Abbé Douais (Paris, 1896). Other sources which have seen the light within the last three decades are M. Delaborde’s Vie de Coligny (3 vols., 1877-), the title of which is somewhat misleading, for it is really a collection of Coligny’s letters strung upon the thread of his career; the Baron Alphonse de Ruble’s Antoine de Bourbon et Jeanne d’Albret (4 vols., 1881); M. Ludovic Lalanne’s new annotated edition of D’Aubigné (1886), and the new edition of Beza’s Histoire ecclésiastique (ed. of Baum, 1883). Finally, among sources should be included many volumes in the “Calendar of State Papers.” Professor Baird has rightly said that “Too much weight can scarcely be given to this source of information and illustration.” His praise would probably have been even greater if he could have used the correspondence of Dale and Smith as freely as he did that of Throckmorton and Norris.

When we pass from sources to authorities the list of notable works is even longer. La Ferrière’s Le XVIe siècle et les Valois—the fruit of researches in the Record Office in London—appeared in 1879; M. Forneron’s Histoire de Philippe II (4 vols.) was published in 1887, and is even more valuable than his earlier Histoire des ducs de Guise (1877). Besides these, in the decade of the 80’s, are Durier’s Les Huguenots en Bigorre (1884); Communay’s Les Huguenots dans le Béarn et la Navarre (1886); Lettenhove’s Les Huguenots et les Gueux (1885); the baron de Ruble’s Le traité de Cateau-Cambrésis (1889), and the abbé Marchand’s Charles de Cossé, Comte de Brissac (1889). M. de Crue’s notable Anne, duc de Montmorency appeared in the same year and his no less scholarly Le parti des politiques au lendemain de Saint Barthélemy three years later. M. Marlet’s Le comte de Montgomery was published in 1890; M. Georges Weill’s Les théories sur le pouvoir royal en France pendant les guerres de religion, in 1891; M. Henri Hauser’s François de La Noue in 1892; M. Bernard de Lacombe’s Catherine de Médicis entre Guise et Condé in 1899, and, most recently of all, M. Courteault’s Blaise de Montluc (1908).[ix] Many contributions in the Revue historique, the Revue des questions historiques, the English Historical Review, the Revue d’histoire diplomatique, the Revue des deux mondes, and one article in the American Historical Review, January, 1903, by M. Hauser, “The Reformation and the Popular Classes in the Sixteenth Century,” are equally valuable, as the notes will show. I have also consulted many articles in the proceedings of various local or provincial historical societies, as the Société de Paris et de l’Ile de France; the Société de l’histoire de Normandie, the Société d’histoire et d’archéologie de Genève, etc., and the admirable series known as the Bulletin de la Société du protestantisme français, which is a mine of historical lore.

While the present work falls in the epoch of the French Reformation, no attempt has been made to treat that subject in so far as the Reformation is assumed primarily to have been a religious manifestation. Doctrine, save when it involved polity, has been ignored. But into the political, diplomatic, and economic activities of the period I have tried to go at some length. As to the last feature, it is not too much to say that our interpretation of the sixteenth century has been profoundly changed within the last twenty years by the progress made in economic history. Such works as Weiss’s La chambre ardente and Hauser’s Ouvriers du temps passé have revolutionized the treatment of this subject.

Such an interpretation is merely a reflection of our own present-day interest in economic and social problems. In this particular it is the writer’s belief that he is the first to present some of the results of recent research into the economic history of sixteenth-century France to English readers. My indebtedness to M. Hauser is especially great for the help and suggestion he has given me in the matter of industrial history. But I have tried to widen the subject and attempted to show the bearing of changes in the agricultural régime, the influence of the failure of crops owing to adverse weather conditions, and the disintegration of society as the result of incessant war and the plague, upon the progress of the Huguenot movement. In an agricultural country like France in the sixteenth century, the distress of the provinces through the[x] failure of the harvests was sometimes nearly universal, and the retroactive effect of such conditions in promoting popular discontent had a marked influence upon the religious and political issues.

It has been pointed out that “the religious wars of France furnish the most complete instance of the constant intersection of native and foreign influences.”[1] The bearing of the Huguenot movement upon Spanish and Dutch history was intimate and marked, and this I have also attempted to set forth. In so doing the fact that has impressed me most of all is the development and activity of the provincial Catholic leagues and their close connection with Spain’s great Catholic machine in France, the Holy League.

The history of the Holy League in France is usually represented as having extended from 1576 to 1594. This time was the period of its greatest activity and of its greatest power. But institutions do not spring to life full armed in a moment, like Athené from the head of Zeus. “The roots of the present lie deep in the past,” as Bishop Stubbs observed. Institutions are a growth, a development. The Holy League was a movement of slow growth and development, although it has not been thus represented, and resulted from the combination of various acts and forces—political, diplomatic, religious, economic, social, even psychological—working simultaneously both within and without France during the civil wars. I have tried to set forth the nature and extent of these forces; to show how they originated; how they operated; and how they ultimately were combined to form the Holy League. Certain individual features of the history here covered have been treated in an isolated way by some writers. The late baron de Ruble and M. Forneron have disclosed the treasonable negotiations of Montluc with Philip II. M. Bouillé and more recently M. Forneron have followed the tortuous thread of the cardinal of Lorraine’s secret negotiations with Spain. Various historians, chiefly in provincial histories or biographies like Pingaud’s Les Saulx-Tavannes, have noticed the local work of some of the provincial Catholic associations. But the relation of all these[xi] various movements, one to the other, and their ultimate fusion into a single united movement has not yet been fully brought out. What was the number and form of organization of these local Catholic leagues? What influenced their combination? What bearing did they have upon the course of Montluc and the cardinal of Lorraine? Or upon Philip II’s policy? How did the great feud between the Guises and the Montmorencys influence the formation of the Holy League and its hostile counterpart—the Association of the Huguenots and the Politiques? These questions I have tried to answer and in so doing two or three new facts have been brought to light. For example, an undiscovered link in the history of the Guises’ early secret intercourse with Philip II has been found in the conduct of L’Aubespine, the French ambassador in Spain in 1561; the treasonable course of the cardinal of Lorraine, it is shown, began in 1565 instead of 1566, a fact which makes the petty conflict known as the “Cardinal’s War” of new importance; the history of the Catholic associations in the provinces, hitherto isolated in many separate volumes, has been woven into the whole and some new information established regarding them.[2]

The notes, it is hoped, will sufficiently indicate the sources used and enable the reader to test the treatment of the subject, or guide him to sources by which he may form his own judgment if desired.

In the matter of maps, the very complete apparatus of maps in Mr. Whitehead’s Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France, has greatly lightened my task, and I express my cordial thanks to Mr. Whitehead and Messrs. Methuen & Co., his publishers, for permission to reproduce those in that work. My thanks are also due to M. Ch. de Coynart and MM. Firmin Didot et Cie for permission to reproduce the map illustrating the battle of Dreux from the late Commandant de Coynart’s work entitled L’Année 1562 et la bataille de Dreux; and to M. Steph. C. Gigon, author of La bataille de Jarnac et la campagne de 1569 en Angoumois, for[xii] permission to use his two charts of the battle of Jarnac. Those illustrating the Tour of the Provinces in 1564-66, the march of the duke of Alva and Montgomery’s great raid in Gascony are my own. Some lesser maps and illustrations are from old prints which I have gathered together, in the course of years, except that illustrating the siege of Havre-de-Grace and the large picture of the battle of St. Denis, which have been photographed from the originals in the Record Office.

During the preparation of this volume, which has entailed two prolonged visits to Paris and other parts of France, and to London, I have become the debtor to many persons. Among those of whose courtesy and assistance I would make special acknowledgment are the following: His Excellency, M. Jean-Jules Jusserand, French ambassador at Washington; M. Henri Vignaud, chargé d’affaires of the American legation in Paris; MM. Charles de la Roncière and Viennot of the Bibliothèque Nationale; MM. Le Grand and Viard of the Archives Nationales, where I chiefly worked in the K. Collection. At the Record Office, Mr. Hubert Hall and his assistant, Miss Mary Trice Martin, were unfailing in the aid given me. For the transcript of the “Discorso sopra gli humori del Regno di Francia,” from the Barberini Library in Rome, I am indebted to P. Franz Ehrle, prefect of the Vatican archives. I also hold in grateful memory the friendship and assistance of the late Woodbury Lowery, author of The Spanish Settlements within the Present Limits of the United States: Florida (1562-74), New York, 1905, with whom I was a fellow worker at the Archives Nationales in the spring and early summer of 1903.

Finally, I owe much to the suggestive criticism of my friend and colleague, Professor Ferdinand Schevill, and my friends, Professor Herbert Darling Foster, of Dartmouth College, and Professor Roger B. Merriman, of Harvard University, each of whom has read much of the manuscript.

James Westfall Thompson

The University of Chicago

January 1909



List of Maps and Plates xv
I. The Beginning of the Huguenot Revolt. The Conspiracy of Amboise 1
II. Catherine de Medici between Guise and Condé. Project of a National Council 40
III. The States-General of Orleans 69
IV. The Formation of the Triumvirate 91
V. The Colloquy of Poissy. The Estates of Pontoise. The Edict of January, 1562 106
VI. The First Civil War. The Massacre of Vassy (March 1, 1562). The Siege of Rouen 131
VII. The First Civil War (Continued). The Battle of Dreux (December 19, 1562). The Peace of Amboise (March 19, 1563) 172
VIII. The War With England.  The Peace of Troyes (1563-64) 198
IX. Early Local and Provincial Catholic Leagues 206
X. The Tour of the Provinces. The Bayonne Episode 232
XI. The Tour of the Provinces (Continued). The Influence of the Revolt of the Netherlands upon France. The Affair of Meaux 283
XII. The Second Civil War (1567-68) 326
XIII. The Third Civil War (1568). New Catholic Leagues. The Battle of Jarnac 349
XIV. The Third Civil War (Continued). The Peace of St. Germain 378
XV. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew 422
XVI. The Fourth Civil War 454
XVII. The Last Days of Charles IX. The Conspiracy of The Politiques 469
XVIII. Henry III and the Politiques. The Peace of Monsieur (1576) 486
Genealogical Tables 525
Appendices 529
Index 605



View of Paris Frontispiece
Huguenot March to Orleans, March 29-April 2, 1562 139
Campaign of Dreux, November to December, 1562 180
Battle of Dreux, According to Commandant De Coynart 181
Sketch Map of the Fortifications of Havre-de-Grace 202
The Tour of the Provinces, 1564-66 232
March of the Duke of Alva through Savoy, Franche Comté, and Lorraine 308
Execution of Egmont and Hoorne in the Market Square at Brussels 314
Paris and Its Faubourgs in the Sixteenth Century 327
Blockade of Paris by the Huguenots, October-November, 1567 328
Huguenot March to Pont-à-Mousson after the Battle of St. Denis 329
The Battle of St. Denis between pp. 332, 333
Autumn Campaign of 1568 368
Croquis du Théatre de la Guerre pour la Période du 24 Février au 13 Mars 1569, according to M. S. C. Gigon 376
Bataille de Jarnac, according to M. S. C. Gigon 377
Campaign of the Summer and Autumn of 1569 380
Poitiers in the Sixteenth Century 386
Plan of the Fortress of Navarrens Made by Juan Martinez Descurra, a Spanish Spy 398
Voyage of the Princes after the Battle of Moncontour; Montgomery’s Itinerary in Bigorre and Gascony; Union of Coligny and Montgomery in December, 1569, at Port Ste. Marie 402
The Massacre of St. Bartholomew 422
Plan de la Rochelle en 1572 458
Letter of Henry III of France to the Duke of Savoy 484
Letter of Henry III to the Swiss Cantons 485
Map of France Showing Provinces 602




The last day of June, 1559, was a gala day in Paris. The marriages of Philip II of Spain with Elizabeth of France, daughter of King Henry II and Catherine de Medici, and that of the French King’s sister, Marguerite with Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, were to be celebrated. But “the torches of joy became funeral tapers”[3] before nightfall, for Henry II was mortally wounded in the tournament given in honor of the occasion.[4] It was the rule that challengers, in this case the King, should run three courses and their opponents one. The third contestant of the King had been Gabriel, sieur de Lorges, better known as the count of Montgomery, captain of the Scotch Guard,[5] a young man, “grand et roidde,” whom Henry rechallenged because his pride was hurt that he had not better kept his seat in the saddle in the first running. Montgomery tried to refuse, but the King silenced his objections[2] with a command and reluctantly[6] Montgomery resumed his place. But this time the Scotch guardsman failed to cast away the trunk of the splintered lance as he should have done at the moment of the shock, and the fatal accident followed. The jagged point crashed through the King’s visor into the right eye.[7] For a minute[3] Henry reeled in his saddle, but by throwing his arms around the neck of his horse, managed to keep his seat. The King’s armor was stripped from him at once and “a splint taken out of good bigness.”[8] He moved neither hand nor foot, and lay as if benumbed or paralyzed,[9] and so was carried to his chamber in the Tournelles,[10] entrance being denied to all save physicians, apothecaries, and those valets-de-chambre who were on duty. None were permitted for a great distance to come near until late in the day, when the duke of Alva, who was to be proxy for his sovereign at the marriage, the duke of Savoy, the prince of Orange, the cardinal of Lorraine, and the constable were admitted.[11]


(Bib. Nat., Estampes, Hist. de France, reg. Q. b. 19)

After the first moment of consternation was past, it was thought that the King would recover, though losing the sight of his eye,[12] since on the fourth day Henry recovered his senses and his fever was abated. Meanwhile five or six of the ablest physicians in France had been diligently experimenting upon the heads of four criminals who were decapitated for the purpose in the Conciergerie and the prisons of the Châtelet. On the eighth day Vesalius, Philip II’s physician, who had long been with the emperor Charles V, and who enjoyed a European reputation, arrived and took special charge of the royal patient.[13] In the interval of consciousness Henry commanded that the interrupted marriages be solemnized. Before they were celebrated the King had lost the use of[4] speech and lapsed into unconsciousness, and on the morrow of the marriages he died (July 10, 1559). On August 13 the corpse was interred at St. Denis.[14] When the ceremony was ended the king of arms stood up, and after twice pronouncing the words “Le roi est mort,” he turned around toward the assembly, and the third time cried out: “Vive le roi, très-chretien François le deuzième de ce nom, par la grace de Dieu, roi de France.” Thereupon the trumpets sounded and the interment was ended.[15] A month later, on September 18, Francis II was crowned at Rheims. Already Montgomery had been deprived of the captaincy of the Scotch Guard and his post given to “a mere Frenchman,” much to the indignation of the members of the Guard.[16]


A. Catherine de Medici D. Couriers
B. Cardinal of Lorraine E. Courtiers
C. Constable Montmorency F. Physicians


The reign of Henry II had not been a popular one. He had neither the mind nor the application necessary in public affairs.[17] On the very day of the accident the English ambassador wrote to Cecil: “It is a marvel to see how the noblemen, gentlemen, and ladies do lament this misfortune, and contrary-wise, how the townsmen and people do rejoice.”[18] The wars of Henry II in Italy and in the Low Countries had drained France of blood and treasure, so that the purses of the people were depleted by an infinity of exactions and confiscations; offices and benefices had been bartered, even those of justice, and to make the feeling of the people worse, Henry II was prodigal to his favorites.[19] Finally the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) was regarded as not less disadvantageous than dishonorable.[20]

Meanwhile much politics had been in progress.[21] The new king was not yet sixteen years of age.[22] He was of frail health and insignificant intellect, being quite unlike his wife, the beautiful and brilliant Mary Stuart, who was a niece of the Guises, Francis, duke of Guise, and his brother Charles, cardinal of Lorraine, who had been in no small favor under Henry II. Even in the king’s lifetime the ambition of the Guises had been a thing of wonderment[6] and his unexpected death opened before them the prospect of new and prolonged power. Henry II had scarcely closed his eyes when the duke of Guise and the cardinal of Lorraine took possession of the person of Francis II and conducted him to the Louvre, in company with the queen-mother, ignoring the princes of the blood, the marshals, the admiral of France, and “many Knights of the Order, or grand seigneurs who were not of their retinue.” There they deliberated without permitting anyone to approach, still less to speak to the King except in the presence of one of them. Francis II gave out that his uncles were to manage his affairs.[23] In order to give color to this assumption of authority, as if their intention was to restore everything to good estate again, the Guises recalled the chancellor Olivier, who had been driven from office by Diane de Poitiers, Henry II’s mistress.[24]

Even before these events the Guises had shown their hand, for on the day of Henry II’s decease the constable, the cardinal Châtillon and his brother, the admiral Coligny, had been appointed to attend upon the royal corse at the Tournelles, by which maneuver they were excluded from all active work and the way was cleared for the unhampered rule of the King’s uncles. Rumor prevailed that D’Andelot, the third of the famous Châtillon brothers, was to be dismissed from the command of the footmen and the place be given to the count de Rochefoucauld.[25] Before the end of the month the duke of Guise was given charge of the war office and the cardinal of Lorraine that of finance and matters[7] of state.[26] At the same time, on various pretexts, the princes of the blood were sent away,[27] the prince of Condé to Flanders, ostensibly to confer with Philip II regarding the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis,[28] the prince of La Roche-sur-Yon and the cardinal Bourbon to conduct Elizabeth of France into Spain, so that by November “there remained no more princes with the King save those of Guise,”[29] who had influential agents in the two marshals, St. André[30] and Brissac.[31]


Much depended upon the attitude of Antoine of Bourbon, sieur de Vendôme and king of Navarre, who was first prince of the blood, and the person to whom the direction of affairs would naturally fall. At the time of Henry II’s death he was in Béarn, whither La Mare, the King’s valet-de-chambre, was sent to notify him,[32] the Guises having shrewdly arranged to have the ground cleared of the opposition of the Bourbons and Châtillons when he should arrive.[33]

But not all the opposition had been overcome. While Henry II had been generous to the Guises, he had been even fonder of the constable Montmorency, a bluff, hearty man of war, who became the royal favorite upon the fall of the admiral Hennebault, after the death of Francis I.[34] Montmorency was the uncle of the three Châtillons, Odet, the cardinal-bishop of Beauvais, Gaspard, the admiral Coligny, and François de Châtillon, sieur d’Andelot, and the King was openly accused of having made a disadvantageous peace in order to protect the constable and secure the ransom of Coligny, who was captured at the battle of St. Quentin.[35] In order to prevent the constable and the king of Navarre from meeting one another and concerting an arrangement, the Guises contrived Montmorency’s summary dismissal from court,[36] Francis II at their instigation sending him word to retire at once (August 15). The old war-dog[37] took the affront gallantly, and like an artful[9] courtier said that he was glad to be relieved of active duties on account of his age.[38] In the absence of the princes of the blood, the opposition to the Guises gathered around Montmorency and the Châtillons, the faction for a short time taking its name from the constable’s title, being known as “connestablistes.”[39] The political line of division was drawn very sharply, and the growing influence of Huguenot teachings gave it a religious accentuation as well. The less significant portion of the noblesse was inclined to repose after the long wars and was indifferent to politics; but the upper nobility were eager partisans, either having hopes of preferment or being, in principle, opposed both to the usurpation and the religious intolerance of the Guises.[40]

As to the clergy, its members almost without exception were supporters of the faith and the government of the Guises. The mass of the people as yet were disregarded by both factions, but were soon to come forward into prominence for financial and other reasons.[41] Henry II, unlike his father, had never suffered French Protestantism to flourish,[42] but, on the contrary, had undertaken[10] rigorous repressive measures. The edicts of Paris (1549), of Fontainebleau (1550), and of Chateaubriand (1551), made the Huguenots[43] subject to both secular and ecclesiastical tribunals.


The Protestant issue was both a religious and a political one, for to many men it seemed impossible to alter the religious beliefs of the time without destruction of the state. Francis I recognized this state of things in the rhymed aphorism:

Un roi
Une loi
Une foi

and his son rigidly sustained the dictum. The Edict of Compiègne, of July 24, 1557[44] imposed the death penalty upon those who publicly or secretly professed a religion other than the Catholic apostolic faith; the preamble declaring that “to us alone who have received from the hand of God the administration of the public affairs of our realm,” clearly shows the intimate relation of the French state and the French church. It is significant that the Chambre ardente was established to prosecute the Huguenots in Henry II’s reign.[45]


Ever since the duke of Alva had been in Paris the impression had prevailed that Henry II and Philip II purposed to establish the Inquisition in France,[46] and that the project had been foiled by the French king’s sudden death. The Huguenots were convinced of it and keen politicians like the prince of Orange and Count Egmont taxed Granvella with the purpose in 1561.[47] What the government did do has been carefully stated by another:

The Government largely increased the powers of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and, pari passu, detracted from those of the regular Law Courts called the Parlements. The Parlement of Paris protested not only against the infringement of its privileges, but against conversion by persecution, and the same feelings existed at Rouen, where several members had to be excluded for heretical opinions. The introduction of the Spanish form of inquisition, under a bull of Paul IV, in 1557, still further exasperated the profession. The Inquisitors were directed to appoint diocesan tribunals, which should decide without appeal. The Parlement of Paris flatly refused to register the royal edict, and continued to receive appeals. The finale was the celebrated Wednesday meeting of the assembled chambers, the Mercuriale, where the King in person interfered with the constitutional freedom of speech, and ordered the arrest of the five members, thus giving his verdict for the ultra-Catholic minority of Parlement against the moderate majority. Marshal Vieilleville, himself a sound Catholic, strongly dissuaded this course of action. Its result was that one of the most influential elements of the State was not indeed brought into connection with Reform, but as placed in an attitude of hostility to the Government, and as the grievance was the consequence of the religious policy of the Crown, it had at all events a tendency to bring about a rapprochement between the Reformers and the judicial classes.[48]



(Tortorel and Perissin)

Five of the advocates of the Parlement of Paris, of whom Du Bourg and Du Four were the most prominent, protested against this action, both because of its intolerance and because they believed it to be a political measure, at least in part, and were put under arrest for this manifestation of courage. Men reasoned very differently regarding this edict. The politicians and intense Catholics regarded it as necessary, both to preserve the church and in order to suppress those seditious spirits, who, under color of religion, aimed to alter or subvert the government. Others, who had no regard either for policy or religion, likewise approved of it, not as tending to extirpate the Protestants, for they believed it would rather increase their numbers, but because they hoped to be enriched by confiscations and that the King might thereby be enabled to pay his debts, amounting to forty-two millions, according to Castelnau, and thus restore his finances.[49] The trial of the parliamentary councilors was postponed for some time on account of Henry II’s death, but soon afterward they were brought before “the bishops and Sorbonnists.”[50] Du Four, upon retraction, was suspended from office for five years;[51] three others were fined and ignominiously punished; but Du Bourg[52] was condemned and executed on December 23, 1559, in spite of the solicitations of[14] Marguerite, wife of the duke of Savoy, and the count palatine who wrote to the King for his life.[53]

At the same time the measures of the government were redoubled. In November, 1559, a new edict ordained that all who went to conventicles, or assisted at any private assemblies, should be put to death, and their houses be pulled down and never rebuilt. By special decree the provost of the city was authorized, because Huguenot sessions were more frequent in Paris and its suburbs than elsewhere, to proclaim with the trumpet that all people who had information of Protestant assemblies should notify the magistrates, on pain of incurring the same punishment; and promise of pardon and a reward of five hundred livres was to be given to every informer. The commissaires des quartiers of Paris were enjoined to be diligent in seeking out offenders and to search the houses of those under suspicion from time to time using the archers de la ville for that purpose. Letters-patent were also given to the lieutenant-criminal of the Châtelet and certain other judges chosen by the cardinal of Lorraine to judge without appeal. The curés and vicars in the parishes were to excommunicate all those who had knowledge of Protestant doings and failed to report them.[54] In order to discover those who were Calvinists, priests bore the host (corpus Domini) through the streets and images of the Virgin were set up at the street corners, and all who refused to bow the head and bend the knee in adoration were arrested.[55] Similar measures were adopted in Poitou, at Toulouse, and at Aix in Provence where the double enginery of state and church was brought to bear in the suppression of heresy.[56] So great was the volume of judicial business as a result of these new measures that four criminal chambers were established at the end of the year, one to try offenses carrying the death penalty, the second for trial of those who might be condemned to make amende honorable, the third to judge those who[15] might be publicly burned, the last to punish various other offenses.[57] The saner Catholic opinion, as, for example, that of Tavannes, the brilliant cavalry leader, reprobated this recourse to extraordinary tribunals on the ground that the judging of criminals by special commissioners, who were persons chosen according to the passion of the ruler, was bound to be unjust or tyrannical, and that those counselors who were drawn from the courts of the parlements to be so employed offended their consciences and mingled in that which did not pertain to them. Tavannes justified his contention, legally as well as morally, on the ground that the King, being a party in the cause could not justly change the ordinary judges.[58]

The assassination of Minard, vice-president of the Grand Chamber of the Parlement of Paris, and one of the judges, who was shot in his coach[59] on the night of December 18, the same day that Du Bourg was degraded, was the protest against this order of things.[60] The murder was committed in such a way that the author of it could never be discovered.[61] This was followed by that of Julien Frène, a messenger of the Parlement, while bearing some papers and instructions relating to the prosecution of certain Protestants. These two crimes undoubtedly hardened the government[62][16] and hastened the prosecution of Du Bourg, who was put to death just a week later, on December 23, and led to some new regulations. In order to protect the Parlement, it was commanded to adjourn before four o’clock, from St. Martin’s Eve (November 10) until Easter; a general police order forbade the carrying of any firearms whatsoever[63] and in order to prevent their concealment, the wearing of long mantles or large hunting-capes was forbidden.[64]

It is to be observed that the Huguenots were concerted not only for religious, but for political interests. The distinction was fully appreciated at the time, the former being called “Huguenots of religion” and the latter “Huguenots of state.”[65] The former were Calvinists who were resolved no longer to endure the cruelties of religious oppression; the latter—mostly nobles—those opposed to the monopoly of power enjoyed by the Guises.[66] The weight[17] of evidence is increasingly in favor of the view that the causes of the Huguenot movement were as much if not more political and economic than religious.

It was only in the general dislocation and désœuvrement of society that followed the cessation of the foreign wars that the French began to realize the weight of the burdens which their governmental system laid upon them. Until the religious sense gave a voice to the dumb discontent, social or political, first in the Huguenot rising and afterward in the outbreak of the League, there was little to show the real force of the opposition to the established order.[67]

Abstractly considered, the religious Huguenots were not very dangerous to the state so long as they confined their activity to the discussion of doctrine. This could not easily be done, however, nor did the opponents of the church so desire; for the church was a social and political fabric, as well as a spiritual institution, and to challenge or deny its spiritual sovereignty meant also to invalidate its social and political claims, so that the whole structure was compromised. Thus the issue of religion raised by the Huguenots merged imperceptibly into that of the political Huguenots, who not only wanted to alter the foundations of belief, but to change the institutional order of things, and who used the religious opposition as a means to attack the authority of the crown. The most active of this class were the nobles, possessed of lands or bred to the profession of arms, whom a species of political atavism actuated to endeavor to recover that feudal power which the noblesse had enjoyed before the powerful kings like Louis IX and Philip IV coerced the baronage; before the Hundred-Years’ War ruined them; before Louis XI throttled the League of the Public Weal in 1465. The weakness of Francis II, the minority of the crown[18] under Charles IX, and, above all, the dissatisfaction of the princes of the blood and the old aristocracy, like the Montmorencys, with the upstart pretensions and power of the Guises—these causes united to make the Huguenots of state a formidable political party. Religion and politics together provoked the long series of civil wars whose termination was not until Henry IV brought peace and prosperity to France again in 1598.[68]

It is necessary to picture the state of France at this time. The French were not essentially an industrial or commercial nation in the sixteenth century. France had almost no maritime power and its external commerce was not great. The great majority of the French people was composed of peasants, small proprietors, artisans, and officials. If we analyze city society, we find first some artisans and small merchants—the bourgeois and the gens-de-robe forming the upper class. The towns had long since ceased to govern themselves. Society was aristocratic and controlled by the clergy and nobility. The upper clergy was very rich. High prelates were all grand seigneurs, while the lower clergy was very dependent. Monks abounded in the towns, and the curates possessed a certain influence. The most powerful class was the nobles, seigneurs, and gentlemen, who possessed a great portion of the rural properties, and still had fortified castles. They were wholly employed either at court or in war, or held appointments as governors of provinces and captains of strongholds. The nobles alone constituted the regular companies of cavalry, that is to say, the dominant element of the army. This class was therefore of influence in the state and the most material force in society. The government was an absolute monarchy. The king was theoretically uncontested master and obeyed by all; he exercised an arbitrary and uncontrolled power, and could decide according to his pleasure, with reference to taxes, laws, and affairs both of the state and of the church, save in matters of faith. He named and revoked the commissions of all the governors and acted under the advice of a council composed of the princes of the blood and favorites. But this absolute authority was still personal. The[19] king was only obeyed upon condition of giving the orders himself. There was no conception of an abstract kingship. If the king abandoned the power to a favorite, the other great personages of the court would refuse to obey, and declare that the sovereign was a prisoner. Everything depended upon a single person. No one thought of resisting Francis I or Henry II because they were men grown at their accession. But after 1559 we find a series of royal infants or an indolent monarch like Henry III. Then began the famous rivalries between the great nobles, rivalries out of which were born the political parties of the times, in which the Guises, the Montmorencys, and the famous Châtillon brothers figure so prominently.

Fundamentally speaking, the aims of both classes of Huguenots were revolutionary, and were directed, the one against the authority of the mediaeval church, the other against the authority of the French monarchy. The latter was a feudal manifestation, not yet republican. The republican nature of early political Huguenotism has been exaggerated. There was no such feeling at all as nearly as 1560,[69] and even at the height of Huguenot activity and power in 1570-72, most men still felt that the state of France was vrayement monarchique,[70] and that the structure of society and the genius of the people was strongly inclined to the form of government which eight centuries of development had evolved; that it was searching for false liberty by perilous methods to seek fundamentally to alter the state.[71] In a word, most political Huguenots in 1560 were reformers, not revolutionists; the extremists were Calvinist zealots and those of selfish purposes who were working for their own ends. For in every great movement there are always those who seek to exploit the cause. Mixed with both classes of Huguenots were those who sought to fish in troubled waters, who, under the guise of religion or the public good, took occasion to[20] pillage and rob all persons, of whatever degree or quality; who plundered cities, pulled down churches, carried off relics, burnt towns, destroyed castles, seized the revenues of the church and the king, informed for the sake of reward, and enriched themselves by the confiscated property of others. Similar things are not less true of the Catholics. For there were zealots and fanatics among them also, who under pretext of religion and patriotism were guilty of great iniquity and heaped up much ill-gotten wealth.[72]

The ascendency of the Guises quite as much as the suppressive measures of the government against Calvinism served to bring this disaffection to a head. The issues, either way, cannot be separated. The practical aims of the Guises were large enough to create dismay without it being necessary to believe that as early as 1560 they aimed to secure the crown by deposing the house of Valois. It was unreasonable to suppose, though it proved to be so in the end, that the four sons of Henry II would all die heirless, and even in the event of that possibility, the house of Bourbon still remained to sustain the principle of primogeniture.

The Guises came from Lorraine, their father having been brother of the old duke of Lorraine; and through their mother they were related to the house of Bourbon. They were thus cousins-german of the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé and related to the King and the princes of the blood. Their income, counting their patrimony, church property, pensions and benefits received from the king, amounted to 600,000 francs (nearly $500,000 today), the cardinal of Lorraine alone having the disposal of half that sum. This wealth, united with the splendor of their house, their religious zeal, the popularity of the duke of Guise, and the concord which prevailed among them, put them ahead of all the nobles of the realm. The provincial governments[21] and the principal offices were in their hands or those of their partisans.

The cardinal, who was the head of the house, was in the early prime of life. He was gifted with great insight which enabled him to see in a flash the intention of those who came in contact with him; he had an astonishing memory; a striking figure; an eloquence which he was not loath to display, especially in politics; he knew Greek, Latin, and Italian, speaking the last with a facility that astonished even Italians themselves; he was trained in theology; outwardly his life was very dignified and correct, but, like many churchmen of the time he was licentious. His chief fault was avarice, and for this he was execrated. His cupidity went to criminal limits, and coupled with it was a duplicity so great that he seemed almost never to tell the truth. He was quick to take offense, vindictive, envious. His death would have been as popular as that of Henry II.[73]

On the other hand, the duke of Guise was a man of war, famed as the recoverer of Calais and the captor of Metz. He was as popular as his brother was otherwise. But, like him, he was avaricious stealing even from his own soldiers.[74] According to their opponents the ambition of the Guises was not to be content with the throne of France merely. The throne of St. Peter and the crown of Naples were also believed to be goals of their ambition, the cardinal of Lorraine aspiring to the first and his brother, the duke, aspiring to the other in virtue of the relationship of the Guises to the house of Anjou, one-time occupants of the Neapolitan throne.[75] Even this programme was to be excelled. Their enterprises in Scotland in favor of Mary Stuart[76] are known to every student of English history; and after having vanquished Scotland many of the German princes feared that they might move their forces into Denmark in order to put the duke of Lorraine, their relative and the brother-in-law of the king of Denmark, into possession of the kingdom.[77]


“La tyrannie guisienne”[78] was a practical ascendency, not a mere fiction of their opponents. As uncles of Francis II, destined morally to be a minor always, owing to his weakness of will and mediocre ability, having in their hands the chief offices of state, the Guises proceeded to build up a system of government wholly their own, not only in central but in provincial affairs, to compass which the removal of the constable and the princes of the blood from the vicinity of the King was the first step. Then followed an attempt to acquire control of the provincial governments. Montmorency, the late constable, was deprived of the government of Languedoc;[79] the governments of Touraine and Orleans, in the very heart of France, were given to the duke of Montpensier and the prince de la Roche-sur-Yon. Trouble arose, though, in January, 1560, when the Guises excluded the prince of Condé from the government of Picardy and gave it to the marshal Brissac, although “the office had been faithfully administered by his predecessors.”[80]

The cardinal of Lorraine’s position with reference to the finances enabled him to provide the Guise faction with the resources necessary to back up its political intentions.[81] The onerous taxation of Francis I had been increased by Henry II, both the taille and the gabelle, the collection of which had caused a fierce outbreak at Bordeaux in the middle of the last reign; loans were resorted to, “not without great suspicion of their being applied to the King’s finances;” and the wages of the soldiers in garrisons and officers withheld.[82] This condition of things naturally drew[23] the constable[83] and his partisans toward the prince of Condé, who vainly endeavored to persuade the king of Navarre, as first prince of the blood, and therefore the natural supporter of the crown instead of the Guises, to take a firm stand, Condé especially representing to him how great a humiliation it was to the crown that the administration of the kingdom should fall so completely into the hands of the “foreigners” of Lorraine; that, considering the weakness of the King, the fact that the provincial governorships and those of the frontier fortresses and the control of finances (which enabled the Guises to subject the judiciary to their devotion) were in their hands, foreboded ill to France.

Antoine of Bourbon listened to the complaints against the the Guises, but did little. At this time he was forty-two years of age. He was tall of stature, well-knit, robust; affable to everybody without affectation or display. His manners were open and frank, and his generosity was so great that he was always in debt. By the two merits of urbanity and generosity he made a superficial impression that did not last. In speech he was vain, and imprudent and inconstant in word and deed, not having the strength of will to adhere to a fixed purpose. He was suspected of indifference to religion and even of impiety at this time because he renounced the mass, though it was generally thought that this was with the purpose of making himself chief of the Huguenot party and not for religious zeal. The Protestants themselves called him a hypocrite.[84] Antoine would not make common cause with the constable partly from natural vacillation of character, partly because he believed that the constable had not supported his claims to the kingdom of Navarre, which he had been in hopes of recovering during the late negotiations at Cateau-Cambrésis.[85] With the conceit of a weak man in a prominent position, the king of Navarre entertained schemes of his own, which he proceeded to develop. His purpose was to play Spain and[24] England against one another, in the hope that he either might persuade Philip II to restore the kingdom of Navarre to him by a firm advocacy of Catholicism in France, which, of course, prevented him from affiliating with the Huguenot party to which Condé and the Châtillons were attached; or, in the event of failure in this, to side with the Huguenots and enlist English support. Accordingly, shortly after his arrival at the court from Béarn, on August 23, 1559, Antoine sent a gentleman to Throckmorton, the English ambassador in France, desiring him to meet him “in cape” in the cloister of the Augustine Friars on that night. When they met, after a long declaration of his affection for Elizabeth, he said that he would write to her with his own hand, since he would trust no one except himself, for if either the Guises or the Spanish ambassador knew of it, “it would be dangerous to both and hinder their good enterprise.”[86]

In the interval, while waiting to hear from the English queen, Antoine of Bourbon, who had been coldly received at court, found that there was no room for a third party between those of the constable and the Guises.[87] At the same time the latter were made fully aware of his doings through the treachery of D’Escars, his chamberlain and special favorite,[88] and shrewdly schemed to rid themselves of his presence by sending him to Spain as escort for Elizabeth, the celebration of whose marriage (by proxy) to the King of Spain had come to such a fatal termination, and whose departure had been necessarily delayed by her father’s death.[89] In[25] order to bait the hook the Guises represented to the beguiled king of Navarre that the opportunity was a most excellent one to urge his claims to his lost kingdom, and called in Chantonnay, the Spanish ambassador in France, to enforce this argument.[90]


The spirit of unrest in France, both political and religious, was so great that only a head was wanting, not members, in order to bring things to a focus. The whole of Aquitaine and Normandy was reported, in December, 1559, to be in such “good heart” as to be easily excited to action if they perceived any movement elsewhere;[91] in February, 1560, the turbulence in Paris was so great that Coligny was appointed to go thither in advance of the King’s entrance “for the appeasing of the garboil there.”[92] In order to repress this spirit of rebellion the government diligently prosecuted the Huguenots.[93] The Guises hoped that the severity exercised during the last few months in Paris and many other cities against persons condemned for their religion, of whom very great numbers were burnt alive,[94] would terrify the Calvinists and[27] the political Huguenots into obedience. But on the contrary, local rebellion increased. At Rouen, at Bordeaux, and between Blois and Orleans, Huguenots arrested by the King’s officers were rescued by armed bands, in some cases the officers being killed. Indeed, so common did these practices become that they were at last heard of without surprise.[95]

Imagine a young king [wrote the Venetian ambassador] without experience and without authority; a council rent by discord; the royal authority in the hands of a woman alternately wise, timid, and irresolute, and always a woman; the people divided into factions and the prey of insolent agitators who under pretense of religious zeal trouble the public repose, corrupt manners, disparage the law, check the administration of justice, and imperil the royal authority.[96]

The interests of the religious Huguenots and the political Huguenot’s continued to approach during the autumn and winter of 1559-60. In order to make head against the usurpation of the Guises,[97] which they represented as a foreign domination, the latter contended that it was necessary to call the estates of France in order to interpret the laws, just as the Calvinists contended for an interpretation[28] of the Scriptures. The contentions of the Huguenots, the tyrannical conduct of the Guises, the menaces which they did not hesitate to utter against the high nobles of the realm, the retirement into which they had driven the constable, the removal of the princes of the blood which they had brought about upon one pretext or another, the contempt they expressed for the States-General, the corruption of justice, their exorbitant financial policy, the disposal of offices and benefices which they practiced—all these causes, united with religious persecutions, constituted a body of grievances for which redress inevitably would be demanded. The question was, How? The leaders of the Huguenots—and the term is used even more in a political sense than in a religious one—were not ignorant of the history of the Reformation in Germany, nor unaware of the fact that politics had been commingled with religion there.[98] The question of ways and means being laid before the legists of the Reformation and other men of renown in both France and Germany, it was answered that the government of the Guises could be legally opposed and recourse made to force of arms, provided that the princes of the blood, who, in such case had legitimate right to bear rule in virtue of their birth, or any one of their number, could be persuaded to endeavor to do so.[99] But the attempt necessarily would have to be of the nature of a coup de main, for the reason that the King was in the hands of the Guises and the council composed of them and their partisans. After long deliberation it was planned, under pretext of presenting a petition to the King, to seize the cardinal of Lorraine and the duke of Guise, then to assemble the States-General for the purpose of inquiring into their administration, and before them to prosecute the ministers for high treason.[100] Three classes of men found themselves consorting together in this movement: those actuated by a sentiment of[29] patriotism, conceiving this to be the right way to serve their prince and their country; second, those moved by ambition and fond of change; finally, zealots who were filled with religious enthusiasm and a wish to avenge the intolerance and persecution which they and theirs had suffered.[101] For such an enterprise Louis of Bourbon, the prince of Condé, was the logical leader, both because of his position as a prince of the blood and on account of his resentment toward the Guises for having been excluded from the government of Picardy. But the prince, when besought to attempt the overthrow of the Guises for the deliverance of the King and the state, in view of the dubious conduct of his brother, concluded that it would be too perilous to the cause for him to be overtly compromised, in event of failure.[102] Montmorency was not possible as a leader, for his religious leanings were in no sense Calvinistic; he was not a prince of the blood, and therefore his contentions could not politically have the weight of Condé’s; and finally, his grievance was more a personal than a party one.[103]


The conspirators found a leader in the person of a gentleman of Limousin or Périgord, one Godfrey de Barry, sieur de la Renaudie,[104] who had been imprisoned at Dijon, escaped and found refuge in Switzerland;[105] he had a special grievance against the Guises, who had lately (September 4, 1558) put his brother-in-law, Gaspard de Heu, sieur de Buy, to death.[106]

The active participants were, in the main, recruited from the Breton border, Anjou, Saintonge, and Poitou, with individual captains from Picardy, Normandy, Guyenne, Provence, and Languedoc.[107] Their rendezvous was at Nantes, in a house owned, it is said, by D’Andelot.[108] But the author of the whole daring project was the famous François Hotman, a French refugee at Geneva, and the real inspiration of the movement came from Switzerland, for the unexpected death of Henry II seemed to the French exiles in Switzerland to open the door of the mother country again to them.[109]



(Tortorel and Perissin)

The whole plot was concerted in a meeting held at Nantes on February 1, 1560,[110] which was chosen partly because of its remoteness, partly because the Parlement of Brittany being in session, the conspirators could conceal their purpose by pretending to be there on legal business. A marriage festival also helped to disguise their true purpose; and for the sake of greater caution, the principals were careful not to recognize one another in public.[111] It was determined to muster two hundred cavalry from each town in the provinces of Guyenne, Gascony, Périgord, Limousin, and Agenois. For the maintenance of this force they intended to avail themselves of the revenues and effects of the abbeys and monasteries of each province, taxing them arbitrarily and using force if unable to obtain payment in any other way.[112] The initiative was to have been taken on March 6,[113] under the form of presenting a[32] petition to the King against the usurpation of the Guises.[114] Unfortunately for the success of the enterprise, it was too long in preparation and too widely spread to keep secret.[115] The magnitude of the plot alarmed the Guises, in spite of the full warning they had received.[116] Aside from outside sources of information, the conspiracy was revealed by one of those in it, an advocate of the[33] Parlement named Avenelles, whose courage failed him at the critical moment.[117] Thereupon, for precaution’s sake, the court moved from Blois to the castle of Amboise, which the duke, having the King’s authority to support him, immediately set about fortifying. He likewise secured the garrison and townspeople, and found a plausible pretext to watch the prince of Condé, by giving him one of the gates to defend; but, at the same time, sent his brother, the grand prior along with a company of men-at-arms of assured fidelity. In view of alarming rumors a posse was sent on March 11 under command of the count of Sancerre to Tours, where some ten or twelve of those in the plot, notably the baron[34] de Castelnau, the captain Mazères, and a gentleman named Renay were already awaiting the money which was to be distributed among companies of theirs secretly stationed in the neighboring villages.[118] Twenty-five of the conspirators were arrested without opposition, whilst incautiously walking outside the Château de Noizay, between three and four leagues from Amboise, which belonged to the wife of Renay, and the whole number of them, with five others arrested at Tours by the count de Sancerre, were taken to Amboise. Immediate examination, though, showed that some of them had risen in arms, partly from friendship for certain captains under whom they had served, while others had been tempted by a trifle of earnest money in lieu of pay, as usual when soldiers were raised for companies, without knowing the place of their service, or its purpose. They were all dismissed, with the exception of one or two who remained prisoners, the chancellor Olivier having admonished them and told them that though they deserved to die the king of his clemency, for this once granted them their lives.[119] To enable them to return home, the King had a crown (teston = 10 to 11 sous) given to each man. But the alarm was not yet ended. That night (March 14) several couriers arrived at the court bringing new advices. The next morning at daybreak there was greater commotion than ever before the castle, for two hundred cavalry made their appearance in the town. They thought themselves almost sure of not finding any sort of resistance and that[35] they consequently would be able to effect their purpose, as all the princes and lords, like all the rest of the court, had no sort of defensive armour except some coats of mail, and very few even of those, while their offensive weapons were merely swords and daggers, with a few pistols, whereas, on the contrary, the insurgents were well armed with both kinds of weapons and were for the most part well horsed. Some boatmen saw the insurgents following the course of the Loire, and their shouts aroused the castle. One or two were killed, whereupon the rest took to flight toward the country. But several were captured and two of them having been recognized as among the company who had been pardoned on the evening before, they were instantly hanged, with two others taken on the preceding day, on the battlements over the castle gate.


(Tortorel and Perissin)

As a result of the new alarm there was a general scattering of bands of arrest on the next day (March 15). The marshal St. André was dispatched to Tours with nearly two hundred horse, with orders to take five companies of men-at-arms from the garrison in the immediate neighborhood. He was followed by Claude of Guise, the duke d’Aumale, the duke de Nemours and the prince[36] of Condé.[120] Marshal Termes was sent to Blois; the marshal Vieilleville to Orleans; the duke of Montpensier to Angers; La Rochefoucault to Bourges; Burie to Poitiers.[121] During the day some forty others were taken. Fifteen of those pursued retreated into a house and defended themselves most obstinately, wounding many of their assailants who surrounded it, so that the house was set on fire: one of them, rather than surrender, burned himself alive by throwing himself into the flames. Toward nightfall six or seven more of them were hanged. The duke of Guise, whom the King in the exigency of the moment, made lieutenant-general on March 17,[122] did not fail to take every precaution; he appointed two princes and two knights of St. Michael for each quarter of Amboise, keeping sentries there and sending out scouts as if the town were besieged. The most exposed parts of the castle were repaired and supplied with food, and above all with money, weapons, and artillery. The most useful remedy, however, was the publication and transmission for publication to all the towns and places in France of a general pardon for all the insurgents who within twenty-four hours after its notification should return to their homes, or otherwise they would be proclaimed rebels and traitors, and license would be given to all persons to slay them and inherit their property; but assuring the insurgents, nevertheless, that if they wished to say anything, or to present any request to the King they would be heard willingly, without hurt, provided they made their appearance as loyal subjects.[123]



(Tortorel and Perissin)

The prisoners confessed that in all the neighboring towns, viz., Blois, Orleans, Chartres, Chateaudun, and others, a great supply of arms had been made in secret, most especially of arquebuses, one of the men who were hanged having revealed that in one single house at Blois there were six large chests full of these. During the next three days nothing was attended to but fortifying the castle, repairing the weakest places around it, and making a trench in front of the principal gate, which opened on the country, in which some arquebuses and three or four small pieces of artillery found accidentally and brought there from neighboring places, were fixed. Round the town, besides cutting the bridges which were at its gates, except the principal bridge over the Loire, the moats were cleansed and restored, leaving but one gate open.[124] Scouting parties were daily sent out, and on March 19 a company of five fell in with an equal number of insurgents; after a long and stout fight the posse at length killed their commander and two of[38] his men and made the other two prisoners. One of those killed proved to be La Renaudie.[125]

But the Guises did not stop with these acts of punishment near by. Besides sending letters of authority to all bailiffs and seneschals ordering the arrest of all men, whether on foot or on horseback, to be found in the country surrounding Amboise,[126] Tavannes, on April 12,1560, was ordered to do the like in Dauphiné, being actually armed with lettres de cachet issued in blank.[127]

Few other disturbances developed except at Lyons, and in Provence and Dauphiné[128] but the government was anxious with regard to Gascony and Normandy, “their populations being much more daring,”[129] “The whole of Normandy is filled with Huguenotism,” wrote the Venetian ambassador, “the people by thousands sing every night until ten o’clock the Psalms of David and the[39] men-at-arms dare not touch them. The people of Dieppe every night in the market-place sing psalms and some days have sermons preached to them in the fields; in most towns in Normandy and many other places they do the same thing.”[130] In consequence of this state of things, the marshal de Termes was appointed with royal authority and full and absolute powers throughout the province summarily to confiscate, imprison, condemn and put to death whomsoever he pleased.[131]

In the end the government sent 1,200 of those implicated in the conspiracy of Amboise or under suspicion to execution. A morbid desire to witness the shedding of blood seized upon society, and it became a customary thing for the ladies and gentlemen of the court to witness the torture of those condemned after the manner of the auto da fé in Spain.[132] D’Aubigné[133] the eminent historian of the French Reformation, was an eye-witness of such incidents, and though but ten years of age, swore like young Hannibal before his father, to devote his life to vengeance of such atrocities.[134]




The insurrection of Amboise was not wholly displeasing to many even in the court. Huguenot dissidence and the discontent of many persons with the government gave the cardinal and the duke of Guise many troubled thoughts even after every external sign of disquiet had ceased. Strong suspicion rested upon the prince of Condé[135] who was forbidden to leave the court and so closely watched that he was afraid to speak to any of his friends. The Guises were in a dilemma, not having the courage to shed the blood royal,[136] yet, on the other hand, they feared lest, by letting their suspicion pass in silence, the prince might be rendered more daring and confident for the future.

So pointed did the accusation become that Condé finally demanded a hearing before the Council, where he cast down the gauntlet to the Guises, declaring that “whoever should say that he had any hand in conspiring against the King’s person or government was a liar and would lie as often as he said so;” he then offered to waive his privilege as a prince of the blood in order to have personal satisfaction and withdrew. But the cardinal of Lorraine, instead of accepting the challenge, made a sign to the King to break up the session.[137]

Antoine of Navarre had been in the south of France during these events but, nevertheless, he also did not escape suspicion;[41] a secretary of his who was staying in Paris to look after his affairs was searched and all the furniture of his house ransacked to discover incriminating papers, if possible.[138] The Bourbon prince was doubly alarmed at the suspicion of guilt because his name was associated with that of the English queen.[139] The king of Navarre may have had imperfect knowledge that something was in the wind when he left the court to visit his dominions in the south, but he was no party to the conspiracy.[140] Of Queen Elizabeth’s indirect participation there is no doubt at all. The belief prevailed in Paris that great offers had been made to the earl of Arran by Gascony, Poitou, Brittany, and Normandy, if he would lead an English descent into those parts,[141] and in the two last-named provinces English merchants and sailors animated the people to rebellion against the house of Guise by means of proclamations in the French language printed in England.[142] But if the Guises shrank from shedding the blood of the princes, they struck as near to them as they dared, by urging the pursuit of Visières, a former lieutenant of Montgomery, for whose apprehension, dead or alive, a reward of 2,000 crowns was offered,[143] and Maligny, a lieutenant of the prince of Condé.


Although the initial purpose of the conspiracy had failed, namely to take the King and drive out the Guises,[144] Condé and his followers did not fail to perceive that things were not entirely unfavorable.[145] Catherine de Medici, who while jealous of the position of the Guises in a place which naturally, and by tradition, if the regencies of Blanche of Castille and Anne of Beaujeu counted as precedents, belonged to her, had nevertheless sustained the drastic policy followed out after the execution of Du Bourg, in spite of the arguments of the admiral.[146] Now, however, she saw her opportunity to make head against the cardinal and his brother and played into the hands of Coligny and Condé.[147] She prevailed upon the King to send the[43] admiral upon a special mission to Normandy late in July, where he was expected to take the edge off the Marshal Termes’ conduct, and secretly abetted the faction of the constable.[148] The opportunity was the better to do these things owing to the death of the chancellor Olivier on March 27,[149] who had been an instrument of the Guises, and the queen mother was quick to seize it. The famous Michel de l’Hôpital[150] was immediately appointed to the vacancy. He was a man of great knowledge in the law and of great culture; at the moment he was president of the chambre des comptes and had been chancellor to Madame Marguerite of France, the duchess of Savoy (who had Protestant leanings, and had interceded for Du Bourg), and was a member of the conseil privé of the King. L’Hôpital’s accession was followed by the proclamation of letters of pardon to all recent offenders, provided they lived as good Catholics, the King declaring that he was unwilling to have the first year of his reign made notorious to posterity for its bloody atrocities and the sufferings of his people.[151] This was followed in May, 1560, by the royal edict of Romorantin, whereby the jurisdiction of legal processes relating to religion was completely taken away from the courts of parlement and from lay judges who had power to pass summary judgments, and was remitted to the ecclesiastical judges; which was interpreted as an assurance to[44] accused persons that they needed no longer fear the penalty of death, owing to the opportunity of delaying sentences by means of appeals from the acts and sentences of bishops to archbishops and from thence to Rome.[152] In August a supplementary decree ordered the bishops and all curates to reside at their churches, the bishops being prohibited in the future from proceeding against anyone in the matter of religion except the Calvinist preachers or persons in whose houses Huguenot meetings were held, the government thus tacitly permitting others to live in their own way, which was interpreted as a virtual “interim.”[153] The spirit of this legislation, as well as the skilful use of the law made therein, is certainly due to the heart and brain of the chancellor L’Hôpital, although Coligny is not without credit for his influence.[154]

These changes had the double effect, first, of persuading the queen to take the management of affairs upon herself and endeavor to remove the house of Guise from court; and second, in giving the Huguenots and their partisans the opportunity of strengthening themselves. The leniency of the government drew back into France numbers of those who had withdrawn, among them preachers from Geneva and England who gave new life to the party by exhorting them to continue their assemblies and the exercise of[45] their religion.[155] There was fear that the “interim” would be used by the Huguenots like the edge of a wedge to open the way to possess churches of their own, and such a demand was shortly to be made openly in the King’s council at Fontainebleau in August, 1560.

It was apparent that there was not a province which was not affected, and there were many in which the new religion was even spreading into the country, as in Normandy, Brittany, almost all Touraine, Poitou, Guyenne, Gascony, the great part of Languedoc, Dauphiné, Provence, and Champagne.[156] The “religion of Geneva” extended to all classes, even to the clergy—priests, monks, nuns, whole convents almost, bishops, and many of the chief prelates. The movement seemed to be widest among the common people, who had little to lose, now that life seemed safe. Those who feared to lose their property were less moved. But nevertheless all classes of society seemed deeply pervaded. While the “interim” lasted only those were punished who were actually preaching and holding public assemblies. The prisons of Paris and other towns were emptied, and in consequence there was a great number of persons throughout the kingdom who went around glorying in the victory over the “papists,” the name which they give their adversaries. To add to the discomfiture of the Guises, the breach between them and Montmorency was widened.[157] The duke of Guise had purchased the right of the sieur de Rambures to the county of Dammartin, not far from Paris, and adjacent to that of Nanteuil,[158] which the duke had shortly before acquired, the lower court of which was held in relief of Dammartin. In order to do so the duke of Guise had persuaded Philippe de Boulainvilliers,[46] who had lately sold the property to the constable, to rescind the contract which had been made, and sell it to him.[159] But the duke met with a straight rebuff, for when he sent word of the transaction, the constable answered by Damville, his son, that “as he had bought it, so would he keep it.”[160] The feud between the Guises and Montmorency naturally threw the “connestablistes” more than ever to the side of Condé. Damville was sent to the King and the queen mother, who were staying at Chateaudun, to inform them that the Guises were his declared adversaries, and then went to confer with the prince of Condé, whom he met, “environ le jour appelé la feste de Dieu au mois de Mai,”[161] between Etampes and Chartres, near Montlhéry, when on his way to Guyenne, to see his brother of Navarre. The Guises, who had information of the interview, enlarged upon the dangerous conduct of Condé and pushed the suit for the lands of Dammartin in the courts.[162]

Catholic zealots made much of the events of Amboise to enlarge the reputation of the Guises. “During the whole of this Passion week,” wrote the Venetian ambassador, “nothing has been attended to but the sermons of the cardinal of Lorraine, which gathered very great congregations, not only to his praise, but to the universal astonishment and admiration, both on account of his doctrines and by reason of his very fine gesticulation, and incomparable eloquence and mode of utterance.”[163]

On the other hand, those who abhorred him on account of religion and for other causes did not fail to defame him by libels and writings placarded publicly in several places in Paris, where they were seen and read by everyone who wished.[164] Scarcely a day passed without finding in the chambers and halls of the King’s own palace notes and writings of a defamatory nature abusing[47] the cardinal of Lorraine. In Paris the Palais de Cluny, belonging to the Guise family, full of furniture of great value, was nearly burnt by a mob.[165] In several places the cardinal’s painted effigy, in his cardinal’s robes, was to be seen, at one time hanging by the feet, at another with the head severed and the body divided into four quarters, as was done to those who were condemned. In the Place Maubert he was hanged in effigy and burnt with squibs.[166]

But worse disturbances than violent manifestoes disquieted the government. On June 1, 1560, the day of the Corpus Domini at Rouen, when the procession passed through the city with the customary solemnities, it was remarked that in front of a certain house before which the procession passed no tapestry or any other decoration had been placed. Villebonne, the King’s officer, “who on account of these disturbances about religion remained there,” perceived the omission and being suspicious of some clandestine meeting of the Huguenots, chose to verify the fact instantly. He attempted to enter the house by force, but met with such stout resistance on the part of its inmates that the procession was interrupted, and a great tumult arose, both sides having recourse to arms. After much fighting, each party having several wounded, at length with the death of some defenders of the house and after very great effort, the authorities quieted the uproar as well as they could. Next morning upward of 2,000 persons appeared before the royal magistrates, not only very vehemently to demand justice and satisfaction for the death of those persons who had been killed, but to present also the “Confession” of what they believed and the mode in which they intended it should be allowed them to live, demanding that the “Confession” should be sent to the King that it might be granted, and protesting that if on that account his[48] ministers proceeded against any of them by arrest or capital punishment or other penalty, they would put to death an equal number of Catholic officials of the government. The president and four councilors of the Parlement of Rouen journeyed to Paris to present the “Confession.” They assured the King that the whole of Normandy was of the same opinion as those who declared themselves. In its quandary the government blamed Villebonne, accusing him of too much zeal and inquisitiveness. Moreover, fresh commotions were heard of daily, and the government plainly feared some sudden attack like that of Amboise.[167]

The Guises plucked courage, however, from the fact that under the pretext of still preparing for the war in Scotland in support of Marv Stuart,[168] they could fill France with soldiery.[169] Months before the outbreak of the conspiracy of Amboise their agents had been at work in Germany, using French gold for the purchase of arms, ammunition, and above all, men, for Germany was filled with small nobles of broken fortune, vagabond soldiers,[170] and lansquenets ready to serve wherever the pay was sure and the chance for excitement and plunder good.[171]


On March 30, 1560, Guido Giannetti, Elizabeth’s secret agent at Venice, wrote to Cecil, “France will have enough to do in her religious wars that have just sprung up, which will be worse than the civil war of the League of the Public Weal, in 1465 under Louis XI.”[172] The prophecy soon became true. In spite of the formidable preparations made to continue the war in Scotland,[173] the more necessary since the death of the queen dowager of Scotland, news of which reached France on June 18,[174] France—or rather the French party in Scotland—on July 6, 1560, signed the treaty of Edinburgh, which, so far as the Guises were concerned, was the renunciation on their part of aggression abroad.[175] Nothing but the grave state of home politics could have induced the Guises so to yield the cause of their niece in Scotland.[176]

The Huguenot issue promised to come to a climax during the summer of 1560.[177] From all over France came reports of sedition and insurrection. The Protestants were masters of Provence.[178][50] The cardinal Tournon, returning from Rome, dared not bring with him the cross of the legation, for fear of its meeting with disrespect by the people of the places through which he would have to pass.[179] From another source came the report that “very free sermons have been delivered in the churches of Bayonne.”[180] The bishop of Agen wrote the council that all the inhabitants of that city were in a state of furious insurrection; that they went to the churches, destroyed all the images, and maltreated certain priests. The queen mother was mysteriously warned that unless she released certain preachers imprisoned at Troyes she would become the most unhappy princess living.[181] The Pope’s legate left Avignon in disgust at the license of the “Lutherans,”[182] and when the pontiff proposed to send thither the cardinal Farnese, who was willing to go provided a suitable escort of Italian and Swiss infantry was furnished, France refused to consent, being unwilling to allow a foreign prince to enter the kingdom on such a warlike footing.[183]

At the same time the personal attack upon the Guises became more venomous.[184] The enmity between the Guises and the house of Montmorency had become so open and proceeded so far, owing to the dispute about Dammartin, that it was expected they would take up arms. To crown all, the government received information through several channels of a design against the King and his ministers of worse quality than the recent Amboise conspiracy.[185] The information that came to light caused the greatest anxiety because this time the evidence seemed[51] strongly to compromise the vidame de Chartres,[186] and the prince of Condé.[187]

Although the war in Scotland was practically at an end, the[52] Guises had not relaxed their efforts to raise men and money.[188] Philip II, knowing what was in progress, seems to have made a partial offer of assistance. In July fifteen German captains were dispatched beyond the Rhine, each commissioned to bring back three hundred pistoleers for the King’s service;[189] letters were sent to the Rhinegrave and Duke John William of Saxony, urging them to form a league of the German princes and procure forces in case there should be need of them.[190] La Mothe Gondrin was sent into Provence and Dauphiné, and another agent into Champagne, on similar errands.[191] Fifteen hundred men with armor and munitions were sent to the castle of Guise.[192] The Guises even endeavored to effect a reconciliation with the constable through the mediation of the marshal Brissac.[193]

The prevailing alarm was not allayed by the admiral, Gaspard de Coligny, who at a full council meeting held at Fontainebleau, on August 20, 1560, presented two petitions,[194] one for the King, the other for his mother, asking the King, in the matter of religion, to concede the petitioners two places of worship in two parts of the kingdom for greater convenience, that they might there exercise their rites and ceremonies as private congregations, without being[53] molested by anyone, arguing that meetings in private residences would thus be obviated.[195] Coligny claimed to speak with authority, having been officially sent into Normandy by the queen mother to inquire into the cause of the disturbances there. A hot altercation ensued between the admiral and the cardinal of Lorraine. Coligny had prudently omitted signatures to the petition, but declared that he “could get 50,000 persons in Normandy to sign it,” to which the cardinal retorted that “the King could get a million of his own religion to sign the contrary.”[196] L’Hôpital, the chancellor, however, deftly diverted the discussion into a political channel by a long discourse[197] upon the condition of the realm, comparing it to a sick man, asserting that the estates were troubled and corrupt, that religious dissidence existed, that the nobility were dissatisfied, and concluded by saying that if the source and root of all the calamities visiting France could be discovered, the remedy would be easy.[198] In reply the cardinal of Lorraine offered to answer publicly for the administration of the finances and showed by an abstract of the government accounts that the ordinary expenses exceeded the revenue by 2,500,000 livres (over seven and one-half million dollars); his brother, the duke of Guise, as lieutenant-general, laid papers upon the table with reference to the army and forces of the kingdom.[199] An adjournment was then taken until August 23, when, upon reassembling, each member of the Council was provided with a memorandum containing a list of the topics which the crown wished to have debated.[200]

Montluc, the bishop of Valence,[201] as the youngest privy-councilor,[54] began the discussion when the Council reconvened.[202] But the speech of the occasion was that of Marillac, the liberal archbishop of Vienne, who, taking his cue from the chancellor, in a long discourse[203] enlarged upon the religious, political, and economic distress of France. His address is a complete statement of the Huguenot programme in church and state. He began by saying that the true “ancient and customary” remedy was a general council, but failing that, recourse must be had to a national council, and then proceeded to enumerate the things to be considered therein; first, the intrusion of foreign prelates—chiefly Italians—into French ecclesiastical offices,[204] “who fill a third portion of the benefices of the kingdom, who have an infinite number of pensions, who suck our blood like leeches, and who in their hearts, laugh at us for being so stupid as not to see that we are being abused;” secondly, he demanded that the clergy of France show by some notable act that they were sincerely bent upon reform and not merely seeking to fortify their prerogatives and privileges under the pretension of reform; and to this end the illicit use of money—“that great Babylonian beast, which is avarice, in whose path follow so many superstitions and abominations”—must be guarded against; thirdly, the wicked must make sincere repentance; fourthly, for the adjustment of the political and economic questions vexing the people the States-General must be convened. Then followed a statement of conditions: that the king must live upon the income of the royal domains, the spoliation of which should cease; that his wars be supported by the old feudal aids and not by recourse to extraordinary taxes.

This speech highly pleased the admiral, who added three points,[55] namely, that, a religious “interim” be officially granted until the findings of the Council of Trent, which the Pope was to be asked to reconvene; that in event of refusal to do so, a national council of the clergy of France be called in which the Huguenots should have a representation;[205] and that the number of guards around the court, “which were very expensive and only served to infuse fears and jealousies into the people’s minds” be reduced.[206]

The upshot of the conference was the resolution to call a meeting of the States-General for December 10 at Meaux (later changed to Orleans), and in default of the convening of a general church council, to convene a national body of the clergy at Paris on January 10, 1561, the long interval being allowed in order to permit the Pope to act.[207] In the meantime the status quo was maintained with reference to the worship of the Protestants, but for the sake of precaution, an edict was issued by which all subjects of the realm, whether princes or no, were prohibited from making any levy of men, arms, armor, horses, or moneys, on pain of being declared rebels against his majesty.[208]

There is no doubt that the resolution of the Council of Fontainebleau conformed to the conviction of a large element in France, the religious troubles having stirred up a strong demand for another general council of the church (the second session of the Council of Trent having been interrupted by the defeat of the emperor Charles V in the Smalkald war), or a national council, if the convocation of the former proved impossible.[209] Even the cardinal[56] of Lorraine, desirous of acquiring fame by reforming the church of France, urged the course, though it was hostile to the interest of the Holy See, until the development of events at home persuaded him to change his tactics.[210]

The project of a national council was not pleasing to the Pope, who cherished the hope of reconvoking the Council of Trent,[211] either in France, Spain, or Germany.[212] When the cardinal of Lorraine urged it, the Pope’s rejoinder was that he would not divide Christ’s garment.[213] The Holy Father was in a quandary, being unable with safety to grant a free council, or to refuse the general one. He wanted to regard the prospective council as a continuation of the Council of Trent, and not as a new council.[214] But there were political difficulties in the way of so doing, for not all the German princes were in favor of the decrees of Trent, and the Emperor was bound by his oath not to attempt execution of the decrees lest the princes of the Confession of Augsburg become alarmed for fear that the Emperor, His Catholic Majesty and the Most Christian King had formed a Catholic concert.[215] The Kings of Spain[57] and France, moreover, although in favor of the general council, had reservations of their own regarding the application of the Tridentine decrees.[216]

The matter of the council was of much importance to every ruler in Europe. France, although resolved to convene the national clergy if the Pope protracted things, nevertheless urged the latter to hasten to grant a free and general council, not only by means of the bishop of Angoulême, the French ambassador in Rome, and the cardinals, but also through Bochetel, the bishop of Rennes, ambassador to the Emperor, and Sebastian de l’Aubespine, the bishop of Limoges, ambassador to Philip II. The Venetian senate, too, was importuned to use its influence. But the Pope hesitated for a long time, because the secular governments and himself were divided upon the question as to whether such a council should be regarded as a continuation of the Council of Trent (as the Pope wished), or as a council de novo. The Pope was fearful of compromising the papal authority by admitting the French contention of an authority superior to himself, for this he could never grant, taking the ground that, whether present or absent, he was always the head of and superior to all councils. Finally, Pius IV, alarmed by the resolution of the French government to assemble a national council if the general council should not be held, both because it would diminish his authority and because, even though nothing should be resolved on in opposition to the see of Rome, yet the assembling of a council by France without its consent would be prejudicial, and might be made a precedent by other states, came to the conclusion that further delay was dangerous, and convoked the general council for Easter, 1561,[58] at Trent, “to extirpate heresy and schism and to correct manners,”[217] declaring that the canons of the church could permit of no other course.

The resolution of the French government had forced the hand of the Pontiff, who, however, consoled himself by the thought that either the national council would not now take place, or that the Guises would prevail in the States-General, so that the national council could be silenced, if held.[218] The Pope figured that he would force the Catholic princes to side with him, lest by hazarding a[59] change of religion in a national council they would also endanger their kingdoms. Philip II concurred in this belief. A king so orthodox as he had not failed to watch the course of the movement in France upon the ground of religious interests. But the Spanish King had also a political interest in France. His own Flemish and Dutch provinces were turbulent with revolt, and Granvella wrote truly when he said that it was a miracle that with the bad example of France, things were no worse in the Low Countries.[219] Accordingly, Philip II sent Don Antonio de Toledo into France to divert the French King from the idea of a national council.[220] The means of persuasion were readily at hand, for the French King was already far too compromised with Philip II to refuse his request. After the arrest of the vidame of Chartres, Francis II, in a long ciphered letter of August 31, 1560, to his ambassador in Spain, had besought the Spanish king to be prepared to assist him, in case it should be necessary.[221] To forefend the proposed national council, Philip II now offered at his own expense to give the French aid in suppressing all rebellion and schism.[222]


Warlike preparations accordingly went forward under cover of a proposed intervention in Scotland,[223] which the uncertainty regarding Condé and Antoine of Bourbon facilitated, for it was currently believed that both the king of Navarre and the prince absented themselves from court on purpose.[224] At the court the rumor prevailed that both were plotting recourse to arms, so much so that on September 2 the cardinal Bourbon was sent to them, desiring them in the name of the King to repair to the court, which, on the next day, was moved from Fontainebleau to St. Germain.[225] The marshal Brissac was transferred from the government of Picardy to that of Normandy, and Du Bois, master of the footmen, was instructed to conduct all the footmen he could levy with great secrecy into Normandy, while all the men in the ordinary garrison of Picardy and other frontier points were drawn in toward Orleans.[226] At the same time the Rhinegrave was notified to come, but met unexpected opposition.[227]


Parallel with these military preparations new financial measures were taken. On October 11, 1560, the King demanded 100,000 crowns (testons—a silver coin valued at ten or eleven sous; the amount was between $750,000 and $775,000) from the members of the Parlement, the provost, the chief merchants of Paris,[228] and “certain learned men of the Sorbonne.”[229] The Parisians murmured because they thought the military display was meant to intimidate them. In November the crown imposed 10,000 francs (approximately $7,500) upon Orleans and demanded 100,000 more to pay the troops.[230] Lyons furnished a loan[231] and money was also secured by confiscations from the Huguenots on the part of the local authorities in many places.[232]

In the provinces disturbances continued to take place.[233] In Amboise and Tours the people stormed the prisons and released all those who had been confined as agitators on account of religion.[234][62] The valley of the Loire seems to have been the storm center of these provincial uprisings, and in the middle of October[235] the king came hastily to Orleans with three companies of veteran infantry from the garrisons of Picardy.[236] It was now decided to convene the States-General at Orleans instead of Meaux.[237] On October 30 the prince of Condé, who all along had borne himself as if innocent and who came with his brother to Orleans, was arrested,[238] and the vidame of Chartres, who had been incarcerated in the Bastille, was sent for from Paris that he might be examined face to face with Condé.[239] Besides being accused of implication in the conspiracy of Amboise, he was accused of being the author of the recent insurrection at Lyons.[240]

A significant change was made in the provincial administration at this time. The Guises, having observed the dissatisfaction that prevailed because so many offices, dignities, and commissions had been distributed among them, in order to fling a sop to the princes of the blood and their faction, advised the King to create[63] two new governments in the middle of the kingdom in favor of the duke of Montpensier and his brother, the prince de la Roche-sur-Yon. In compliance with this suggestion the government of Touraine, to which province was added the duchies of Anjou and Vendôme and the counties of Maine, Blois, and Dunois, was created in favor of the former, and the government of Orleans, to which was added the duchies of Berry, the pays Chartrain, the Beauce, Montargis, and adjacent places, in favor of the latter. But the new office was reduced to a shadowy power by the revolutionary step of appointing provincial lieutenants over the governors, who were responsible to the duke of Guise as lieutenant-general of the realm, in this case the sieur de Sipierre being lieutenant in the Orléannais and Savigny in Touraine, each of whom was a servitor of the Guises.[241]

There is little reason to doubt that the Huguenots would have made a formidable revolt at this early day if they had been certain of effective leadership. But the cowardice of Antoine of Navarre, the logical leader of the party, prevented them from so doing. The great influence he might have exerted as first prince of the blood was in singular contrast with his weak character.[242] His policy, which he flattered himself to be a skilful one of temporization, was looked upon with contempt by the Huguenots, who despised him for weakly suffering his brother to be so treated and then added to his pusillanimity by foregoing his governorship of Guyenne, which was given to the marshal Termes.[243] In vain the Huguenot leaders urged upon him their supplications and their remonstrances;[244] in vain they laid before him the details of their organization;[64] that six or seven thousand footmen throughout Gascony and Poitou were already enrolled under captains; that between three and four thousand, both foot and horse, would come from Provence and Languedoc; that from Normandy would come as many or even more, with a great number of cavalry; that with the aid of all these he would be able to seize Orleans (thus controlling the States-General), and Bourges, with Orleans the two most important towns in central France. They assured him that thousands were merely waiting for a successful stroke to declare themselves and that money was to be had in plenty; for every cavalryman and every footman was supplied with enough money for two months and that much more would be forthcoming, provided only the king of Navarre would declare himself the protector of the King and the realm and oppose the tyranny of the Guises.[245]

This was the moment chosen by Catherine de Medici to assert herself. Hitherto, there had been no room for her between the two parties, each of which aspired to absolute control of the King. The queen mother had no mind to see herself reduced to a simple guardian of the persons of her children, utterly dependent upon the action of the council, without political authority nor “control of a single denier,”[246] and perceived that she might now fish to advantage in the troubled waters; to change the figure, she determined to play each party against the other[247] in the hope of herself being able to hold the balance of power between them. This explains her double-dealing after the conspiracy of Amboise, when she represented to Coligny that she wished to be instructed in the Huguenot teachings in order, if possible, that she might be able to discover the “true source and origin of the troubles,” and conferred with Chaudien, the Protestant pastor in Paris, and Duplessis, the Huguenot minister at Tours, at the same time also inquiring into the political claims of the Huguenots, having the cardinal of Lorraine concealed, like Polonius, behind the arras;[248][65] why, too, she used fair words at the conference at Fontainebleau and simultaneously saw Francis II write to Philip II asking for Spanish aid in the event of civil war.

The Venetian ambassador said truly that the famous Roman temporizer, Fabius Cunctator, would have recognized his daughter in this astute woman of Etruria.[249] For fear of being sent back to Italy or of staying in France without influence, she aimed to play the two parties against one another. She did not hesitate to hazard the crown in order to keep the government in her hands, although, as the Venetian ambassador said, “to wish to maintain peace by division is to wish to make white out of black.”[250]

The time was a peculiarly propitious one. With the prince of Condé out of the way[251] she counted upon the vacillation and hesitancy of the king of Navarre to keep the Huguenots from overt action, while the prospect of the coming States-General, which had grown out of the assembly at Fontainebleau, as the bishop of Valence had predicted,[252] filled the Guises with dismay, so much so that when the demand for the summons of that body began to grow, they had endeavored to persuade the King to ordain that whoever spoke of their convocation should be declared guilty of lèse-majesté.[253] The reason of their alarm is not far to seek. The demand for the States-General was the voice of France, speaking through the noblesse and the bourgeoisie. crying out for a thorough inquiry into the administration of the Guises and reformation of the governmental system of both state and church; as such it was a menace to the cardinal and his brother and in alignment with the demands of the political Huguenots. The costly wars of Henry II, the extravagance of the court; the burdensome taxation;[66] the venality of justice; the lawlessness and disorder prevailing everywhere; the impoverishment of many noble families, and the rise of new nobles out of the violence of the wars in Picardy and Italy, more prone to license and less softened by the social graces that characterized the old families;[254] the dilapidation of ancestral fortunes and the displacements of wealth; the religious unrest; the corruption of the church—all these grievances, none of which was wholly new, were piling up with a cumulative force, whose impending attack the Guises regarded with great apprehension.[255]

The administration of the cardinal of Lorraine and his ducal brother had not mended matters, but in justice to them it should be said that their ministry was quite as much the occasion as the cause of the popular outcry for reform. The evils of the former reign were reaching a climax which their haughtiness and ambition served to accentuate.[256] Misappropriation of public moneys, exorbitant taxation, denial of justice, spoliation of the crown lands, especially the forests, the dilapidation of church property, and the corruption of manners, were undoubtedly the deepest popular grievances. In the demand for redress of these grievances all honest men were united. In 1560 the cry of the Huguenots for freedom of worship was the voice of a minority of them only. Most Huguenots at this time were political and not religious Huguenots, who simply used the demand of the new religionists as a[67] vehicle of expression; this sentiment also for local risings to rescue arrested Calvinists, the participants in many cases being actuated more by the desire to make a demonstration against the government than by sympathy with the Calvinist doctrines.[257]

The debts of the crown at the accession of Francis II aggregated forty-three millions of livres,[258] upon which interest had to be paid, without including pensions and salaries due to officers and servants of the royal household, and the gendarmerie, which were from two to five years in arrears,[259] a sum so great that if the entire revenue of the crown for a decade could have been devoted to its discharge, it would not have been possible to liquidate it. The result was the provinces abounded with poor men driven to live by violence and crime, while even the nobility, because of their reduced incomes, and the soldiery on account of arrears of wages, were driven to plunder the people.[260] Even members of the judiciary and the clergy had recourse to illicit practices.[261] The regular provincial administration was powerless to suppress evils so prevalent, whose roots were found in the condition of society. It was in vain that the crown announced that it was illegal to have recourse to arms for redress of injuries and commanded the governors in the provinces, the bailiffs, seneschals, and other similar officers to stay within their jurisdictions and vigilantly to sustain the provost-marshals[68] in suppressing sedition or illegal assemblies. Some men thought the remedy lay in more drastic penalties and advocated the abolishment of appeal in criminal causes, as in Italy and Flanders.[262] But history in many epochs shows that the social maladies of a complex society cannot be so cured. Obviously the true remedy lay in searching out the causes of the trouble and destroying them, and this was the intent of the demand for the States-General.

The summons of the States-General of Orleans and the further act of the government in announcing that it would summon a national council of the French clergy to meet in Paris on January 10, 1561, unless the Council General was called in the meantime, were equivalent to promises that reform would be undertaken in both state and church. The double announcement was the simultaneous recognition of one necessity—reformation.




The prosecution of the prince of Condé and the vidame of Chartres was pushed during the month of November in order to overcome any Huguenot activity in the coming States-General.[263] The Guises assured both the Pope and Spain that their intention was, after the execution of the prince, to send soldiery into the provinces under the command of the marshals St. André, Termes, Brissac, and Sipierre, whose Catholicism was of a notoriously militant type, and thus either to crush the Huguenots, or drive them out of the country.[264] Condé claimed, upon the advice of his counsel, the advocates Claudius Robert and Francis Marillac, that as a prince of the blood he had to give account to the King alone and to judges suitable to his condition, as peers of France, denying the jurisdiction of the ordinary judges.[265] This the latter refused to allow, on the ground that there was no appeal from the King in council (which at least had been the practice of the crown since Francis I) because the judgment so given was an absolute declaration of the king’s pleasure; whereupon Condé, after the example of Marchetas, when condemned by Philip of[70] Macedon, appealed from the King in bad council to the King in good council. The prince, however, adhered to his claim, until by a subterfuge he was made, in a way, to commit himself; for at last he signed an answer to his counsel, Robert, whereby the prosecution gained a point prejudicial to him, although good lawyers affirmed that a defendant’s counsel could not be made his judge. Thereupon the government organized a court in which there was a sprinkling of peers, in order to seem to comply with the law.[266] Under such practices the judgment was a foregone conclusion, although even after being declared guilty, the general opinion was that the prince would not be put to death, but that the worst that could befall him would be imprisonment in the dungeons of Loches, where Ludovic Sforza died in the reign of Louis XII; or that he would be kept in confinement elsewhere pending greater age on the part of the king and new developments.[267]

What Condé’s fate would have been still remains a problematical question, for Francis II died at Orleans on December 5, 1560, and his death put an end to all proceedings against the prince.[268] The prince of Condé was released on December 24, and immediately[71] went to La Fère in Picardy.[269] The crown descended to the dead king’s younger brother, Charles IX, a boy ten years of age. His accession was not an auspicious one. Well might the Venetian ambassador exclaim: “Vae tibi terra cujus rex puer est.”[270] The execution of two Calvinists in Rouen on December 3 occasioned a riot during which the gates of the city were shut,[271] and at Bordeaux a serious insurrection of 1,200 persons had taken place in consequence of the arrest of Condé, so that the general pardon of religious offenders issued on January 3, 1561, was a wise step.[272] All the plans designed and prepared for execution at Orleans were broken by the death of the King. The Guises were furious.[273]

It was hoped that the new reign might be established tranquilly, without an appeal to arms, but there was much misgiving owing to “the bad spirit among the people on account of the religious question, and of their dislike of the existing government.”[274] Many had thought that in the event of the death of the king a general uprising might result throughout the realm, for religious and[72] administrative reform, since Charles IX, being a minor, would be placed under the guidance of the king of Navarre, the oldest and nearest prince of the blood, who by consenting to the demands of the Huguenots, either from inclination or from inability to repress them, would open the door to such a course. Others believed that the Guises would not be put down, but that with the military resources concentrated around Orleans, at their disposal, they would seek to overawe the opposition and retain their power, finding means, through papal dispensation, to marry Mary Stuart to the new king.[275] There was a third class who rightly surmised that the queen mother, if not able to establish the regency in her favor, would play the parties against each other in such a way as to be able to exercise large control herself. In pursuance of this double course, Catherine secretly incited the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé, giving out that the action lately taken against the latter had been by the advice of the Guises. At the same time she gave the Guises to understand that the hard feeling which the Bourbon princes felt for them was contrary to her wish and pleasure and that it was they who had sought to compel the Guises to render account of their administration.[276]. As the constable seemed to command the balance of power, both the queen mother and the Guises began to compete for his favor,[277] Catherine[73] overcoming her old enmity on account of her fear of the Guises.[278] Between the Guises and Montmorency the enmity was too great for any rapprochement, so that the Guises endeavored to counter the coalition of Catherine de Medici and the constable by overtures to Antoine of Navarre, whose own pliant nature readily yielded to their blandishments, telling him that Philip II probably would be inclined to restore his lost kingdom of Navarre or give him an equivalent in Sardinia, in the event of the adoption of a strong Catholic policy on his part.[279]

Catherine de Medici, however, by the promptness of her action, and perhaps not a little owing to the unpopularity of the cardinal of Lorraine,[280] got the better of the Guises, the government being organized around the queen mother and the three Bourbon princes, the king of Navarre, the cardinal of Bourbon, the prince of Condé the constable, the three Châtillons—the admiral Coligny, the cardinal Odet, and D’Andelot—the duke de Montpensier and the prince de la Roche-sur-Yon.[281] The duke of Aumale, the marquis of Elbœuf, the grand prior of France, and the cardinals of Lorraine and Guise, all brothers of the duke of Guise and the cardinal of Lorraine left the court at the same time,[282] but if the pride of the Guises was wounded, they did not show it. They were followed[74] by all the companies of ordinance, both cavalry and infantry, which had been sent to Orleans.

But Catherine de Medici looked farther than the present order of things and schemed to have the coronation effected as soon as possible, thinking that it would remove many difficulties alleged of the King’s minority[283] and make him of sufficient authority to appoint such governors as he pleased.[284] She found means to have it arranged in the Privy Council (March 27, 1561) that she and the king of Navarre, in the capacity of lieutenant-general, should rule jointly, the King’s seal being in the custody of both and kept in a coffer to which each should carry a different key. This astute move gave Catherine exclusive guardianship of the person of Charles IX, and assured her at least an equal power in the regency.[285] At the same time orders were given for the ambassadors and others who wished for audience to ask it of the queen mother through the secretaries.[286] By this new arrangement it became unnecessary to give account of one’s business first of all either to the cardinal of Lorraine or the constable, or to anyone else, as was usually done before; but at once to address the queen, who, should the matter need to be referred to the council, could propose it and give reply according to their decision. As not one of these[75] councilors was superior to another, the power was all in Catherine’s hands. She had played her cards well and had won. The duke of Guise ceased to be of influence at court and the constable “was satisfied to lose his authority in order to damage his enemies.”[287] France began to awaken to the fact that the queen who had led a life of retirement during her husband’s reign, in that of her son was evincing that capacity for public affairs which was an hereditary possession in her family. In her quality as queen mother, she kept the King well in hand. She would not permit anyone but herself to sleep in his bed-chamber; she never left him alone. She governed as if she were king. She appointed to offices and to benefices; she granted pardon; she kept the seal; she had the last word to say in council; she opened the letters of the ambassadors and other ministers. Those who used to think she was a timid woman discovered that her courage was great; and that, like Leo X and all his house, she possessed the art of dissimulation.[288]

The Huguenots had hoped for much politically from the sudden revolution, and looked forward to organizing the States-General, while the Catholics hoped that the precautions taken during the elections had insured the election of men opposed to any novelty in the matter of religion.[289] The first session took place on December 13.[290] L’Hôpital, the chancellor, made an eloquent and earnest plea in favor of harmony among the members, endeavoring to draw them away from religious animosities by pointing out the great necessity of administrative and political reform, urging that the root of the present evils was to be found in the miscarriage of justice, the burdensome taxes, the corruption of office, etc.[291]


He ascribed the religious inquietude to the degeneracy of the church and advocated thorough reform of it, saying that the clergy gave occasion for the introducing of a new religion, though he avoided entering into the matter of merit of its doctrines.[292] He pointed out the needs of France and the necessity for civil and religious concord, and, in the peroration pleaded for earnest, patriotic support of the boy-King, “for there never was a father, no matter of what estate or condition, who ever left a little orphan more involved, more in debt, more hampered than our young prince is by the death of the kings, his father and his brother. All the cost and expenses of twelve or thirteen years of long and continuous war have fallen upon him; three grand marriages are to be paid for, and other things too long to tell of now; the domain, the aids, the salt storehouses, and part of the taille have been alienated.”[293]

In spite of the efforts of the chancellor, however, to smooth the way, the ship of state encountered rough water at the very beginning. It was doubtful whether anything would come of the session, as the difficulties between the delegates were endless, partly from the diversity of their commissions and of the requests they had to make, partly from individual caprice. The commons and the clergy readily agreed to meet together, but many of the nobility made difficulty. Some of those of Guyenne and of some parts of Brittany, Normandy, and Champagne would not consent to treat with the government without a fresh commission, saying that their commission was to the late king, Francis II—an invention of those who were not satisfied with the present government[77] and disliked the queen’s supremacy.[294] Perceiving this obstacle, the queen sent for the president of La Rochelle and told him to have an autograph list made of all those who dissented and to bring it to her. But no one dared to be the first to sign this list. This was admirable adroitness on Catherine’s part. She was playing for a large stake, because if the estates treated with the new government, they would in a certain way approve its legitimacy by general consent.

Finally, after a week’s delay, during which the cahiers of the delegates were handed in and classified, deliberations were resumed. The three chief questions before the estates of Orleans were religion, the finances, and the regulation of the courts of judicature. The three estates in order, beginning with the commons, presented each its cause. The orator of the third estate, an avocat du roi at Bordeaux, demanded a general council for the settlement of religious controversy; the discipline of the clergy, whom he denounced in scathing terms; their reformation in manners and morals; revision of justice, and alleviation of taxes.[295] As a whole, the commons seemed to wish for a general pardon for all the insurgents, and that everybody should be restored to favor; that the election of prelates should be regulated, so as to insure the nomination of fitting persons to reform the life and customs of the clergy; and that the revenues of the churches should be limited to persons appointed for that purpose.[296]

The spokesman of the noblesse, one Jacques de Silly, sieur de Rochefort, invoked biblical authority, besides Assyrian and classical history, to prove that the nobility had been ordained of God and recognized by men of all times as the pillar of the state. The harangue was a carefully worded assertion of the political interests and claims of the nobility. Even religion was subordinated to their political ends, a written memorial being presented by some[78] of the nobles asking for leave for each great feudal proprietor to ordain what worship he might choose within his lands, after the manner of the settlement at Augsburg in 1555 (cujus regio, ejus religio).[297]


(Tortorel and Perissin)

The clergy naturally were in conformity with the canons and the Catholic ritual. They were declared to be “the organ and mouth” of France, much history and doctrinal writing being cited to prove their supremacy. Liberty of election in the matter of church offices, abolition of the abuse of the dîme, which, it was complained, had been extorted from the church, not once, but four, five, six, and even nine times in a year, and prelates put in prison for failure to pay, to the destruction of worship in the churches; suppression of heresy (thus early stigmatized as la prétendue réformation), and royal support of the authority of the priest-class, were the four demands of the clerical order.[298] The sittings were rendered less tedious by a bold attack made upon the persecution of religion by a deputy who demanded that the[79] Huguenots be permitted to have their own church edifices—a plea which was reinforced by a hot protest of the admiral Coligny against an utterance of Quintin, the clerical orator.[299]

As to religion, grave questions arose. Would the toleration of religion occasion civil war? Would it cause an ultimate alteration of the faith of France? Would it, finally, alter the state, too? The States-General refused to enter deeply into these problems. The petition of the Protestants was not mentioned.[300] In the end it was determined to grant a general pardon to all throughout the kingdom, without obliging anyone to retract, or to make any other canonical recantation—a proposal which was quite at variance with the constitution of the church and was regarded by Rome as exceeding the bounds of the authority of the King and his Council, cognizance of matters of this nature appertaining to ecclesiastics and not to laymen.[301] The pressure of the third estate as well as the influence of Coligny, L’Hôpital, and others, is discernible in this measure. For it had been determined in the Privy Council that should the Council-General not be held before June, the National Council would assemble in France. This could not be denied to the estates who demanded it; and this concession apparently at first caused all the three estates to agree not to renounce the old religion. To this must be added another reason, viz., that although the greater part of the clergy, more especially the bishops, approved the old religion, yet many of the nobility approved the new one.[302]


Even more favorable action toward the Huguenots might have been taken if Catherine’s caution and her fear of antagonizing the Guises too much had not acted as a restraint. The pardon of the government was theoretically not understood to be granted to those who preached the Calvinistic doctrine, nor to the King’s judges who had authority in the cities and provinces of France who espoused it. But it was tacitly admitted that no one was to be prosecuted for heresy on this account. In Orleans the people worshiped in Huguenot form and in Paris—wonder of wonders—Catholic preachers were admonished to cease inveighing against “Lutherans” and Huguenots, and not to speak against their sects or their opinions—an order generally interpreted as consent from the Privy Council for all to follow such opinions about faith as most pleased their ideas.[303]

A corollary to the question of religion was that touching the government of the church. Several excellent ordinances were passed for reforming the abuses of the church, particularly for preventing the sale of benefices. The election of the bishops was taken out of the King’s direct jurisdiction and remitted to the clergy, and to satisfy the people it was added that twelve noblemen and twelve commoners together with the governor and judges of the city in which a bishop was to be elected were to unite with the clergy in election, giving laymen the same authority as ecclesiastics. Another matter also was determined which was sure to displease the Pope, viz., that moneys should no longer be sent to Rome for the annates or for other compositions on account of benefices, on the ground that these charges drew large sums of money from the kingdom and were the cause of its poverty. Even the payment of the Peter’s Pence was resented by some. The bishop of Vienne publicly asserted that it was with astonishment and sorrow that he observed the patience with which the French people endured these taxes “as if,” said he, “the wax and lead of the King was not worth as much as the lead and the wax of Rome which cost so much.”[304] As it would have seemed strange were[81] the Pope not first informed of it, the estates elected one of the presidents of the Parlement to go to Rome to give an account to the Pope of the matter, not so much to ask it as a favor from the Pope as merely to state the causes which moved the government thus to decide. The strong inclination of many in France whose catholicity could not be impugned, to diminish the papal authority and assert the old Gallican liberties, is noticeable. Pontifical authority would have been quite at an end if the estates had determined to lay hands on the church property, as was desired by many persons.

The two other questions before the estates were those of justice and finance. In the matter of the former nothing was done. For although there was universal dissatisfaction, the issue was too complicated, as all judicial offices were sold, and in order to displace those who had bought them it would have been necessary to reimburse the holders, which could not have been done then. The chances, accordingly, were that the administration of justice was likely to go from bad to worse.[305]

The main work of the estates of Orleans had to do with the reorganization of the finances of the kingdom, the administration of which was intimately connected with the future government. The crown was over forty million francs (exceeding eighteen million crowns) in debt.[306]

It may be well at this point to give a short survey of the financial policy of the French crown during the sixteenth century. Under Louis XII the taille, which was the principal tax, and which fell upon the peasant, was reduced to about six hundred thousand écus, a sum little superior to the amount originally fixed under Charles VII. It was raised by Francis I to two millions. In the time of Louis XII the total revenue amounted to barely two millions;[82] his successor brought it up to five, the dîmes of the clergy being included.[307] When the expenses of the government came to exceed the receipts, Francis I had recourse to extraordinary measures, that is to say, to augmentation of the taxes, to new loans, or to new forms of taxation. In 1539 he introduced the lottery from Italy. These extraordinary practices were not submitted to any process of approval, not even in the pays d’état. Foreigners were astonished at the ease with which the king of France procured money at his pleasure. Francis I quadrupled the taille upon land, and even had the effrontery to raise it to the fifth power. In general the people paid without murmuring, although in 1535 an insurrection broke out at Lyons on account of an alteration in the aides demanded by the crown; and in 1542 there was a serious outbreak at La Rochelle owing to burdensome imposition of the gabelle.

The author of the new financial measures of 1539 was the chancellor Poyet, a man of ability, who owed his advancement to the favor of Montmorency. Several very excellent measures are due to him, pre-eminently numerous ordinances relating to the inalienability of the royal domain, which he promulgated as a fundamental law of the monarchy, a law which the weak successors of Henry II repudiated. He also endeavored to suppress dishonest administration in the provinces. Thus he called to account both the marshal Montjean, whose exactions in the Lyonnais produced wide complaint, and Galiot de Genoullac, the sire d’Acir, whose stealings were enormous. These measures would have had a salutary effect if the administration of justice had been independent and honest in France. Unfortunately Poyet’s reputation for integrity was not as great as it should have been in a minister, and his policy made him many enemies.

The incomes of Francis I, great as they were, did not suffice for Henry II, the renewal of the war continuing to increase his necessities. Under him the increase of the gabelle and the tithes and other special taxes brought the total of the revenues up to six and a half million écus, which did not yet save the King from[83] being reduced to the necessity of making alienations and loans, which reached on the day of his death fourteen millions of écus, about thirty-six millions of francs.[308]

The practice of the French government of making loans, a practice which has today become familiar to us on a colossal scale, both in Europe and America, antedates the Hundred Years’ War. St. Louis contracted various loans with the Templars and Italian merchants for his crusades.[309] Philip the Fair borrowed from Italian merchants, from the Templars, and from his subjects.[310] His war with Edward I of England and his enterprises in Italy increased the amount, so that his sons inherited a considerable public debt. The Hundred Years’ War enormously increased it. We have few means of knowing what rates of interest obtained upon most of the public loans of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but they were probably high in most cases. Charles VIII in 1487 fixed the rate of interest upon a loan made in Normandy at twelve deniers tournois for each livre, which would not be over 5 per cent. Seven years later, when he was preparing for the Italian campaign, a rate of two sous per livre obtained, which would be approximately equivalent to 10 per cent.

In the time of the direct Valois kings, most of the government’s loans were arranged in the provinces, as in Normandy and Languedoc. But, beginning with Francis I, the city of Paris became increasingly the place where the crown obtained financial aid, so much so indeed that the supervision of the rentes of the Hôtel-de-Ville became a separate administrative bureau of the royal treasury, although it must not be understood that the government’s operations were henceforth exclusively confined to Paris; for loans continued to be made wherever possible with towns, corporations,[84] the clergy, and private loan brokers and bankers. These rentes of the capital, it should be understood, were technically a substitution of the credit of the city of Paris for the somewhat dubious credit of the crown.[311] From that date (1522) forward in France, government loans took the form of perpetual annuities, payable at the Hôtel-de-Ville in Paris. But other cities, such as Orleans, Troyes, Toulouse, and Rouen, also furnished the King with money in the form of annuities.

Aside from Paris, the church of France was the grand pillar of the government’s finances, and as the initiation of the rentes is due to Francis I, so to this king also is the second expedient to be ascribed. In 1516, on the occasion of the concordat, Leo X allowed Francis I to exact a new tenth, theoretically to be distinguished from the dîme of the clergy of France, the pretext being a war projected against the Turks. The new tithe was levied by the King’s officers alone, on the basis of a grand survey of the property of the clergy (Description générale du bien d’église) made in this year. In this financial survey the tax or quota of each benefice and the total of the tithe in every diocese were indicated. Thenceforth it was easy for numerous tithes to be levied by the will of the King alone. However, in order to conceal the arbitrariness of this conduct, the crown sometimes indicated its purpose to Rome which issued the necessary validation, but more often the King addressed the clergy itself united in assemblies of the bishops at Paris and in provincial or diocesan assemblies. The consent of the clergy was nothing but a formality, for the royal authority fixed in advance the sum to be paid. The diocesan assembly had nothing to do but distribute the impost. This concession of the Pope was successively renewed, under different pretexts, for a number of years, under the name of a don caritatif, and was equivalent to another tithe, the practice, prolonged year[85] after year, at last hardening into a permanent form of taxation required of the clergy, so much so that under Henry II receivers of the “gift” were established in every diocese.[312]

Wastefulness and bad management characterized the reign of Henry II from the very first. The treasury was soon completely exhausted. A reserve of four hundred thousand écus d’or, which Francis I had amassed to carry the war into Germany, with little owing save to the Swiss, payments to whom Francis I had continued in order to prolong his alliance with them, was dissipated within a few months, and the government had resort to increased taxation and the creation of new taxes. The gabelle upon salt, from which Poitou, Saintonge, and Guyenne had hitherto been exempt, and which was now introduced into those provinces, raised a terrible revolt which was not crushed until much violence had been done and much blood shed. The renewal of the war against Charles V and the invasion of Lorraine, added to the insatiable demands of the court, required new financial expedients. Not less than eighteen times during the twelve years of the reign of Henry II were the échevins of Paris called upon to supply the King with sums of money. Four millions and a half were thus demanded of the capital. In order to obtain these sums, which the people refused to advance gratuitously, the King was forced to humiliate himself exceedingly. Thus in 1550, in a general assembly of the sovereign courts of the clergy and of the bourgeois it was reported that “the King, being obliged to give money to the English, and not having any money in his treasury except mutilated and debased currency which could not be recoined, is under the necessity of offering this debased and mutilated coin as security for a public loan.” As might be expected, this not very tempting offer did not entice the provost of the merchants, much to the chagrin of the King, who, however, consented to a short delay. But three years later Henry II was even less shameless. Although there was still just as much unwillingness on the part of the merchants of the city to take the King’s notes, this little difficulty was easily overcome by the King’s agents. If the money were not[86] forthcoming, the sideboards of the wealthy bourgeois of Paris contained enough gold and silver plate to answer the purpose, and an edict of February 19, 1553, ordered certain specified persons to bring to the mint their vessels of gold and of silver, for which the government issued its notes.

But Paris was not the only city which was almost incessantly called upon to supply the King’s needs. Each year, and even each month, was characterized by a new demand, and numbers of the cities of France were from time to time taxed for sums which were not secured, however, without resistance to the royal treasurers. Lyons, which was at this epoch the seat of a commerce greater even than that of Paris, was more often mulcted than any other in this way. Conduct so high-handed naturally resulted not only in creating bitterness against the government, but demoralized trade as well. The credit of the government depreciated to such an extent that the rate of interest rose as high as 14 per cent.[313] During the twelve years of Henry II’s reign a greater amount in taxes had been imposed upon the people of France than in the fourscore years preceding, besides which many of the crown lands had been dissipated. Naturally “hard times” prevailed.[314]


Some members of the States-General were for bringing the officers of finance to account and obliging them to submit the list of all the grants which had been made in favor of the great and influential at the court of Henry II. But the cooler element thought that this policy could not be followed out on account of the powerful position of those involved and that occasion for new[88] commotions only would ensue.[315] Instead, retrenchment was resolved upon. The stipends of the gentlemen of the King’s household and of the gens de finance were reduced one-half and all pensions were abridged one-third,[316] except in the case of foreigners in the King’s service, who were supposed to have no other source of income. This last provision created an outcry, on the ground that foreigners could only be so employed in time of war, save in the case of the Scotch Guard.[317] Even this was cut down, one hundred men-at-arms and one hundred archers being dismissed. The royal stables and mews were also broken up and the horses and falcons sold.[318]

Something more constructive than mere economy, however, was necessary, and the burden of paying the King’s debts fell heaviest upon the clergy. This was partly owing to the great wealth of the church; partly to the fact that the clergy had rushed in where others feared to tread, and, officiously asserting their superiority in matters of state as well as of church, had proceeded[89] to examine the royal accounts, which the nobles and the commons were too wary to inspect.[319] The nobles took the ground that they were not concerned in the matter of paying the King’s debts, claiming that they paid their dues to the crown by personal service in war time.[320]

As far back as the assembly at Fontainebleau far-sighted councilors of the king had pointed out that the revenues of the church would have to be made to do duty for the government, and intercourse with Rome had been under way looking to such an arrangement.[321] The Pope was not as bitterly opposed to such a policy as one might at first be led to think, for he was thoroughly frightened at the prospect of a national council of the French clergy being convened in France and was disposed to be accommodating. But of course a roundabout method had to be resorted to, for the church would not have suffered a barefaced taxation of ecclesiastical revenues by the political authority. The resulting arrangement was in the nature of a political “deal.” Upon the understanding that no French council should be convened, the French crown was permitted to appropriate three hundred and sixty thousand ducats per annum for five years from the incomes of the church,[322] the condition of the subsidy, theoretically, being that France was to maintain a fleet to serve against the Turks.[323]

When these things had been done and the King had received in writing the doléances and requests of the three orders, the States-General were prorogued[324] until the first of May, to meet at Pontoise[90] in order to complete the settlement of affairs,[325] for time was necessary to make the arrangements with the church, since the prelates present had not been commissioned to enter into such a compact.




The factional rivalry which had been engendered during the course of the session of the States-General at Orleans was so great that this discord, combined with the agitation prevailing on account of religion, seemed ominous of civil war, and “every accident was interpreted according to the passions of the persons concerned.”[326] The affair of the custody of the seal created bitter feeling for a time between the duke of Guise and the king of Navarre, until the former out of policy and the latter either from policy or lack of courage, affected to become reconciled. The Guises realized that they had suffered a serious blow politically through the death of Francis II and Catherine was shrewd enough to know that while she controlled the seal, she was the keeper of the King’s authority. The prince of Condé was a double source of friction. In the first place, his trial for treason was still pending before the Parlement of Paris.[327] The queen mother was anxious to have the cause settled out of court, for if condemned (which was unlikely) the whole Bourbon family would be disgraced as formerly through the treason of the constable Bourbon in 1527, and if acquitted, the prince would not rest until he had been avenged of his enemies. Accordingly, she caused a letter to be written in the King’s name instructing the Parlement to dismiss the case. But the mettlesome spirit of the prince resented this process, and his discontent was increased to furious anger when the duke of Guise recommended that all the evidence be burned and prosecution be dropped, although his opinion was that legally Condé could not be acquitted as the trial so far had proved him to have been implicated in the revolt of Lyons.[328] To both parties Catherine de Medici steadily replied that she had written the letter in order to adjust the affairs of the prince of Condé to his honor and to the satisfaction of all,[92] and that the seal was in her hands. On March 15 the prince was readmitted to the Privy Council; but the Parlement was not disposed to drop the case so easily and deliberated at length upon the matter, finally on June 13, going on record, in a delicately balanced pronouncement which was intended to please all parties concerned and satisfied none.[329]

A new source of friction was the vacant government of Champagne which the queen gave to the duke of Nemours. This offended Antoine of Navarre, because he wanted to have it conferred upon the prince of Condé.[330] To these dissensions, finally, must be added a recent ruling of the Privy Council, in compliance with one of the resolutions of the States-General, that all bishops, including the cardinals, were to return to their sees.[331] This regulation eliminated some of the leaders of both parties, the cardinal[93] of Lorraine on the one hand and the cardinal de Châtillon on the other, to the discomfiture of both parties. Only the cardinal Tournon, whose great age made him harmless and who really wanted to pass the rest of his life in retirement, and the cardinal of Bourbon whose easy disposition also made him harmless, were permitted to stay with the court.

Philip II of Spain had been an attentive follower of all that had happened in France since the early autumn of 1560 and had been kept thoroughly informed by his indefatigable ambassador. His disquietude over the death of Francis II and the new direction of affairs in France was so great[332] that in January Philip sent Don Juan de Manrique, his grand master of artillery, to Orleans, ostensibly to perform the office of condolence and congratulation,[333] but in reality to win over the constable, to harden the policy of the French government toward the Huguenots, to persuade it against the project of a national council,[334] and to promote Philip’s purposes[94] regarding the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots, to Don Carlos, Philip’s son.

Catherine de Medici soon divined both the purpose and the danger, and her alarm was correspondingly great, because the increasing confusion in the realm on account of religion every day made Spanish intervention more possible,[335] One of two results seemed certain to happen: either that things would end with the Huguenots having churches in which they could preach, read, and perform their rites according to their doctrine without hindrance, as they had temporarily obtained churches by the declaration of Fontainebleau, at the end of August, in compliance with the resolution presented by the admiral; or else that obedience to the Pope and to the Catholic rites would be enforced at the point of the sword, and a manifest and certain division in the kingdom would result, with civil war as the consequence. When Francis II died, a great number who had fled to Geneva and Germany after the conspiracy of Amboise came back to France. For the government of Charles IX had inaugurated the new reign by a declaration of toleration (January 7, 1561) which, although Calvin disapproved it,[336] may yet with reason be regarded as a liberal edict. The Protestants were not slow to profit by the change, and flocked back from Switzerland and Germany and resumed their propaganda, one phase of which was a vilification of Rome and the Guises to such an extent that the King protested to the Senate of Geneva regarding their abuse.[337] Paris soon abounded with Huguenot preachers from Geneva, who relied upon the division in the council or the protection of persons in power for the maintenance of the new edict.[338]


In some provinces, such as Normandy,[339] Touraine, Poitou, Gascony,[340] and the greater part of Languedoc, Dauphiné, and Provence, congregations and meetings were openly held. Guyenne save Bordeaux, was badly infected with heresy.[341] The new religion penetrated so deeply that it affected every class of persons, even the ecclesiastical body itself, not only priests, friars, and nuns, but even bishops and many of the principal prelates. Among all classes there were Huguenot sympathizers, the nobility perhaps more manifestly than any other class.[342] The congregations of Rouen and Dieppe sent to the King for license to preach the word of God openly. In Dieppe the Calvinists once a day met in a great house, “of men, women and children above 2,000 in company.”[343] There were Huguenot outbursts at Angers, Mans, Beauvais, and Pontoise, in April, and at Toulouse in June.[344] At Beauvais when the cardinal of Châtillon, who was bishop there, caused the Calvinist service to be conducted and communion administered in his chapel, “after the manner of Geneva,” the canons and many of the people “assembled to good numbers to have wrought their wicked wills upon the cardinal.” Some were hurt and killed in the trouble, and one poor wretch was brought before the cardinal’s gate and burned.[345] A similar riot took place in Paris, on April 28, in the evening, near the Pré-aux-Clercs.

As a result of these excesses things took a sterner turn. A new measure interdicted Huguenot meetings, even in private houses; and all persons of every condition in Paris were required[96] to observe the Catholic religion.[346] The attitude of Paris was ominous for the future. The populace was wholly Catholic and hostile to religious change,[347] and was strongly supported by the Sorbonne and the Parlement.[348] The Sorbonne freely let it be understood that it would never obey any order issued to the injury of the Catholic religion, asserting that whenever the crown changed faith and religion, the people were absolved from the oath of fealty and were not bound to obey.[349] The words “civil war” were on the lips of all who were attentively observing events. “Between the two parties, justice is so little feared,” wrote the duke of Bedford, “and policy has so little place that greater things are to be dreaded.”[350]

The responsibility for the government’s vacillation at this season is not to be imputed wholly to Catherine de Medici.[351] It is to be remembered that France was under a double regency, and that the weakness of the king of Navarre materially embarrassed affairs. At this moment he seemed to be inclined toward the faith of Rome in the hope of conciliating Philip II of Spain, in order to recover the kingdom of Navarre. The Spanish ambassador and the Guises naturally made the most of his aspiration, the former telling Antoine that although it was impossible to obtain what he claimed from His Catholic Majesty by mere force, he might make a fair agreement with Philip by maintaining France in the true faith.[352]

During these months of tension and tumult, the ambassador[97] worked out a scheme, which in principle was that of Philip II, but the details were of Chantonnay’s own arrangement. The aim was to form a group of influential persons at the court, who should begin by complaints of the government’s policy and then proceed to threats and dark hints of the displeasure of Spain, finally presenting a bold front to Catherine, and compelling her to abandon her policy of temporizing and moderation. The constable Montmorency was the objective leader of this cabal, and his persuasion to the enterprise was one of the secret purposes of the mission of Don Juan de Manrique. While this envoy bore letters expressing Philip’s esteem to all the most notable Catholics at the French court, there was a distinction between them. The king of Spain wrote in common to the duke of Guise, the constable, the duke of Montpensier, the chancellor, and the marshals St. André and Brissac,[353] and a joint note to the cardinals of Lorraine and Tournon.[354] But Montmorency and St. André each also received a separate letter. The discrimination shows the wonderfully keen penetration of Philip’s ambassador, for these two were destined to be two of the three pillars of the famous Triumvirate.[355] In reply the cardinal of Lorraine hastened to inform Philip II of his deep interest in maintaining the welfare of Catholicism.[356] But it required time and adroitness to overcome the constable’s prejudice against Spain, and his attachment to his nephews.[357]

In the meantime, before the constable was persuaded, the cabal made formidable headway by winning Claude de l’Aubespine to its cause. This paved the way for an action which, if Catherine de Medici could have known it, would have thrown her into consternation indeed. For Claude de l’Aubespine’s brother Sebastian, the bishop of Limoges, was Charles IX’s ambassador in Spain. On April 4, 1561, the latter addressed a secret letter to Philip II[98] of Spain describing the turmoil in France and thanking him, in the queen’s name, for the “bons et roiddes offices” of Chantonnay.[358]

Coincident with this event, things in France had come to a head precisely as Philip and his ambassador had planned to have them. At this juncture Montmorency took a decisive stand. When the constable saw that meat was being freely eaten during these Lenten days; that Protestant service was held in the chambers of the admiral and the prince of Condé; that Catherine de Medici invited Jean de Montluc, the heretic bishop of Valence, to preach at court on Easter Sunday, the old warrior’s spirit rose in revolt. In vain his eldest son, the marshal Montmorency, pleaded that his father’s fears were exaggerated and his prejudices too deep-seated. The old man was firm in his convictions, in which he was sustained by his wife, Madeleine of Savoy, a bitter adversary of Calvinism.[359] Moreover, the political as well as religious demands of the Huguenot party, especially the demands of certain of the local estates, which advocated drastic reform, alarmed him. The whole power of the political Huguenots was directed against the constable, the duke of Guise, the cardinal of Lorraine, and the marshals Brissac and St. André, the leaders of the party being determined to call them to account for their peculations during the reign of Henry II and his successor, and to force them to surrender the excessive grants which had been given them.[360]

On the evening of April 6, 1561, Montmorency, after having expostulated with the queen, invited the duke of Guise, the duke de Montpensier the prince of Joinville, the marshal St. André, and the cardinal Tournon to dine with him. In his apartments[99] that famous association named by the Huguenots the Triumvirate, in which the constable, Guise, and St. André were principals, was formed.[361]

The preparations of the Guises during the former year enabled the Triumvirate rapidly to lay its plans. Spanish, Italian, German, and Swiss forces could be counted upon and procured within a very short time. These forces were to be divided under the command of the duke of Aumale and the three marshals, Brissac, Termes, and St. André. In order to support these troops, the Catholic clergy were to be assessed according to the incomes they enjoyed; cardinals 4,000 to 5,000 livres per annum; bishops 1,000 to 1,200; abbots 300 to 400, priors 100 to 120; and so on down to chaplains, whose annual stipend was but 30 livres, and who were only assessed a few sous. But as some immediate means were necessary, the gold and the silver of some of the churches, and the treasure of certain monasteries was to be appropriated at once, receipts being given for the value of the gold taken, and promise being made that reimbursement would be made shortly out of the confiscations made from the heretics.[362]

Catherine de Medici’s plan to govern through the constable Montmorency and the admiral,[363] leaving Antoine of Navarre only nominal authority, received an abrupt shock when the Triumvirate was established. Her policy partook of both doubt and fear, and vacillated more than ever.[364]

But more formidable than the project to organize insurrection at home, thus promoted by the Triumvirate, was the foreign policy it adopted. The Triumvirate formally appealed to Philip II for[100] aid.[365] The response was not slow in forthcoming, though the royal word was prudently couched in vague terms.[366] To make matters worse, Antoine of Navarre inclined more than ever toward the faith of Rome in the hope of conciliating Philip II of Spain.[367]

To a man less vain and gullible than Antoine of Bourbon such a proposition, upon its very face, as the restoration of Navarre, would have appeared to have been preposterous. Aside from the blow to its prestige which any loss of territory entails upon a nation, it is only necessary to look at the position of Spanish Navarre to perceive that Spain could better afford to lose a war abroad than to part with this key to the passes of the western Pyrenees. There is no need to relate at length the story of Antoine’s alternate hopes and fears, of his great expectations, and of the empty promises made him.[368] The office Antoine held, not the man, made him important to France and Spain. For this reason, he was alternately wheedled and cajoled, mocked and threatened, for more than a year; and all the time the pitiable weakling shifted and vacillated in his policy.[369] It is amazing to see how successfully Antoine was led along by the dexterous suggestions of Chantonnay, and the evasive answers of Philip II. It was a delicate game to play, for there was continual fear lest he would discover that he was being made the dupe of Spain, and prevail upon the queen mother and the prince of Condé to join him in avenging his wrongs, a not impossible development,[101] as Granvella observed, “considering that prudence does not always preside over the actions of men.”[370]

The game was the more difficult because Antoine wanted the restoration of his kingly title more than anything else. If he had been willing to become vassal to Spain, as Chantonnay said to St. André, there were a thousand ways to satisfy him. But Spain could not think of alienating any of her provinces, least of all any frontier possession like Navarre or Roussillon.[371] Time and again the prince of Condé told his brother he was a fool to be so wheedled, and Jeanne d’Albret sarcastically said that she would let her son go to mass when his father’s inheritance was restored.[372] When the game was likely to be played out, and Antoine, discovering that fine words did not butter parsnips, began to complain or boldly to bluster,[373] a possible substitute for the kingdom of Navarre which Antoine did not want to hold as a Spanish dependency[374] was suggested. At one moment it was Sienna; at another the county of Avignon; at a third the crown of Denmark—to be gotten through the influence of the Guises. The most alluring offer in Antoine’s eyes, however, was Sardinia.[375] In return for the crown of Sardinia,[102] Antoine was willing to leave all the fortresses of the island in Spain’s possession; and to put his children in Philip’s hands as hostages.[376]

This digression has somewhat anticipated the progress of events. Charles IX had been crowned at Rheims on May 15 (Ascension Day).[377] The declared majority and the coronation of her son seems to have given Catherine new courage, for in spite of the menace implied in the formation of the Triumvirate, she still labored in the interest of the Huguenot cause. On June 13, as we have seen, the definite exoneration of the prince of Condé was pronounced by the Parlement of Paris,[378] and in the following[103] August an outward reconciliation, at least, was effected between the prince and the duke of Guise.[379]

Encouraged by the positive attitude of the queen mother and the vacillation of the king of Navarre, the Huguenots urged the cause of toleration and presented a request to the King on June 11, 1561, through the deputies of the churches dispersed throughout the realm of France.[380] They declared that the reports of their refusing to pay the taxes and being seditious were false and calumnious; they begged the King to cause all persecutions against them to cease; that he would liberate those of them who were in prison, and that he would permit them to build churches as their numbers were so great that private houses would no longer suffice; finally offering to give pledges that there would be no sedition in their assemblies, and promising all lawful obedience.

The queen mother referred this petition to the Privy Council, but as it involved so important a matter the council was of opinion that it ought to be laid before the Parlement as well as to be considered by the princes of the blood and all the peers and councilors of the Court of Parlement.[381] The Catholic party was quite willing to have this course followed, feeling confident that the Parlement in its official capacity would refuse to register an edict for such purpose. But L’Hôpital[382] and Coligny had hopes that the interest and authority of the princes of the blood and other persons of influence might carry it through the Parlement after all.[383] However, in the end nothing positive was concluded, final resolution being deferred until a colloquy of the bishops and other clergy, who were convoked at Poissy, near St. Germain, for the end[104] of the month, took place.[384] Meanwhile a tentative ordinance—the Edict of July, similar to the Edict of Romorantin—was to obtain. This gave the church, as before, entire cognizance of the crime of heresy and deprived the Parlement, the bailiffs, seneschals, and other judges of any jurisdiction. In every case local ecclesiastical courts had to act first; banishment was to be the severest punishment for heresy; false accusers were to be punished in the same way that the accused would have been if really guilty; amnesty was granted for past offenses; and firearms were forbidden to be carried in towns or elsewhere, with certain exceptions, under a penalty of 50 gold crowns.[385] Within a short time, accordingly, the Protestant assemblies appeared as frequently as before, although the Calvinist clergy seemed to have become more discreet in their utterances.[386]

This cleverly designed edict, while seeming to pronounce judgment, really avoided the question at issue. There was sufficient leeway still for the holding of Protestant assemblies, and moreover, even though ecclesiastical affairs were to be referred to the spiritual courts, the Huguenots were protected by a saving clause (except for offenses cognizable by the secular power).[387] Such qualified[105] toleration, so guardedly given, was probably all that might with safety have been granted to the Huguenots at this early date. But they were far from seeing things in this light. The hotheads among them, in their meetings and in public places, used the most violent language in detraction of the Catholic church and its sacraments.[388] In some places popular feeling against priests was so strong that they were compelled, for the safety of their lives, to disguise their costumes and not to wear the clerical habit abroad, nor long hair, nor have the beard shaved, nor exhibit any other mark which would indicate that they were priests or monks.[389]




In the summer of 1561, France saw two separate assemblies convene: the adjourned session of the States-General at Pontoise and the conference of the leaders of the two religions at Poissy. In a sense the cause of the political Huguenots was represented in the former, that of the religious Huguenots in the latter, although the deliberations of the two assemblies were finally combined in an instrument known as the Act of Poissy. The elections in the provinces, each of which sent up two[390] representatives from each bailiwick of the kingdom, had enabled the opposition to go on record,[391] so that the crown had early intimation of the sort of legislation that was likely to be demanded. The business of the estates was[107] to find a way out of the financial difficulties which overwhelmed the King.[392]

The spokesman of the third estate, one Jean Bretaigne, mayor of Autun, after a tedious prologue copiously laden with biblical and classic lore, at last came to the pith of things: he summed up in a paragraph of portentous dimensions the burden imposed upon the people by war and the extravagance of the court during the past twenty years, declaring that the people were so penniless that they had nothing to give the King, “save a good and loyal will.” Things had come to such a pass that mere economy and retrenchment, nor even an honest and effective administration, although that was demanded and was promised by the King, could save the future.[393] The immense resources of the clergy must be made to restore the dilapidated finances of the monarchy; the church must come to the material rescue of the state, as in the days of Charles Martel. The entire revenue he argued, must be taken of all offices, benefices, and ecclesiastical dignities not actually officiated either in person or in a titular capacity, the Knights of Rhodes and the Hospitalers of St. James included; all the fruits, also, of benefices in litigation which the collators were accustomed to take during the time of litigation should be appropriated by the state, as well as the moneys of deceased bishops and monks. Moreover, one-quarter of the income should be taken of all beneficiaries actually resident in their benefices, in cases where the revenue was from 500 to 1,000 livres; of those having a revenue of 1,000 to 3,000 livres, one-third; of those with incomes running from 3,000 to 6,000 livres, one-half; of those ranging from 6,000 to 12,000 livres, two-thirds. Those of the clergy whose incomes exceeded 12,000 livres and above were to be permitted to retain 4,000 livres, the surplus being applied to liquidate the King’s debts,[108] save in cases where the beneficiaries were bishops, archbishops, primates, and cardinals, to whom 6,000 livres revenue was to be allowed. As to the monastic orders, their whole treasury and revenues were to be appropriated, save enough for their support, for the maintenance of their buildings, and for charity. And this was not all: all houses, gardens, and real property within either cities or faubourgs not actually employed for ecclesiastical uses, were to be confiscated by the government; the clergy were to be made to pay taxes upon the rich furniture and works of art or adornment given them to enjoy either for a length of years or in perpetuity. Finally, all lands providing revenues, either in money or in kind, as oil, wine, and grain, in case of being let to contract or change of control, were to be declared redeemable. If these measures should prove insufficient, then recourse must be had to more drastic means, namely the direct sale of the property of the church. Twenty-six million livres’ worth of this could be readily sold, the speaker argued, which would be no more than one-third of the church’s possession; the remainder should be administered by a trustworthy commission, which, after paying the stipends of the clergy in the amounts above indicated, should devote the balance to the payment of the debts of the crown.[394]

This formidable programme, which suggests the policy actually followed by France in 1789, in spite of the hot declaration of the constable that the speaker presenting it ought to be hanged,[395] proved so reasonable that the government, without going to the extreme proposed, saw that the moment was a favorable one to secure important aid from the clergy. The clergy, on the other hand, were sharp enough to see that in order to save their property, they would have to make sacrifice of a portion of it. At first they offered the crown a bonus of ten million livres, which it refused as being too small a sum, and demanded a greater subsidy.[396] A temporary settlement at last was made on the basis of 1,600,000[109] livres annual revenue to be levied upon the vineyards of the clergy, in order to relieve the King’s present needs.[397] But something more fundamental than this had to be done, for these measures only supplied the King with funds for current expenses, and did not admit of redemption of the debt or resumption of the crown lands, which had been mortgaged for about thirty millions of francs. This matter was the subject of investigation and debate through the ensuing November and December. Finally, a scheme was worked out whereby the royal domain was all to be redeemed by the clergy within six years, and the remainder of the debt to be discharged within another six.[398]

The contract of Poissy-Pontoise presents two important stipulations: one, a gift of money to the King; second, the repurchase by the clergy of the domains of the crown and the redemption of the debt. If this contract had been observed, it would have rendered the other assemblies of the clergy useless, but the failure to execute it made necessary the subsequent assemblies of 1563 and 1567, which established a rule of periodicity, as it were, and fixed the next session at 1573. By 1567, the clergy had fulfilled its first obligation and declared itself ready to resume the second by giving to the provost of the merchants and to the échevins of Paris the guarantees desired for the redemption of the rentes. But the King at the same time insisted upon the continuation of the subsidy of 1,600,000 livres. The clergy protested, demanding his adherence to the contract of Poissy. The crown enforced continuation, but as “an easement” waived claim to the “secular tithe” heretofore exacted, and granted to the clergy, for the first time, the right to collect taxes by its own agents, and the right to judge in a sovereign capacity all cases which might arise from these financial matters. The government observed this convention no better[110] than the first, and in addition to extraordinary subventions—two million livres in 1572, nearly half of which was squandered by the duke of Anjou in Poland—resorted to compulsory alienations of church property, as in 1563, 1568, 1574, which were made upon order of the King, without recourse to papal affirmation. Purchasers were not wanting for the new credit. The rate of interest fell to 5 per cent. in the autumn of 1561 as a result of these expedients, and, provided civil war could be averted, it seemed probable that the dilapidated finances might be rehabilitated.[399]

Simultaneous with the sitting of the estates at Pontoise to settle the financial issue, the religious issue was being debated by the doctrinal leaders of Catholicism and Calvinism, at Poissy.[400] This solemn assembly had been summoned in June to meet on the second of the following month,[401] in spite of the opposition of the clergy and Spain, who warned Catherine that such a concession would lead to disaster.[402] But delay ensued, and the assembly did not actually convene until September, for the members were slow in coming.[403] The conditions governing the meeting at Poissy were published in council on August 8, namely, that the clergy should not be umpires; that the princes of the blood should preside at the disputation, and that the different proceedings should be faithfully recorded by trustworthy persons.[404] With respect to the other matters the Calvinists were required to make some concessions[111] in order to avoid the reproach of seeming to evade the colloquy. While awaiting the formal opening of the conference at Poissy, Beza was invited by the court to speak before the King, the queen mother, the king of Navarre, and the Council. He was listened to with great attention by all until he began to deny the Real Presence, when the Catholic party tried to stop his address, exclaiming that it was blasphemy, and Beza and his partisans would certainly have been ejected if their opponents had not been restrained by the royal authority and compelled to listen to the end. At its conclusion the cardinal Tournon exhorted the King to continue firm in the faith of his ancestors,[405] and not to permit France to be reduced to the Swiss cantonal system.[406]

Many of the clergy said that it was not pertinent for the colloquy to determine these points, but that it was for the General Council to decide; moreover, it was argued that as the delegates of the Spanish clergy would shortly be coming through France on their way to Trent, why should not they assist as well as the others?[407] Catherine, it is said, had intended that there should be no disputation about dogma. But there is some reason to believe that she confounded dogma with the rites and observances of the church,[408] and it is certain that the Huguenots were determined to push their privilege of free speech to the very limit. Indeed, the conditions predicated by Beza formed the substance of a petition presented by the Reformed leaders to Charles IX.[409]

When the conference met a great attempt to maintain secrecy[112] was made. No one was permitted to enter except those who had been formally appointed;[410] the duke of Guise carried the keys to the conference hall, and careful search was made at the beginning of each sitting to find any who might be hid.[411]

The principal points in dispute turned upon the use of images; the administration of the sacrament of baptism; the communion; the mass; the laying-on of hands and the vocation of ministers, and finally the consideration of a possible accord in doctrine, in which points the usages of the primitive church and the reasons of separation were involved.[412]


(Tortorel and Perissin)

On the second day of the conference (September 16) the cardinal of Lorraine spoke, dwelling upon these principal points: first,[113] that the King, being a member of the church and not its head, could not set himself up as a judge in matters of religion and faith, but was subject to the church like every other Christian; second, the definition of the authority of the church was extended even over princes.[413]

Before long, however, it became evident, both that the attempt to reconcile the Catholic and the Calvinist parties was an impossibility, and that the government’s policy of accommodation was exciting discontent.[414] The demands of the Huguenots, based on Beza’s arguments, were as follows:

1. That bishops, abbots, and other ecclesiastics should not be constituted in any way judges of the Huguenots, in view of the fact that they were their opponents.

2. That all points of difference be judged and decided according to the simple word of God, as contained in the New and Old Testaments, since the Reformed faith was founded on this alone, and that where any difficulties arose concerning the interpretation of words, reference should be made to the original Hebrew and Greek text.[415]

This second article was a rock of contention from the very beginning. The whole Catholic doctrine of tradition having equal weight with Scripture was denied in this article. It was manifest, indeed, from the first that three things would not be suffered to be considered: (1) a change of religion; (2) the authority of the Pope; (3) the possible alienation of church property.[416] This state[114] of things, together with the fact that the prolongation of the session entailed great expense,[417] brought about a change of plan. Five persons, the bishop of Valence, the archbishop of Sens, and MM. Salignac, d’Espence, and Boutellier, were appointed by the queen and agreed to by the clergy, to confer with five representatives of the Calvinists, viz., Peter Martyr,[418] Beza, De Gallars, Marborat, and D’Espine.[419] Within ten days more the prelates and ministers had ceased to confer and were taking their departure.[420] The assembly of Poissy dissolved of itself on October 18, having accomplished nothing,[421] except doctrinally still further to disunite the Protestant world, which otherwise might possibly have had a council of its own, composed of French, Scotch, English, Germans, Danes, Swiss and Swedes, to face the Council of Trent.[422]

Two days later the cardinal and the duke of Guise departed from the court, in spite of the urgency of the queen mother to have them remain, accompanied by the dukes of Nemours and Longueville and other great personages and mustering six or seven hundred horse. Outwardly there was no sign of disaffection. Immediately afterward the constable also left, expressing dissatisfaction with the tolerant policy of the government. It was plain[115] throughout the proceedings at Pontoise (and at Poissy) that the chancellor of France, L’Hôpital, and the admiral, had the chief direction of affairs in their hands, although the queen mother and the king of Navarre had the greater show of authority.[423]

The Vatican had been an anxious observer of affairs in France, and early in June, 1561, the Pope had resolved to send the cardinal of Ferrara, Hippolyte d’Este, to France as legate.[424] The principal points of his mission to the French court, where he arrived on September 14, were to entreat the French crown that the annates might still remain as the Pope’s revenue; that there might be no change of religion and observance in the church; to solicit the King to recognize the Council of Trent and to break off the colloquy at Poissy.[425] But when the legate presented his credentials, at the instance of the chancellor, who impugned his powers, the estates protested against the entry of any of the Pope’s bulls or letters without the King’s consent and seal.[426] The Parlement of Paris[116] went even farther, and refused to confirm the King’s letters-patent. But the King’s council overrode this resolution, and recognized the legate’s credentials, although L’Hôpital steadfastly refused to affix the seal of state to the council’s action.

The cardinal began his negotiations by offering on the part of the Pope to resign the tenths and subsidies exacted by the church, and promising all the help His Holiness could give with honor, on condition that the resolution of the estates of Orleans, prohibiting payment of the annates, which the estates of Pontoise had reasserted, should not be executed. The nuncio argued that this action was a violation of the concordat of 1516, and that the principle in the case had been decided by the council of Basel, and accepted by Charles VII in the Pragmatic Sanction. Accordingly, the nuncio asked for a revocation of the actions taken touching the property of the church, and that things be restored to the state in which they originally were.[427] But the cardinal’s arguments were of no effect. The execution of the new law went forward. The first province where it was applied was Guyenne—within the government of the king of Navarre, then Touraine, and the Orleannais.[428]

An even more interested observer, perhaps, of French affairs than the Pope, was Philip of Spain. The progress of heresy in France, the seizure of the property of the church there, the attitude of the French crown toward the Council of Trent, the uncertainty of Antoine of Bourbon’s conduct—these were all disquieting facts to the Spanish ruler. Philip curtly told Catherine and her son that her government must abandon its policy of weakness and dissimulation, that too many souls were being imperiled by her course, and that coercive measures must be used.[429] The duke of[117] Alva had the boldness to declare that unless the government of France revived the rigorous suppressive measures of Henry II, and punished every heretic, His Catholic Majesty was resolved to sacrifice the welfare of Spain and even his own life in order to stamp out a pest which he regarded as menacing to both France and Spain.[430] Singly and together the bishop of the Limoges (who was still at the Spanish court) and D’Ozances, while deploring the malice of the times and “the disasters of which everyone knew,” tried to justify their government on the ground that Calvinism had become a necessary evil in France and that it was better to give it qualified toleration than to plunge the country into fire and war. They pointed to the deliberations of the assembly of Fontainebleau, to the States-General of Orleans, to the arrêts of the Parlement, and the findings of Pontoise and Poissy in proof; they asserted that the queen mother and the king of Navarre—they were cautious not to style him thus in Philip’s presence, however—were “of perfect and sincere intention” not to let heresy increase in France; “the scandal and outrage” of heretical preaching never would be permitted in Paris or at the court, although it was necessary to permit the Protestants to have their own worship outside of some of the towns; that the purpose of the crown was fixed never to change or alter the true religion; that France was not hostile to the Council of Trent, but in her distress was naturally impatient; and finally they importuned the king of Spain not to show his anger, but to give “advice and comfort” for the sake of the friendship which existed between their country and his, and for the repose of Christendom.[431]


The appeal fell upon deaf ears. Philip coldly replied that it was useless for France to expect the advice or assistance of Spain so long as her government tolerated heresy in any degree whatsoever; that those at the court who were Huguenots, like the admiral and the prince of Condé, should be sent away forthwith, and all others should be coerced; that from the point of view of religion it was blasphemy to permit the Huguenots to have any places of worship, and from the political point of view it was suicide to tolerate them, for “there could never be new things in religion without loss of obedience to the temporal power,” in proof of which the King pointed out that in certain of the provinces of France the people were refusing to pay tithes and taxes, at the same time triumphantly asserting that he was better informed of things happening in France than in Spain; that as to the Council of Trent, the Germans would have nothing to do with it and Spain had no need of it, while France was torn by heretical controversy, so that it might well be said that the council sat for the benefit of France alone.[432]

One of the points upon which Philip II dwelt with earnestness in the interviews he granted the two ambassadors of France was the vicious education under which Charles IX’s brother Henry,[119] duke of Orleans, was being brought up. He emphatically condemned the Huguenot environment of the young prince. It did not seem a coincidence therefore, when a plot was discovered in November to seize the duke of Orleans—afterward Henry III—who was to have been made capo di parti by the Catholics. It was even said the conspirators aimed also to remove the king and queen of Navarre, Condé, and the admiral, by poison. The duke of Nemours was charged with being the principal author of it, and was to have carried the young duke off to Lorraine or Savoy.[433] This supposition was given greater probability when the whole company of the Guises suddenly left the court and departed for Lorraine. But Catherine was not yet intimidated, though she prudently dropped the investigation which she had set on foot when she discovered clues that led to the Escurial and the Vatican.[434] In spite of the omens, she still adhered to a middle course. The government resolved to send twenty-five bishops and two archbishops to Trent, although they went “very unwillingly.”[435] At the same time permission was granted to the ministers of the Reformed[120] churches to preach in private houses or in gardens environed with houses (the erection of churches being prohibited), if it was done without tumult.[436] At court the ministers of the Reformed churches preached one day, when the queen of Navarre, the prince of Condé, and the admiral would be present. The next day either some Cordelier, Jesuit, Jacobin, Minim, or other of the cloistered sects, preached, on which occasion, the King, the queen mother, the king of Navarre, the cardinal of Ferrara, accompanied by those who leaned toward the see of Rome, would be present. But moderation was exacted of both sects. On one occasion a famous preacher of the Minims, who had won some credit with the Catholics for his railings, was in the night secretly taken from his lodgings and carried to the court to answer for his rabid utterances.[437]

But it was increasingly manifest that events, both within and without France, were passing beyond the grasp of the government. The Huguenots, sometimes from fear no doubt, but not infrequently for effrontery, went to their services with pistols and matchlocks, in spite of the laws against the bearing of arms; and they even were bold enough to march through the streets singing their psalms, to the anger and scandal of Catholic Christians.[438] An outbreak was imminent at any time.

In Paris, on October 12, the Protestants assembled together to the number of 7,000 or 8,000 to hear one of their ministers preach, half a mile from the town. The Catholics thereupon shut the gates to prevent their re-entry. Finding the gates closed, the Protestants forced them, and many were wounded and some slain on both sides.[439] From the provinces word had come in July that the duke of Montpensier, going to his house in Touraine for the burial of his mother, and finding numbers in many towns who made open profession of Calvinism, by virtue of his governorship of that country, imprisoned about one hundred and forty in Chinon.[121] Whereupon the people, not forgetting his conduct toward them in the previous reign, when he razed the houses of several who were reported to him to be Huguenots, assembled in great numbers—about 12,000 or 15,000, we are told—surely a great exaggeration, and marched so fast upon him that he was besieged in his house and forced to release all the prisoners in order to appease the multitude.[440]

The organized nature of the Huguenot agitations in various localities, especially in southern France, did not escape the keen observation of Philip’s ambassador.[441] At Montpellier in Languedoc the Protestant organizations, by September, had taken the form of a definite league, with the sweeping motto: “No mass, no more than at Geneva,” whose operations were so thorough that many Catholics were on the point of emigrating to Catalonia.[442]

Quite as formidable as armed and insurrectionary religion at home was the drift of the negotiations of both parties abroad. The formation of the Triumvirate had been taken as a sign by both parties that the issue between them was, as in Germany before the Smalkald war, likely soon to pass from religious difference and political rivalry into military combat; and both sides accordingly prepared against this fatal day. Naturally, the Protestant German princes who had followed the proceedings at Poissy with intense interest[443] were the ones looked to for assistance by the[122] Huguenots. In May, 1561, the prince of Condé had sent Hotman to the chief German princes, begging them not to desert the cause of the true religion in France and saying that Philip II was endeavoring to terrify the queen from making any concessions to the Huguenots.[444] The fact that some of these, as the count palatine of the Rhine, and the landgrave of Thuringia were Calvinists, while others were Lutherans, was not an insuperable barrier to co-operation, although the Lutherans wished that the confession of Augsburg might first be recognized in France. But the prevailing opinion was that the adherents of both of the Protestant faiths should first unite in endeavoring to secure freedom of worship and liberty of conscience in France, and then they might proceed to establish uniformity of religion, if possible.[445] Two propositions were made to the German princes. The first was that if the Guises, or any of their confederates, tried to enlist soldiers in Germany, measures should be taken to stop the effort; secondly, that if the Guises or their accomplices resorted to the use of arms against Condé and Coligny and were supported by Spain, then assistance should be given them. Some of the German princes agreed at once to this latter proposition, provided the expenses of such military support were defrayed by the Huguenots; but others thought that the matter could only be settled in a general assembly of the princes. The circle of Huguenot negotiations at this moment was a wide one and their prospects were bright. For[123] at this time Denmark, too, was suing for French favor. Among the ambassadors who came to offer the condolences of their sovereigns for the death of Francis II and to congratulate young Charles, had come an envoy of the Danish king proposing the marriage of his sister to a French prince and himself to marry Mary Stuart. This proposed Franco-Danish alliance could have produced no other effect than to facilitate the Protestant cause in France.[446] On the other hand, the prospect of Swiss support of the Catholic cause in France was not good. Aside from the great expense this alliance had always entailed, the number of the Catholic cantons had been diminished by the secession of Glaris, which had lately gone over to Protestantism, in consequence of which the rest, seeing themselves weakened, had asked aid from the duke of Savoy and the Pope.[447]

The Catholics adroitly emphasized the difference between the two Protestant faiths, with the hope not only of preventing Lutheran support of the Huguenots, but even of securing their aid against the French Calvinists. The duke of Guise went in person to confer with the duke of Württemberg at Saverne (February 15, 1562),[448] while Philip II redoubled his efforts to alienate the king of Navarre.[449] The support of the Spanish monarch was the vital factor in French politics. The French Calvinists had no single most powerful ally to support them, such as the Catholic party enjoyed in the assistance of Spain. England was the only Protestant power capable of being a rival to Spain, and England was too cautious or too much occupied with home politics to risk embroilment abroad.

Both Rome and Spain at this moment took a resolute attitude. Shortly after the conference of Poissy came to an end, a consistory[124] of the curia, on October 10, 1561, had resolved to resist the Protestants in France.[450] The counter-reformation programme deliberated at Trent recognized Philip II as the secular head of the movement (“à ceste fin d’un commun consentement le tout chef et conducteur de toute l’enterprise”) who was to wheedle or compel the king of Navarre to commit himself in favor of the Catholic cause in France, of which the duke of Guise was to be formally recognized as leader. The Spanish monarch was also to bring pressure to bear upon the Emperor to compel the Catholic princes of Germany to prevent the Lutherans and Rhenish Calvinists from supporting the Protestants of France. France must be saved from self-ruin for the sake both of religion and the preservation of other Catholic nations. Time and circumstances would show the hour of such intervention, but everything must be prepared in advance.[451]

Aside from his inflexible religious convictions, in Philip’s eyes, policy also pointed toward Spanish intervention in France. Spain, Spanish Burgundy, and Flanders were, as Montluc of Valence declared, “les trois plus belles fleurs de chapeau du roy Philippe;” each of them bordered France, and France lay between Spain and them, splitting the Spanish empire like a wedge. Under these circumstances the prevention of heresy in France was not merely an act of religious duty but an act dictated by political expediency. Moreover, Spain might territorially profit by such a policy. The son of Charles V dreamed of acquiring ducal Burgundy, which his father had failed to secure; the Three Bishoprics might be wrested away from Charles IX, either violently or as the price of Spanish aid, and joined to Franche Comté they would materially strengthen Spain’s midcontinental road from Lombardy to the mouths of the Rhine.[452]


Fear of Spain and of the Guises gave Catherine de Medici more anxiety than the insurrections of the Huguenots.[453] The government was justly apprehensive of Philip II’s movements and warned Joyeuse to be on his guard against any effort to throw Spanish troops across the frontier.[454] Reinforcements were sent to Calais.[455] At the same time more captains and companies were sent to Metz, where Vieilleville, the governor, was ordered not to admit anyone known to be a Guisard into the city, as the Guises were suspected of wishing to hand it over to Philip.[456] Precautionary changes were also made in the military posts, in the case of those known to be well-affected to the Guises, the changes[126] all being in favor of the Huguenot party.[457] De Gourdan was removed from Calais and the command given to the sieur de Grammont, who had married a sister of the vidame de Chartres; the prince de la Roche-sur-Yon was made king’s lieutenant in Paris; the admiral made governor of Normandy in place of the duke of Bouillon; Condé was sent to Picardy, where the marshal Brissac had lately resigned on account of illness.[458]

“Here is new fire, new green wood reeking, new smoke and much contrary wind blowing,” wrote Shakerley to Elizabeth’s ambassador, Throckmorton, on December 15, 1561.[459] The words were wisely as well as quaintly used. From the capital to every edge of France unrest, suspicion, conspiracy, insurrection prevailed. The Catholic orders began to fortify the abbeys. Every day Catherine’s determination to maintain an even balance of the two religions was producing greater tension and more heat. Violence was ominously on the increase.[460] Robbery was common[127] under pretense of searching for heretics.[461] In the hope of bettering things, the crown relieved the prince de la Roche-sur-Yon of the lieutenancy and committed it to the marshal Montmorency, from whose religious moderation and popularity much was expected.[462] The capital of France at this season presented a strange and terrible appearance. Armed bands roamed the streets. The city more resembled a frontier city in a state of siege than a mercantile or university town. The students of the Sorbonne paraded the streets and went armed to mass, the authorities being powerless to control them.[463]

The condition in the provinces was as bad; only here the odds seem to have been in favor of the Protestants. In Guyenne a Huguenot mob sacked a town, committed many outrages, and finally besieged the governor, Burie, in his house.[464] A worse occurrence was the murder of Fumel, an eminent lawyer in Languedoc, as an “enemy of the religion.”[465] There were riots in Troyes, Orleans, Auxerre, Rouen, Meaux, Vendôme, Bourges, Lyons, Tours, Angers,[466] Bazas.[467] The Huguenots of Sens erected[128] a church outside the town. Then finding that they outnumbered the Catholics they pillaged the treasury of the cathedral and robbed the monasteries.[468]

Still the queen mother persevered, taking her counsel from the chancellor L’Hôpital, the admiral Coligny, the prince of Condé, and his brother, D’Andelot, and adhered to her resolution to permit the Huguenots to enjoy freedom of worship. On January 3, 1562, the chancellor made an earnest plea for religious toleration before the Court of Parlement,[469] which was followed by the most decisive action the government had yet taken, namely the issuance of the famous edict of toleration of January 17, known as the Edict of January, which was the first that granted exercise of the Reformed religion in public.[470]


This edict was expressly declared to be provisional in its nature, pending the decisions of the Council of Trent, which, by a coincidence, was opened on the day following, January 18, 1562, the first formal session being set for the second Thursday in Lent.[471] The preamble recited that the government’s action was taken in consideration of the state of affairs prevailing in the kingdom; that it was not to be construed as approving the new religion; and that it was to remain in force no longer than the King should order; it deprecated the “disobedience, obstinacy, and evil intentions of the people” which made even provisional recognition of Calvinism necessary. Specifically, the edict provided for the restoration by the Huguenots of all property unlawfully possessed by them; it forbade them to erect any churches, either within or without the cities and towns (Art. 1) or to assemble for worship within the walls thereof either by day or night, or under arms (Arts. 2, 5). Protestant worship was required to be in the daytime, outside the town gates, in the open, or, if under cover, in buildings occasionally used, and not formally consecrated as churches. For this reason the Reformed ministers preached, some in the fields, others in gardens, old houses, and barns, according to their particular inclinations or convenience. For they were expressly forbidden to build any chapels, or meddle with the churches, upon any account. Access to their meetings was always to be permitted to the King’s officers, i.e., bailiffs, seneschals, provosts, or their lieutenants, but not to officers of judicature (Arts. 3, 6; and supplementary declaration of interpretation, February 14, 1562). Furthermore, the raising of money among the Huguenots was to be wholly voluntary and not in the form of assessment or imposition. They were to keep the political laws of the Roman church, as to holidays and marriage, in order to[130] avoid litigation and confusion of property rights; and to refrain from harboring any person who might be accused, prosecuted, or condemned by the government, under penalty of a fine of 1,000 crowns, to be devoted to charity, together with whipping and banishment (Arts. 8, 9, 12). The use of reproachful or vituperative language touching the faith or practice of the Catholic church was made a misdemeanor (Art. 10). Finally, all Protestant synods or consistories were required to be held by permission of or in presence of the lieutenant-general of the province concerned, or his representative, and the statutes of the churches were to be communicated to him (Art. 7, and supplementary declaration and interpretation of February 14, 1562).

In order to prevent seditions, an edict was sent to the judges of the towns, in the name of the King, by which the authorities were ordered to disarm all Catholics in their towns of every species of weapon and to make them deposit their arms in the local city hall or other common point, where they were to be kept under the guard of the procureur and the échevins.[472]

It is a question worthy of consideration, whether the preachings of the Reformed might not have been peaceably maintained after the Edict of January, the provisional form gradually being modified until complete religious toleration would have been secured, if Spain had not continued to tamper with French politics, and if the persistence of the political Huguenots had not continued to push things to such a point that at last the two causes, originally separate, became the obverse and reverse sides of the same issue and had to stand or fall together. On the other hand, had not these concessions of the crown been too long delayed? Was the edict “dead from birth,” as Pasquier wrote?[473]




The progress of events had developed so rapidly as to bely the Edict of January almost as soon as it was passed. The continued absence of the Guises from the court made them open to suspicion, particularly as messengers were passing frequently between Joinville and St. Germain.[474] The nets of conspiracy woven by the Triumvirate were daily being drawn tighter around France. Directed by Chantonnay and the cardinal of Ferrara (who generally spoke in Spanish when together in public, that those near by might not understand),[475] the plans of the Triumvirate were concerted, the Spanish ambassador looking ahead to the day when force would supplant diplomacy.[476]

Ever since its formation, as we have seen, the Triumvirate had sought to win over the king of Navarre. As he was, therefore, sought by both parties, he was much inflated with a sense of his own importance. Antoine still lived in hope of compounding with Philip for the kingdom of Navarre, and to that end still negotiated both with the Vatican and with Spain.[477] But he was getting very tired of the procrastination of the Spanish king, so that there was danger of the thread of his patience being snapped.[478] If war[132] broke out in France and found him in such a mood, an attempt might possibly be made to overrun Navarre.[479] In consequence, it became necessary to make a more tangible proposition to the Bourbon prince. It took the form of a demand and a promise. The demand was that every Huguenot should be banished from court and the Protestant clergy expelled from the country together with the prince of Condé, the Châtillon brothers, the chancellor, and Montluc, the bishop of Valence. In return Antoine was to receive the “kingdom of Tunis” as a reward. This was the new prize used by Spain to bait the hook, and gradually Antoine was drawn over to the side of Spain and the Triumvirate. The amusing feature of this proffer was not so manifest to the men of that day as to us. Geographical knowledge, even of the Mediterranean coast, was hazy. The constable, for example, thought that Tunis was an island! But Antoine knew more history and geography than Montmorency; he knew that Tunis was a Turkish possession which Charles V had vainly tried to seize, and had to be beguiled with visions of oriental splendor and large plans for its conquest before he became passive. Pending its acquisition, Philip II renewed the offer of Sardinia. Meanwhile Antoine received instruction in the Catholic faith from a teacher recommended to him by the general of the Jesuits,[480] and quarreled with Jeanne d’Albret[133] because she would not let the future Henry IV be taken to mass, or permit him to be present at the christening of the infant son of the Spanish ambassador.[481] By March (1562) it was evident that the king of Navarre was “never so earnest on the Protestant side as he was now furious on the other.”[482]

But if the Spanish ambassador used smooth words to the king of Navarre, his language was quite otherwise toward Catherine de Medici. In the name of his sovereign he demanded the banishment of Jeanne d’Albret from court, the compulsory education of Henry of Navarre in the Catholic religion, and so soundly rated her for harboring Coligny and D’Andelot at court that the outraged queen mother demanded his retirement,[483] ordered the marshal St. André back to his government,[484] and the constable to retire to Chantilly, and contemplated doing the same with the old cardinal Tournon. This procedure offended Antoine who imputed her conduct to Coligny and his brother, and in consequence he inclined more than ever toward the Triumvirate.[485] Finally on Palm Sunday (March 22) Antoine cast the die and went to mass, coming from the service with the emblem of the celebration in his hand.[486]

A superficial aspect of peace still prevailed at court, but in the provinces a state of war already prevailed. Sens,[487] Abbeville,[488] Tours, Toulouse, Marseilles, Toul in Lorraine,[489] and most of all[134] Cahors and Agen,[490] where the terrible Montluc figured, were all scenes of riot and bloodshed during the winter months, in which the Huguenots were generally worsted.[491] In Agen it was so bad that the government had to take more than ordinary notice of the situation. Charles IX called upon the governor of Guyenne to repress “les excès, forces, violences, sacagements d’églises, séditions et escandalles advenus en nôtre pays d’Agenais,” and ordered the consuls of the city to send him the names of those who disturbed the peace.

In this condition of things only a spark was needed to throw the whole country into flames. Force alone could settle the irreconcilable conflict, and it was soon to be invoked. War was certainly anticipated by both parties. But contrary to expectation it was not precipitated by Spanish intervention, but by outbreak within France. It was the massacre of Vassy on March 1, 1562, that threw the country into civil war.



(Bib. Nat., Estampes. Histoire de France, Q. b.)

The duke of Guise had spent the winter, as we have seen, working in the interest of the Triumvirate. On February 15, 1562, he had a conference at Saverne with the duke of Württemberg, whom he adroitly persuaded into the belief that the Calvinists were aiming to involve the German Protestants in their own quarrel, thereby securing his neutrality in event of civil war. Shortly after his return to France the duke left Joinville with the intention of rejoining the court. As he was passing through Vassy,[492] his retinue encountered a Huguenot congregation worshiping in a barn outside of the town. Though the service was strictly in conformity with the Edict of January, the sight angered the duke, whose followers fell upon the company, and the famous massacre ensued. It was March 1, 1562. How much provocation was made by the Protestants for this attack is a matter of dispute. The duke himself and Catholic partisans ever since have asserted that stones were first thrown at him. Probably the absolute truth will never be known. Ranke, perhaps, sums up the verdict of history best in the statement that “whether the duke intended the massacre or not, it is enough that he did not prevent it.”[493] Two weeks later, on March 16, the duke of Guise, accompanied by the chief members of his house, save the cardinal of Lorraine and the duke of Elbœuf, arrived in Paris. The capital, which long since had learned the news of Vassy, received him joyfully.[494] At[136] the St. Denis gate he was met by the constable and his four stalwart sons, the eldest of whom was governor of the city, the four marshals of France, and twenty-one knights of the Order. Having arrived at his hotel, the provost of the merchants, who was syndic of Paris, accompanied by many of the chief merchants, visited him, “testifying his joyful welcome,” which was further attested by the proffer of two millions of gold in favor of the Catholic cause. The duke made an adroit reply, assuring them that the queen mother and the king of Navarre, with the aid and advice of the King’s council, would pacify the realm; that he, as a faithful and loyal subject, must abide where the King commanded, and that he hourly expected a summons to court. On the same day the prince of Condé, returning from the court to Paris with the intention of going to Picardy, finding the duke of Guise in the capital, changed his plans and tarried in Paris, though offering to leave the town by one gate if the duke, the constable, and the marshal St. André would leave by the other.[495] When the Guises perceived that the Huguenots were undismayed by the events, they began to increase their adherents in the city, so that in a short time, it was thronged with nearly ten thousand horsemen. It was impossible, on the other hand, for the Huguenots to concert measures of defense in Paris, and accordingly the prince of Condé soon quitted the capital (March 23) “like another Pompey,”[496] going to Meaux, where Coligny and D’Andelot soon joined him.[497]

Meanwhile Catherine de Medici, fearful lest the person of the King would be forcibly seized by the Guises, and recognizing that[137] the king of Navarre had surrendered completely to the Triumvirate, endeavored to remove the King to Blois. But Antoine hotly protested against so overt a move in favor of the Huguenots and Spain’s ambassador fulminated so strongly against “the evil reputation” of L’Hôpital,[498] that the court was compelled to go to Fontainebleau instead.[499] Even this place met with small favor on the part of the Guises, who would have preferred keeping the court in Paris. But when they urged the necessity of the queen’s presence in the council in consideration of the grave state of affairs, Catherine caustically rejoined that she thought “it more meet to have regard to the health of the King than to inform so many wise men what was necessary to be done.” This speech of the queen mother, however, was not said altogether in sarcasm. For instead of following the advice of the constable, who showed signs of resenting the Guise ascendency, that the crown repudiate and condemn the massacre of Vassy and announce its determination to maintain the Edict of January,[500] Catherine in her alarm lest the rising of the Huguenots sweep the Valois dynasty from the throne began to incline toward Spain.[501] For the time being the Triumvirate professed itself satisfied, intending after Easter to compel the court to repair to Bois de Vincennes, in order to have the King in their midst and thus strengthen with his name the authority of their actions.[502] Great was the alarm, therefore, when the prince of Condé, accompanied by the admiral Coligny and D’Andelot, appeared before the gates of Paris on March 29 with three thousand[138] horse.[503] Immediately all the bridges were drawn up and preparations made to meet an attack.[504] Already extraordinary arrangements had been made for the defense of Paris. Strangers were compelled to leave the city; no persons except gentlemen were permitted to wear arms and these were limited to sword and dagger; only six gates were open and these were under double guard.[505] Failing to enter the city, the prince quartered his troops at St. Cloud and took possession of the highroad from Paris to Orleans at Longjumeau, while in Paris the duke of Guise, the king of Navarre, and the constable hastened forward the preparations for war.[506] But the prince of Condé refrained from the use of force. He gave out that he had as much right to enter the city under arms as had Guise, and complained of the fact that Guise and his following, on March 27, which was Good Friday, had visited the King and Queen at Fontainebleau, where the latter “made them strange countenance because the train came in arms to the court.”[507] The apparent purpose of the prince of Condé was to cut Fontainebleau off from Paris, for the admiral lay at Montreuil, but four leagues distant, and thus force a reasonable settlement, or push matters to an extremity by making himself master of the Loire, thus cutting France in twain and having all Guyenne and Poitou and much of Languedoc at his back. Color was lent to this belief by the fact that so many men from the northern and eastern provinces were passing southward that a special body of troops was set to guard the line of the Seine.[508]


But the Catholic leaders guessed Condé’s purpose and by a coup de main seized the King and his mother and carried them off from Fontainebleau to Melun, a town strong enough to be withheld against any sudden enterprise. Thereupon the prince, perceiving that he had been outreached, marched toward Orleans[509] in spite of an order sent from the King, and undoubtedly inspired by Guise, that he should lay down his arms. An attempt to prevent him from reaching Orleans was blocked by a rapid advance of D’Andelot.

Meanwhile the constable had assumed the direction of affairs in Paris, where on April 5 the Huguenot house of worship near the Port St. Antoine was torn down, the pulpit, forms, and choir burned, and fragments carried away as souvenirs by the mob. Troops patrolled the streets, arresting suspects, and a house to house visitation was made in search of Calvinist preachers. The same day the court came to Bois de Vincennes. During the next few days vain overtures were made to the prince. Coligny and D’Andelot offered to meet the queen mother at such a place as she would appoint, provided the prince of Navarre, the future Henry IV, Damville, the constable’s second son, and one of the Guises, were given into Orleans as hostages for them. Catherine was willing to accept the offer, but was overruled by Antoine of Bourbon, the duke of Guise, and Montmorency.[510] Those who were least alarmed still looked for settlement at the hands of the General Council. But there were serious political difficulties, as well as those religious, in the way of this, the three principal ones being: (1) the summons of the council, which many Catholics even wished to be convoked by the Emperor, and not by the Pope; (2) the place of the council; (3) the authority of the council, which many Catholics wished to be above the Pope.[511]

On April 12, 1562, at Orleans, the prince of Condé formally[140] assumed command of the Huguenot forces,[512] his chief lieutenants being the admiral Coligny and D’Andelot.[513] The first civil war was a reality. The city on the Loire for some years to come was destined to be the capital of the Protestants, dominating all the surrounding country. Blois and its château, Tours and its castle, Amboise, Saumur, Angers, and many other towns on the Loire and in Maine, were occupied by the Protestants. Orleans was reputed to have bread and wine enough in store to withstand a two years’ siege,[514] and the Huguenots seemed to have plenty of money for immediate necessities, thanks to their despoilment of the churches of the region, especially the rich abbey of Marmoutier.[515] Although the purposes of the Huguenots were clandestinely more political than religious, it was expedient to cloak them under a mantle of faith.[516] The political organization of the Huguenots was effected through the medium of an association, a form of organization of which there are many examples, both Protestant and Catholic, during this troubled period. The preamble of the instrument of government disclaimed any private motives or considerations on the part of those who were parties to the association, and asserted that their sole purpose was to liberate the King from “captivity” and punish the insolence and tyranny of the disloyal and the enemies of the church. Idolatry, blasphemy, violence, and robbery, were forbidden within the territory of the[141] association, in order that all might know that it had “the fear of God before it.” The association was to expire after the King had attained his majority.[517]

The essential difficulties in the situation as it obtained at this time are manifest. The Huguenots declared the King to be a captive in the hands of the Guises and themselves claimed to be loyal subjects in rebellion against tyranny.[518] The Guises, on the other hand, branded the Huguenots as rebels and schismatics, although Catherine de Medici still had a lingering hope of restoring peace, and in official utterances carefully refrained from alluding to the prince of Condé as a rebel.[519] Neither side would agree to lay down its arms without the other doing likewise, and neither dared take the initiative in this matter. The situation, therefore, was an irreconcilable one, which nothing but war could settle. The political determinations of the Huguenots were quite as fixed as their religious convictions, for part of their platform was the article agreed upon by the estates at Orleans to the effect that the cardinal of Lorraine, the duke of Guise, the constable, and the marshals Brissac and St. André, should render an account of their stewardship.[520] How far politics governed the situation is evidenced by the fact that late in April the king of Navarre and Montmorency began to weaken in their attitude when it was known that Condé dominated the middle Loire country, Touraine, Maine, Anjou,[142] and much of Normandy; when it was learned that the cities of Lyons,[521] Toulouse, Caen, Rouen,[522] Dieppe, Troyes, Bourges,[523] and the provinces of Dauphiné, Provence, and Poitou, had declared for the Huguenot cause; and when troops were pouring into Orleans by thousands.[524]

If the Guises and the marshals Brissac and St. André could have acquitted themselves with so little discredit as Antoine of Bourbon or the constable, it is possible that a compromise might have been made even yet.[525] But such an issue was impossible under the circumstances. The guilt of Vassy still hung over the duke, for he had not yet been absolved either by the Court of Parlement or by the peers of France. Having appealed to force, force remained[143] the only method of settling the great dispute that divided France, and Guise daily assembled horse and foot in Paris in expectation of battle.[526]

The formidable nature of the Huguenot rising by this time had so increased the fear of Catherine de Medici that she completely surrendered to the Triumvirate and resolved to appeal to Spain for help. On April 19 she sent for Antoine of Navarre, the duke of Guise, the constable, and the two marshals, Brissac and St. André, to whom she declared that she had been badly advised hitherto, and that she now trusted to their support. Montmorency at once proposed to ask the nuncio to petition His Holiness to send money and troops to the help of Catholic France. But Spain, not Rome, was the political cornerstone of the Catholic world, and it was now that the momentous resolution was taken to invite Philip II to lend assistance. Catherine de Medici, who shortly before this time had looked upon the prospect of Spanish intervention with apprehension, was now in favor of it. At Catherine’s instance the Triumvirate formally invited Spain’s support in a joint letter which was accompanied by Antoine of Navarre’s written profession of the Catholic faith.[527] Two weeks later, May 8, Charles IX himself formally solicited military assistance of Philip II.[528][144] Catholic Switzerland,[529] Catholic Germany,[530] Savoy, the Pope,[531] and other princes of Italy were also looked to.[532] The queen mother[145] did not know that already the Triumvirate had anticipated her request by asking the Spanish King to instruct the regent of Flanders[146] to hold the troops there in readiness “because Madame de Parma would not let a single horse go out of Flanders without orders.”[533] By the end of June these troops were ready. They were almost all Spaniards and Italians, then universally regarded as the best soldiers in the world.[534] Philip II, though, was actuated by other motives besides zeal for Catholicism.[535] He feared lest the south of France might attack Navarre, owing to the identification of Jeanne d’Albret with the Huguenot cause, and so sent reinforcements to Fontarabia and Pampeluna; a movement which weakened the prince of Condé by preventing Grammont’s Gascon troops from going to Orleans.[536]

The war went forward in spite of lack of funds on both sides. In order to pay the expenses of the war in Brittany Catherine authorized the seizure of the plate in the churches. But the duke of Etampes, who was governor of Brittany, was cautious about carrying out this order. “The people are so religious and scrupulous[147] in these things,” he wrote, “that if they found out that we wanted to take it, they would not readily endure it, especially in Lower Brittany.” Instead he advised that the plate of the churches be deposited in some principal town in each bishopric, “under color of retaining and guarding it there, and that a tax of from 15 to 20 livres be imposed upon each person for this purpose,” figuring that this expedient would produce from 15 to 20,000 livres.[537] The Huguenots let no money pass from the provinces under their control, even going so far as to destroy the government registers in the towns they took.[538]

Every day increased the interest of the populace in the struggle.[539] “If the prince of Condé should come to Paris,” wrote an Englishman in Paris, “they could not tarry there, on account of the fury of his soldiers and the populace.”[540] In Dauphiné, De la Mothe Gondrin, lieutenant of the duke of Guise, was slain at Valence by the Protestants. It is just to say, however, that he was the aggressor. Accompanied by sixty or eighty gentlemen he went out into the country and came upon a worshiping company of Calvinists “and left not one of them alive.” A Huguenot nobleman, Des Adresse who styled himself “lieutenant of the King in Dauphiné,” acquired a reputation in the region as sinister as that of Montluc in Gascony. The whole southeast of France seemed up in arms.[541] Grenoble, Macon in Burgundy, Châlons in Champagne,[148] Moulins in Bourbonnais, where they destroyed the tombs of Antoine’s ancestors,[542] were taken by the Huguenots. Lyons, by reason of its proximity to Geneva, was radically Huguenot, and this sentiment was stimulated still more by the great discontent that prevailed among the lower classes, engaged in silk manufacturing and other industries.[543] In Normandy it was even worse. At Rouen the Huguenots routed the Catholics and seized the government.[544] On May 14 Maligny took Havre-de-Grace, which astonished and affrighted the Catholics because it stood at the mouth of the Seine and made open communication between the Huguenots and the English easy. At Caen,[545] Bayeux, and most places in Lower Normandy, the inhabitants defaced the images in the monasteries and parish churches, and arrested the King’s revenues coming to Paris.[546] Caudebec, which revolted on May 15, was besieged by the Guisards, but had placed men in it previously and so saved itself. In Dieppe, where the revolt followed hard upon news of Vassy, a conflict between Protestants and Catholics resulted in the death of 150 persons.[547] Terrible cruelties were committed at Angers[548] by the Protestants.

Amid this almost spontaneous insurrection involving provinces widely separated from one another, the Ile-de-France and Burgundy adhered to the crown and the Catholic cause, the former wholly from inclination, the latter in part because of the adroitness[149] of Tavannes, the brilliant captain, who foiled the Huguenot assault upon Dijon,[549] and saved Châlons-sur-Saône.[550]

In spite of these occurrences, however, abortive negotiations for peace filled the ten days between the 18th and the 28th of May.[551] In Paris it was expected that Condé would attack the city. The government’s force was not sufficient to take the field, and twenty-five pieces of artillery were paraded through the streets to make an impression and to induce the clergy and Parisians to contribute money for this religious war-making.[552] Popular opinion in Paris was bitterly hostile to the Huguenots, but the bourgeois were not inclined to go down into their pockets and so, when the cowardly king of Navarre published a proclamation on May 26[553] expelling all Protestants from Paris and leaving their goods at the mercy of their adversaries, it was hailed with delight by the capital. Mobs of Catholics forcibly expelled Huguenots from the city and destroyed their goods. The city was so full of men-at-arms, highwaymen, and robbers at this time that every householder was required to keep a light in his street window until daybreak.[554][150] Risings in many parts of the country continued to be heard of;[555] Vendôme, La Charité, Auxerre, Montargis, Poitiers, together with most of the towns of Saintonge and Angoumois,[556] either declared for the prince of Condé or were taken by him. But at Toulouse the Huguenots suffered heavily.[557] In Normandy, there was great fear of English intervention.[558]

Overtures for peace came to nothing because the Huguenots made the withdrawal of the Triumvirate a condition precedent to their laying down of arms.[559] The prince contended that he could not be secure unless the duke of Guise, the constable, and the marshal St. André retired from the court. The queen mother in reply represented that it was not right, during the King’s minority, to remove from him such important personages; that the Catholics [151]in Paris had taken up arms to oppose the Edict of January, and that if the Huguenot soldiery would retire to their homes they might live there as they liked, while a council (of which he should be a member) considered some better means of settlement.[560] Gradually the hostile armies—the prince of Condé at the head of the Huguenots and the duke of Guise, the constable, the marshal St. André and the recreant king of Navarre with the Catholic host—drew near to each other.[561] An attempt was made to take Jargeau, eight miles from Orleans; but fearing lest its capture would cut supplies off from Orleans, Coligny and D’Andelot destroyed the bridge there. This forced the Catholic captains to change their intention, and they traversed the Beauce so as to surprise Beaugency, fourteen miles from Orleans, midway between Orleans and Blois, where there was a bridge across the river. On June 15 the two forces arrived near the bridge at almost the same time and a fight seemed imminent. The two armies were about five miles apart, and about the same distance from Orleans. Both being south of the Loire, there was no river to hinder an engagement. There were many vineyards between them, which was an advantage to the prince, who had more infantry than cavalry, while Guise[152] had 7,000 horse, D’Aumale having come from Normandy with his force. The Catholic forces were divided: Guise lay north of the river, beyond Beaugency, Paris-ward; D’Aumale’s detachment was on the other side of the river at Clerie, midway between Orleans and Beaugency, having the town and the bridge in his hands; while Navarre was established at Vernon, a league from Beaugency.[562]

The condition of the country around Orleans at this time, considering that a state of war existed, was not bad. Condé had plenty of money for the moment, having secured the riches of the churches of Bourges. Food was good and plentiful in Orleans and bread was cheap. Everything the Huguenots took they paid for, as a matter of policy,[563] although large funds were not in sight and they looked anxiously to England for 100,000 crowns, offering the notes of the leaders as security or else the bonds of some of the most notable Reformed churches, as Rouen and Lyons. The Huguenot army made a brave display. Many of the gentlemen were rich and wore long white coats (casaque blanche) of serge, kersey, or stramell, after the old manner, with long sleeves over their armour.[564] The truce expired on June 21 (Sunday), but only[153] light skirmishing was indulged in while specious negotiations were continued by Montmorency.[565] But the Catholic leaders offered such hard conditions that Condé would not accept them. Among others it was demanded that all preachers should be banished from France, together with the prince himself, the brothers Châtillon, and the other Huguenot leaders, until the King was of age.

During this delay the prince lost the advantage he had possessed. For the duke of Guise, the constable and Marshal St. André returned from Chartres to the camp again, which was between Beaugency and Blois, which lends color to the theory that it was they who overruled Antoine of Navarre and Catherine. After the rupture of the truce, the Catholic army marched to Blois, which they battered for a day and a night, assaulted and entered, although the inhabitants offered to let them in at the gates. When the magistrates of the city offered the keys to the duke of Guise, he pointed to the cannon with him, saying they were the keys he would enter by. At the same time St. André took Poitiers and Angoulême and drove La Rochefoucauld into Saintonge with the aid of Spanish troops.[566] When informed of the duke’s proceedings at Blois, Condé marched to Beaugency, which, after bombardment, was entered on July 3, the most part of those who were left to guard it being killed.[567] Then seeing his own fortunes diminishing daily, he retired to Orleans, with scarcely 3,000 horse and 6,000 footmen. The prince was in doubt what next to do; whether to retire to Lyons and join with the baron des Adresse,[568] who had[154] acquired Grenoble, Valence, and Châlons in Burgundy, despite Tavannes who kept the field with his forces,[569] and was reputed to have 8,000 foot and 1,500 horse besides 6,000 Swiss sent from Bern and Lucerne, or to retire to Gascony where the queen of Navarre was, or thirdly to go to Rouen and thereby keep Normandy. In the end, however, he and Coligny stayed in Orleans. The remainder of his force was either dispersed in the various towns or dismissed.

The Protestants stood in dire need of outside aid during this summer.[570] A few days after Condé had retired within Orleans, D’Aumale took Honfleur (July 21). In Paris mobs killed almost hourly men, women, and children, notwithstanding an edict to the contrary under pain of death. Arms were in the people’s hands, not only in Paris but in the villages. Neither the King nor the queen mother had the means to rule them, for the king of Navarre and the duke of Guise were then at Blois, with the result that Paris did much as it pleased. The leaders contemplated the recovery of Touraine, Anjou, and Maine, and all the towns upon the Loire, and then proposed to go into Normandy and recover Havre-de-Grace, Dieppe, and Rouen. In pursuance of this project the duke of Guise took Loudon and Chinon in Touraine. In the same month Mondidier was entered by the Catholics upon assurance that all the Protestants therein should live safely; but notwithstanding the promises they were all cut to pieces, robbed, or driven forth. Numbers of men, women, and children were drowned in the night with stones about their necks, at Blois, Tours, and Amboise, and those towns which surrendered to the king of Navarre.

While these events were taking place in the Loire country, the[155] duke of Aumale again approached Rouen on the 29th of June, and planted his batteries before St. Catherine’s Mount, but succeeded in doing little in spite of his long battery. He hoped to recover Havre-de-Grace after Guise had seized the towns upon the Loire. The great fear of the French was lest Havre-de-Grace should be given by the Huguenots into the hands of the English, and the atrocious practice of D’Aumale was likely to further such conduct on the part of the Huguenots,[571] for he promised the peasantry not only the privilege of sacking the châteaux of the nobles, but also to relieve them of all taxes. As a result of this vicious policy, trade was dead and whole families of the nobility retired to Dieppe, abandoning their homes.[572]

Violence increased both in the cities and in the provinces. In the southeast Somarive committed great cruelties in Orange, killing men, women, and children wherever he went.[573] But the achievements of Montluc, “the true creator of the French infantry”[574] were the conspicuous feature of the war in the south. By his own confession this famous soldier “rather inclined to violence than to peace, and was more prone to fighting and cutting of throats[156] than to making of speeches.”[575] The war in the southern provinces, it is plain, was one of both politics and religion. The practices of the Huguenots penetrated the whole administrative machinery. The sieur de Burie, king’s lieutenant in Guyenne, was old and overcautious, and not without suspicion of Calvinism,[576] while Duras, the Huguenot leader was so active that the crown had sent the veteran of the siege of Sienna into Guyenne in January, 1560, with a special commission.[577] The Huguenots tried to buy Montluc off through one of their captains formerly with him before Sienna, who came to him saying that the church at Nérac had made him their captain. Montluc’s reply nearly took the captain off his feet. “What the devil churches are those that make captains?” was his fierce question.[578] He speedily began to make his name formidable by hanging six Huguenots without process of law “which shook great fear into the whole party.”

Montluc’s arrival was in the nick of time for the Catholics of the south. He thought that if the Huguenots had been more led by soldiers and not so “guided by ministers, they had not failed of carrying Bordeaux and Toulouse. But God preserved those two forts, the bulwarks of Guyenne, to save all the rest.” Montluc was everywhere at once, never resting long in any place, holding his foes in suspense everywhere, and not only was himself in continual motion, but also with letters and messages perpetually solicited and employed all the friends he had.[579] His troops were few in numbers and so ill-paid that he sometimes was reluctantly compelled to ransom his prisoners. “We were so few that we were[157] not enough to kill them all,” he comments. “Had the King paid his companies I should not have suffered ransom to have been in use in this quarrel. It is not in this case as in a foreign war where men fight for love and honor. In a civil war we must either be master or man, being we live as it were, all under a roof.” He was as good as his word and “shook a great terror into the country everywhere.” When he appeared before Agen he “wondered that the people should be so damnably timorous and did not better defend their religion.” Instead “they no sooner heard my name but they fancied the rope already about their necks.” Yet terrible as the old war-dog was, he still waged war according to the rules of the game. He is outspoken in condemnation of the conduct of the Spanish companies sent by Philip II which joined him before Agen.[580] The importance of Montluc’s services in the south was great. He helped save Toulouse and Bordeaux to the government and the subsequent capture of Lectoure, and the notable battle of Vergt in Périgord (October 9, 1562) prevented the Huguenots south of the Loire from joining the forces of the prince of Condé, who thus narrowly lost the battle of Dreux.[581]

As the Catholic cause mended, the situation of the Huguenots darkened. Four thousand Swiss in June had joined Tavannes in Burgundy and thereby Dijon, Macon, and Châlons-sur-Saône were made safe. Late in July 6,000 lansquenets passed through Paris toward the camp at Blois. Pope Pius IV sent his own nephew to the aid of Joyeuse with 2,500 footmen, one thousand[158] of whom were “Hispainolz.”[582] The Huguenots impatiently awaited the coming of German pistoleers and footmen, to be brought by Casimir, the second son of the count palatine, accompanied by D’Andelot who had been sent into Germany for assistance. But the German princes were slow in responding, especially to the demand for money,[583] so that the prince of Condé actually promised to give them the pillage of Paris![584] D’Andelot passed the Rhine on September 22, 1562—three weeks too late to relieve Bourges—with 2,000 German horse and 2,000 musketeers, who figured in the battle of Dreux in the next December.[585] France had seen nothing like these reiters in days heretofore. Their coming created both consternation[586] and curiosity. Claude Haton in vain sought the meaning of the word.

The word reiter had never had vogue in France within the life of the oldest of men, and one had never used the word until the present, although the kings of France had been served in all their wars by Germans, Swiss, and lansquenets, who are included under this word and name of Germany or Allemaigne. I have taken pains to inquire of numerous persons, who are deemed to know much what was the signification of this word “reiter,” but I have not found a man who has been wise enough to tell me what I wished to know.[587]


In order to pay the reiters and to find money, a taille was imposed upon the Huguenots of all classes, in all towns and villages under their control, upon nobles, priests, merchants, bourgeois, and artisans. But as this means was very tedious, the prince had recourse to the gold and silver vessels, chalices, and crosses of the churches which the Huguenots had pillaged. He also seized upon the government receipts from the gabelle and other taxes of the King in all the villages and élections controlled by the Huguenots, even the moneys of the royal domain, and the revenues of the churches.[588]

Meanwhile on August 19 the siege of Bourges had begun. The city was defended by about 3,500 soldiers, but the circuit of its walls was very great. It was well provisioned for a time, and had considerable munitions and artillery of an inferior sort, but neither cannon nor culverin. Half the town was protected by a great marsh near by; the other half was fortified. It was the plan of D’Andelot, who had entered Lorraine with 2,000 horse and 4,000 foot, commanded by the duke of Deuxponts, feeling he could do nothing in time for Bourges, to cut off Paris by securing the passages of the river at St. Cloud and Charenton.[589] Accordingly the constable and the duke of Guise, learning of the approach[160] of the reiters, dispatched D’Aumale with a commission to levy all men of war in Champagne, Brie, and Burgundy, both foot and horse, and to sound the tocsin for the purpose of raising new levies for the King if those which he first raised should not suffice, and to make a great camp of all these men for the purpose of combating the reiters.[590] But D’Aumale dallied so long,[591] to the intense chagrin of his army, which clamored to “frapper dessus les lif-lof de reistres,”[592] that the German troopers were able to cross the river Seine at Chanceaux, whence they took the road above Auxerre, crossed the Yonne, and so joined the prince of Condé at Orleans.

It would have been much better for France, and especially for the provinces of Champagne, Brie, and Burgundy, if D’Aumale had attempted to repulse the reiters, for his soldiers were the ruin of the villages where they lodged, and any action, even defeat, would have been better than license and idleness. When it was known that the reiters had evaded the force sent against them, the King, seeing new villages of France taken every day, sent orders to all those who still adhered to the crown to the effect that they should be on their guard night and day, for fear of being taken by surprise. For greater security commissions were dispatched[161] authorizing the election of a gentleman of honor and credit to be town-captain in every town.[593]

The Catholic and Huguenot position with reference to each other between Paris and the Loire was now somewhat as follows: the former held Chartres, Bonneval, Chateaudun, Blois; the latter St. Marthurin, Montargis, and Gien. On August 31, 1562, the surrender of Bourges took place. The crown guaranteed life, property, and liberty of conscience to the commandant and soldiers and inhabitants of the town, in consideration of an indemnity of 50,000 livres “pour avoir été si gracieusement traités.”[594] But the Catholic leaders were in doubt what next to do, for all the Huguenots were within the towns, neither occupying the open country nor having a camp outside the walls. The king of Navarre urged the siege of Orleans, but the council was not in agreement with him for two reasons: first, on account of the plague which was there; secondly because they had hopes that Navarre might prevail upon his brother to desert the Huguenot cause, and so spare them the exercise of force. For these reasons it was resolved not to push the siege of Orleans and to attack Rouen instead, where the duke of Aumale was already.[595]


The Guises were now fully aware of the formidable nature of the revolt of Normandy, there being danger of their also losing western Normandy, where the duke de Bouillon held Caen castle, but was disposed to be neutral. They planned, therefore, to send the greater portion of their new forces, Germans and Swiss, to the aid of D’Aumale, who had advanced against Rouen after D’Andelot gave him the slip, for they were little needed in the Loire country. Roggendorf, Guise’s chief German agent, at this time arrived in Paris with 1,200 German pistoleers, well armed and mounted; the Swiss captain, Froelich had brought fifteen ensigns of Swiss, and the Rhinegrave was in Champagne with two regiments of foot and three hundred pistoleers.[596]

The constable and the duke of Guise in fear of English support, resolved to concentrate the greatest part of their force against Rouen and Havre-de-Grace. Another motive lay in the fact that Paris was in want; for the Huguenots recognized that if Rouen, Havre-de-Grace and Dieppe were well held, coercion of Paris was not impossible. The condition at Dieppe and Havre-de-Grace was the source of more anxiety to the government than any other matter. These towns, owing to their situation, were the chief keys to France, without which neither Paris nor Rouen could be free. Havre-de-Grace was of more use to France than Calais as a port of supply, and daily all those who escaped from Pont Audemer, Honfleur, Harfleur, and the Protestants between Dieppe[597] and Rouen were flocking thither.

The chief hope of the French Protestants was based upon the expected aid of England. Early in April, 1562, the prince of Condé and the admiral had solicited her support.[598] But the anxiety[163] of Elizabeth in the welfare of Protestantism beyond sea was not disinterested, any more than Philip II’s catholicism. The legality of her position as queen required her adherence to everything anti-Catholic, to which may be added the influence of the political aims of Philip II with reference to England, especially his interest in the doings of Mary Stuart and Spanish tyranny in the Low Countries, both of which jeopardized England. Her ambassador in France observed truly when he wrote her: “It standeth Your Majesty, for the conservation of your realm in the good terms it is in, to countenance the Protestants as much as you may.”[599] Another practical end to be gained by English support of the Huguenots was the possibility of recovering Calais.[600] Yet in spite of their deep religious animosity and their political hostility to one another, England and Spain were in so peculiarly complicated a relation that neither state wished to go to war. Philip II assured Charles IX that although Elizabeth would squirm at sight of Spanish assistance given to France, she dared not strike back in aid of the Huguenots, and would have to compel herself to view things from afar.[601] The key to this extraordinary situation is to be found in the commerce of the Low Countries. The duke of Alva flatly said that his master could not afford to break with the English because of the commercial injury he would sustain in the Netherlands.[602] The same proposition, reversed, was in like stead true of England; her commercial interests in Holland and Flanders were too great to be risked.

But the good prospect of regaining Calais coupled with the fear lest the reduction of France to Spanish suzerainty would entail greater danger to England in the long run than the loss of[164] her commerce beyond sea, at last persuaded Elizabeth to support the Huguenots, upon certain conditions, the ultimate one being restoration of Calais to England.[603] Accordingly, in September, 1562, the queen offered to land 6,000 men to guard the towns in Normandy, to take Havre and Dieppe under her protection, and receive into them the refugees of the Reformed church, and promised not to abandon Havre without the prince’s consent, nor receive Calais from the opposite party. The vidame of Chartres agreed to deliver the custody of Havre-de-Grace to the queen’s lieutenant on condition that the latter would recompense him and[165] Condé by annual pensions or assigned lands, because of the loss of their estates and goods in France. In pursuance of this compact, on September 24, 1562, the English proclamation for the expedition into Normandy was published. It was time, if success were to crown the enterprise, for in Havre troubles and enemies multiplied and patience with the English was on the point of breaking. “No prey happens to a sleeping fox,” wrote the vidame impatiently to the English admiral. On October 1, 1562, the English sailed from Portsmouth for Havre, and on Sunday, October 4, entered the roadstead of Havre at three in the afternoon, and immediately landed as many men as they could with the tide.

The English occupation of Havre-de-Grace startled the government into new activity before Rouen, and the King determined to take it before English assistance could be afforded.[604] The town was well supplied with provisions and had plenty of small arms, but was short of artillery and gunpowder. The garrison numbered about 4,000, under command of Montgomery, the guardsman who had accidentally killed Henry II in tournament, for Morvilliers, the former chief in command in Rouen, had hesitated about the introduction of English soldiers and had been replaced.

In the first week of October the attack of the royal forces upon Rouen was renewed with fury and the fortress on St. Catherine’s Mount was taken by them. Desperation soon prevailed in the beleaguered city and there was talk of conditional surrender if that could be effected, until the arrival of a few companies of English revived the courage of the Rouennais and the fight was renewed. But the procrastinating caution of the English by this time overreached[166] itself. In spite of the importunities of Throckmorton,[605] the English government was reluctant to venture its arms beyond the seaboard,[606] although Throckmorton’s arguments were reinforced by every other English agent in France, Rouen being represented as “such a jewel for them that by no means is it sufferable to become an enemy.”[607] All urgency was in vain. The instructions to the earl of Warwick, the English commander in Havre-de-Grace, were to the effect that if requested to send aid to Rouen or other places he should make some “reasonable delay,” without offending them.[608] It is easy to see from such instructions and the policy pursued by the English government in France that its interest was purely practical and in no sense sentimental or religious. England wanted to hold Havre-de-Grace in pawn for Calais, under cover of pretending to support the Huguenots.

By mid-October, however, it had become plain that this narrow policy could not be so rigidly adhered to. The success of the Catholic armies in Normandy was even endangering Havre-de-Grace, and Havre-de-Grace was not nearly so favorable a point of vantage for the English as Calais had been, for there the pale protected the city proper; in the city at the Seine’s mouth the fortifications were weak and, worst of all, the location was a poor one for defense.[609] With the coming of winter, it would be possible for the French with slight effort to prevent much intercourse by sea between Havre and the English ports, while already the country roundabout was being devastated by the German reiters. D’Aumale was reported to have said—and there was justification of the statement—that the English garrison might make merry as it pleased, the winter and famine would cause them to pack homeward faster than they had come. Too late the English at[167] last determined to succor Rouen after the fall of St. Catherine’s Mount,[610] and relief troops were sent forward to Rouen from Havre-de-Grace and Dieppe. An intrepid English captain named Leighton (he was afterward made governor of Guernsey), with a handful of men, made his way into the city, but substantial assistance did not come until the middle of October. Even then misfortune overtook the English. The approach was made by the river in six small ships, but one of them struck on a sand bar near Caudebec and was intercepted by Damville, so that only 600 English got into the town.[611]

On the morning of the 16th, Montgomery and two of the chief men of the city came out of Rouen, under a flag of truce, and spoke with the queen, returning a second time with fresh proposals, but nothing resulted. The Huguenots demanded, first of all, liberty of preaching, and of living according to their religion. Besides this, they insisted that the King should not put a garrison in Rouen, and as security for the observance of these conditions they required hostages from the King, to be kept by them at Havre-de-Grace. In the second interview they enlarged the conditions; namely, that the Edict of January might be observed and that they might preach freely in the cities, although by the edict preaching was permitted only outside of cities.[612] Moreover, they insisted on this agreement being extended to all towns of France; and in order to give this convention a general effect, the prince of Condé was to confirm it. For the observance of all these conditions they demanded as hostages the prince de Joinville, eldest son of the duke[168] of Guise, and brother of the marshal Brissac,[613] superintendent of the King’s revenues.

Although Montgomery was unaware of it, the government already, alarmed by the English intervention, had made overtures to the prince of Condé in Orleans. But in each case, a condition required would not be yielded. The demand of the Rouennais that the Edict of January be revised so as to permit Protestant worship in all towns broke off negotiations with them. In the overtures made to Condé and Coligny, restitution of all in rebellion to their estates and offices was promised, as also the assurance to the Huguenots that they might enjoy their religion peaceably in their houses, but public worship, even without the towns, was not to be permitted. The Protestant leaders seem to have been inclined to yield to these terms, although they implied a reduction of their religious privileges, but insisted that the crown should assume the payments due to Condé’s German auxiliaries. The government balked at this proposal, and the prince and the admiral themselves balked when the king of Navarre declared that D’Andelot’s German troopers and the Huguenots should unite to expel the English from France, so that in the end neither set of negotiations was successful.[614]

During the successful assault upon Fort St. Catherine which followed the rupture of these negotiations both Antoine of Navarre and the duke of Guise were wounded, the former by an arquebus-shot in the joint of the shoulder, as it proved, mortally, because mortification of the wound could not be stayed.[615] Montgomery fought furiously in the assault, which lasted seven hours, and threatened to use his sword upon any who might seek to yield. It was a desperate and vain battle, however.[616] The King’s forces[169] mined clear to the walls of the town, and the havoc of their explosions could not be remedied. The breach in the walls made by both mine and shot was so wide that some of the royal force rode through on horseback.[617] On Monday, October 26, the besiegers fought their way through and over the walls. In this supreme movement the English and the Catholic Germans came sharply together. No quarter was given the English in the town, the command being given “that they should all pass the sword.” Many of them were stripped naked by the victors. The wounded English who were found had their throats cut; the rest were sent to the galleys. The King entered Rouen the day after its capture, making his way over dead bodies which had been spoiled by the soldiers.[618] The royal forces now had unlimited control of the Seine below Rouen; at Caudebec they staked half the river, so that ships and boats were compelled to pass close under their guns.


The Guises now anticipated a swift collapse of the Huguenot cause. All the chief towns in France save Orleans[619] and Lyons were either by inclination or compulsion obedient to the crown, which found powerful support from the property-owning and lawyer class. Politically and financially the government was stronger, although the court was in want of money at this time. The duke of Guise, the most notable captain and soldier in France, the constable and veteran marshals like Brissac and St. André, had made a combination too strong to be overcome. In this strait, the Huguenot leaders grasped at the last straw—the hope that the prince of Condé might succeed the king of Navarre as lieutenant of the realm by winning the support of liberal Catholics and the anti-Guisard element.[620] There was ground for this hope if the Calvinists could be persuaded to be a little less radical, and if the Catholic religion would be suffered without criticism to be and remain the religion of France, and the Huguenots would make no further alteration in their form of worship than the English Reformation had done.[621]

Antoine of Bourbon, since sustaining the wound received at Rouen, had been gradually sinking, and died on board a boat on his way to Paris, October 26, after prolonged suffering.[622] Condé[171] now, by virtue of the arrangement made at the meeting of the States-General at Orleans, legally succeeded to his brother’s office as lieutenant of the realm, and proceeded forthwith to send out commissions to the constable, marshals, and to all the governors of provinces and places, to repair to him as the King’s lieutenant-general and governor of France. But in spite of the regulation of the estates, the court and Catholic party, by the advice of the cardinals of Ferrara, Lorraine, and Guise, the duke of Guise, the constable, and marshal St. André, with the special solicitation of the Spanish ambassador who voiced his master’s wishes with “a lusty swelling tongue,” resolved to establish the cardinal of Bourbon in the authority the king of Navarre had held.[623]




After the fall of Rouen, the chief military design of the Guises seems to have been to protract the war, without giving battle, until the Germans with D’Andelot and Condé either deserted for lack of pay or were corrupted by them. Catherine’s wish, on the other hand, was to end the war by composition and not by the sword, fearing to have either party become flushed with success. In pursuance of this policy numbers of the soldiers were permitted to go home, the war being considered to be practically at an end until the spring, except that garrisons of horse and foot were kept in the towns round about Orleans after the manner of a flying siege (siège volante). But the rapid advance of the prince toward Paris from Orleans, where he had been waiting for D’Andelot, who mustered his German horse in Lorraine in the middle of September, after he learned of his brother’s death, required the duke of Guise to change his plans. Passing by Etampes, which the Guises abandoned at his approach,[624] the prince of Condé marched toward Corbeil in order to win the passage of the Seine, where 4,000 footmen and 2,000 horse of the enemy lay in order to keep the Marne and the Seine open above Paris for provisioning the capital. The Huguenot army numbered about 6,000 footmen; 4,000 of them Germans, and nearly 3,000 horsemen. Most of the Germans were well armed and mounted, and all “very Almain soldiers, who spoil all things where they go.”[625]

The duke of Guise, having received word of the approach of the Huguenots upon Paris, abandoned his purpose of going to Havre,[173] in order to return to the succor of the city. Great difficulty was experienced in accomplishing the return of the army, because it was the depth of winter and the days were short and the roads heavy. “Nevertheless everyone in camp took courage, because he was returning to the good French wines and no more needed to drink the cider of Normandy.”[626]

To combat the Protestant force, Guise and the constable had not over 6,000 footmen and 1,000 horsemen at Paris, though this force could be somewhat enlarged by drawing in the troops around Rouen and before Havre-de-Grace. It was fully expected that the prince of Condé would march upon the capital or else take the straight road to Normandy in order to unite with the English and with their help attempt to regain possession of Rouen and Dieppe. Paris was in the greatest alarm. All the people living in the faubourgs were compelled to abandon their houses. The state of the royal army was bad; the soldiers were scattered and disorganized, for the spoil of Rouen had induced every kind of license and debauchery. Moreover, the plague was raging everywhere. In this exigency the duke of Guise abandoned the country roundabout, within two or three leagues of Paris, to the pillage of the Protestants, withdrew his scattered forces within the walls, and feverishly employed every available person in the erection of fortifications, principally upon the side toward Orleans, for which certain unfinished erections of Francis I were utilized. The city was so crowded with people even before the appearance of the troops of the prince that it seemed to be in a state of siege. If Condé at this time could have seized the river above and below the capital by which provisions were received into Paris, the city could have been speedily reduced to famine, as there was even at this time a scarcity of food.[627]

But Louis of Condé was not a man of good judgment and, while[174] personally brave, he lacked political daring. To gain time for the arrival of reinforcements, Catherine and the Guises wheedled him with empty overtures for peace and sent the marshal Brissac’s brother to the Protestant camp near Etampes to propose a plausible settlement, saying that the Huguenots might have what they desired if they would aid in expelling the Germans, and especially the English. The last possibility was what the English agents in France had most feared, the more because of the undeniable strength of the Catholic crown party, which had won to itself a great number of the nobility, and because of the approaching winter, the lack of money among the Huguenots, the scarcity of food, and the weariness of the country. Such abandonment of the English by the prince of Condé could hardly have been construed as a breach of faith, seeing the apathy of the English participation after the seizure of Havre-de-Grace and Elizabeth’s slowness in sending him financial assistance. But the prince refused to treat with an agent and continued his march toward Paris. On November 25 his cavalry appeared in sight of the city and the queen mother and the constable went out to parley further. The prince of Condé demanded the post of lieutenant-general of the realm; for the Huguenots the right to have churches in all towns except Paris and its banlieue and frontier towns; the right of all gentlemen to have private worship in their own houses, and the retirement of the foreign troops. To these demands, the queen replied that no one should have her authority, adding that the government was already well made up of gentlemen, officers, and ministers, among whom the responsibilities of state had been divided, so that the government was capable of being well conducted until the King had attained his majority. As to toleration, she declared that to grant it would only be to encourage civil war.[628]

Too late Condé found that he had been trifled with[629] in order[175] to give the government time to bring up reinforcements[630] and that the terms he offered had not even been considered. The blame for this unfortunate turn in the war must rest, not upon the queen mother, but upon the Guises. For the duke of Guise and his brother, with the constable, could not but fear, that in the event of peace they would be ruined, and the duke used his own popularity with the masses and the enmity felt by the Parisians toward the queen to gain his ends. When[176] duplicity failed, then Catherine’s adversaries used intimidation, and the Spanish ambassador at their instigation was sent to her, “either threatening or protesting, or promising and offering aid, and thus upsetting everything.”[631] When Paris was full of soldiers negotiations were broken off, the prince of Condé declaring defiantly that the Huguenots would sharpen their swords as they would have need of them.

The only advantage the prince had gained was that he had been able to draw his force close in toward Paris, so that in the last week in November he was camped near the Pont de Charenton. On the 26th he planted his camp on the left bank, a mile from the faubourgs. If the prince of Condé had attacked Paris at once, instead of wasting time at Corbeil in vain pourparlers, the whole Huguenot cause might have triumphed, for the government would have been forced to yield almost everything. He might have won the suburbs with little loss, although in want of heavy artillery, and the city could not then have held out long. But now the case was such that he either had to fight—with small hope of winning, let alone of taking Paris—or else come to an accord upon his enemy’s terms.[632]

The prevailing opinion was that the prince would not be able to keep his army together for want of provisions and money, especially in mid-winter.[633] This proved to be true. On December[177] 9 he broke camp and marched off crestfallen, toward Normandy, after burning the camp, to effect a juncture with the English.[634] By this time he had barely 7,000 men, the time of the year telling hard upon the army, for it was compelled to live in the open, while his adversaries had 15,000 or 16,000 men of all nations, one-quarter of whom were mounted. The difficulty of his position was the greater because he was on the left bank of the Seine, with no prospect of passing the river, for the duke of Guise lay at Poissy,[635] while the Rhinegrave and Villebonne were guarding Pont de l’Arche lower down. Warwick was unwilling to venture forth from Havre to the prince’s assistance, but hoped, by stopping the shipment of salt and other merchandise up the Seine, to be able to compel the towns of Normandy, as Honfleur, Harfleur, Caudebec, and Rouen, for necessity’s sake to come to terms.[636] Being unable to pass the Seine, Condé drew off toward Chartres, followed at the distance of about five leagues by the duke of Guise and the constable, and came to a halt near Montfort not far from Evreux, while Guise lay at a point about ten leagues west of St. Denis, from whence, including Paris, he drew his supplies.[637] All around the two armies the country was destroyed.



(Bib. Nat., Estampes, Histoire de France, Q. b)

The prince’s inability to secure provisions, combined with the failure of English support, finally compelled him to give battle to the duke of Guise near Dreux on December 19, the engagement being precipitated by his attempt to force the passage of the Eure, although the odds were against him in every particular, for the duke of Guise was posted at a point so chosen that he could fall back on Dreux if compelled to do so; his flank was protected by a stream and a wood; and his artillery was more numerous than that of Condé.[638] The advance guard of the Huguenots was commanded by the admiral; the “battle,” in which were the German reiters, by D’Andelot; the rear guard by the prince of Condé himself. The Huguenot ministers and preachers, armed and mounted, moved about among the men, who sang their psalms in such a loud voice that the camp of the King could easily hear them. On the Catholic side the marshal St. André was pitted[179] against D’Andelot; the constable Montmorency commanded the rear guard, with instructions to hold off until the Huguenot rear guard entered the fight; while the duke of Guise himself commanded the advance guard against the admiral.[639]

The battle was begun about noon by a victorious charge of the Huguenot horse, headed by Condé and Coligny, which drove back the Catholic Swiss and resulted in the capture of six pieces of cannon and the constable Montmorency who was slightly wounded in the mouth. His captors “sent him to Orleans with such speed, that he drank but once by the way and that on horseback.”[640] The second charge was less effective owing chiefly to the slowness of the prince’s German reiters who had to have their orders interpreted to them, and partly to the effective artillery fire of the enemy, and culminated in the capture of Condé, whose horse was shot under him. Too late to save the prince of Condé the admiral made a partial rally of the French and German cavalry, in the course of whose attack the marshal St. André was killed.[641] Even then the issue might have been different if the Huguenot footmen had not behaved like cowards.[642] The Protestant loss included about 800 of the noblesse, and nearly 6,000 footmen and reiters according to those who buried the dead.[643] The Catholic loss was about 2,000, the most conspicuous among the fallen being the marshal St. André and Montbrun, the youngest son of the constable Montmorency.[644]


The battle of Dreux was fought on the day of the feast of St. Thomas—almost the shortest day of the year—and the Huguenots had to thank the oncoming of darkness for saving them from pursuit. Under its cover Coligny drew off toward Auneau where he pitched camp, but some of the Huguenot horse galloped all night toward Orleans. Fortunate was the Calvinist who could find a cross to put upon his clothing on the morrow.[645] Twenty-two standards of the prince of Condé were found upon the ground, which were sent to the King and hung in the cathedral of Notre Dame. Almost all Condé’s German footmen were taken prisoners, about 2,000, three-quarters of whom were sent back to Germany on parole, without weapons, and bearing white rods in witness of their abdication; the rest entered the service of the King and were joined with the Rhinegrave’s forces under command of Bassompierre, an Alsatian in the service of Charles IX.[646]


The battle of Dreux, while not a complete rout of the Huguenots, was no less a disaster, because it foiled the efforts of Coligny to effect a junction with the English in Havre and compelled him to fall back on Orleans. Even Spain breathed easier, for anxiety lest the English get Calais was dispelled.[647] Moreover, the French Protestants were in need of money, both Coligny’s and D’Andelot’s troops being in arrears of pay, the latter’s reiters having gone three months without wages.[648] On the other hand the government was in better financial condition through the efforts of the cardinal of Lorraine, who collected some money at the Council of Trent[649] in order to continue the war, and the active efficiency of the Spanish ambassador and the papal legate, who were excellent coworkers.[650] Yet, in spite of defeat, Coligny was resolved to continue the fight, though uncertain what policy to follow. At first he was inclined to go into Dauphiné and join forces with Des Adresse against the duke of Nemours,[651] but the prospect of Catholic relief from Germany in the early spring made it advisable to abandon this plan.

The military situation was much as follows in mid-January, 1563: the Huguenot center was at Orleans, where D’Andelot lay, in control of the middle line of the Loire above Blois and as far northward as Chateaudun and the vicinity of Chartres;[652] Coligny lay at Villefranche (January 12); Montgomery was in Dieppe and the English in Havre. But communication between the Protestant coreligionists was prevented by the way in which the Catholic troops were disposed. Etampes, which the duke of Guise recovered in January, restored the necessary connecting link between Blois and Paris, and the whole line of the Seine was in the hands of the Catholics; Warwick was being besieged in Havre by Vieilleville (he had succeeded the Marshal St. André and was also governor of Normandy), who lay at Caudebec.[653] The marshal[182] Brissac was at Rouen with seventeen ensigns. The marshal Bourdillon who had been given the bâton of the late marshal Termes was in Piedmont. Paris of course was in the government’s hands. In Berry where the upper waters of the Loire and the Seine flow close together the lines of the two hostile parties came in contact. The admiral in the second week in January, 1563, passed the Loire at Beaugency and distributed his men at St. Aignan, Celles, and Montrichard, which lay on the right bank of the stream.[654] At the same time Guise had been minded to cross the river the other way and attack Orleans. This move on the part of each commander brought about a collision of forces near Cléry, in which Guise was repulsed. The condition of the country at the time was terrible, especially for the duke, whose troopers were so pressed that they had to forage twelve leagues from camp.[655] Everywhere the reiters were held in terror, for these raiders frequently made long and rapid marches and fell suddenly upon places, carrying death and destruction with them.

In the meanwhile, the constable had been kept in light captivity at Orleans,[656] a treatment in contrast with that experienced by Condé, who was first kept under strong guard by Damville in the little abbey of St. Pierre at Chartres, both the windows and the street being barred, and later, on January 24, 1563, brought to Paris.[657] Ever since Dreux, the queen mother and the constable had been constantly employed in the endeavor to make a settlement.[658][183] In the case of the constable, self-interest was the chief motive: he chafed under confinement and was envious of the duke of Guise.[659] On the other hand, Catherine’s anxiety was of a political nature. She was fearful lest England permanently acquire Havre-de-Grace. Her purpose was to make peace with the Huguenots and then unite the parties in a war for the recovery of Havre.[660] But the mistrust of the Huguenots that the overtures of peace were meant to be an accord in appearance only; the ambition of the Guises who saw their power thrive in the struggle; the opposition of Paris, and perhaps above all, the opposition of Spain, were difficulties in the way.[661] Philip II’s joy over Dreux was tempered by his anxiety, and he secretly aimed to thwart any terms of peace at all favorable to the Protestants.[662] Catherine probably would have preferred to abide by anything rather than have the Guises gain greater profit.[663] The queen mother urged[184] the necessity of peace on account of lack of funds to carry on the war.[664] But her arguments were cast to the winds by the triumphant Guises when money began to pour into France from Spain, Venice, the duke of Tuscany, and from some of the Catholic German princes.[665]

On the other hand, the penury of the Protestants increased from day to day. Coligny was in daily fear lest the reiters would desert him on account of the delay in paying them.[666] In vain he wrote to Elizabeth, urging the speedy remittance of money. The cautious procrastination and niggardly policy of Elizabeth in the end was fatal to his purpose. In vain her ambassador in France, the faithful Throckmorton, urged immediate and liberal action. Warwick also added his plea, informing the home government and the queen that the admiral would be “ruined and unable to hold up his head without her aid in men and money.”[667] Elizabeth’s notorious parsimony led her to deceive the French Protestants[185] with vague promises, a policy so short-sighted that it ultimately lost England the support of the Huguenots and compelled the evacuation of Havre-de-Grace, which otherwise they might have made another Calais. By February the admiral’s patience was well-nigh exhausted, and his troops in mutiny, the reiters raiding the country to such an extent that the court and the foreign ambassadors were compelled to retire from Chartres to Blois, not daring to try to go to Paris. As his position became more desperate from want of funds, Coligny determined to strike northward, if possible to effect a juncture with the English on the coast of Normandy, and so while his agents parleyed for peace in order to gain time and deceive the enemy, the admiral, leaving his wagons and baggage behind him in order that his reiters might ride unimpeded, stole away from Jargau on the night of February 1 with 2,000 reiters, 1,000 mounted arquebusiers, and 500 gentry. His purpose was to join Warwick, but when he reached Dreux, where the battle had been fought six weeks earlier, he discovered that it was impossible for him to cross the Seine, and hence, after sending word to the earl that he was in hard straits for money to pay his men and had “much ado to keep them together,” he drew off toward Caen.[668]

While Coligny lay at Dives, Throckmorton—it must have been against his own convictions—was sent to confer with him, informing him that if the admiral counted that the payment of his army and the support of the war depended upon Elizabeth alone, he was to understand that the people of England would not willingly contribute to such an expense, since the war was of little profit to them. Therefore Elizabeth advised the Huguenots not to refuse reasonable conditions of peace, the English queen including in the sphere of “reasonable conditions” Huguenot insistence that Calais be restored to England.[669]

In the meantime, while Coligny’s position was growing worse[186] and worse, the position of D’Andelot in Orleans had also become serious. The duke of Guise invested the city on February 4, and got possession of Portereau (February 6), a faubourg of Orleans across the river, which had been fortified during the previous summer. But the Huguenots still held the town at their end of the bridge and broke several of the arches down. A tiny island lay in the stream and this the duke planned to reach by filling thousands of sacks with sand and gravel and throwing them into the river between the banks at Portereau and the island from whence he would be more able to attack Orleans with cannon.[670] But it being winter time, the river was too deep and the current too strong. Failing this, he planned to cut the river above Orleans in order to let the water into the meadow lands.[671] The spirited siege lasted many days. Every kind of metal was impressed into service by those of Orleans, including shells made of brass, “which was a new device and very terrible,” and their ammunition seemed likely to outlast that of their enemy. The Catholic position around Orleans was by no means an enviable one. Food, money, and ammunition were lacking. All Guise’s men-at-arms and light horsemen lived at discretion—that is, they quartered themselves on the surrounding villages and forced the poor people of the country to feed them and their horses. The court was doing the same at Blois to the “marvellous destruction” of the country. The lack of powder bade fair to be fatal to the duke’s success, for the government’s powder factories at Chartres, Chateaudun, and Paris were all blown up, accidentally or otherwise, about this time, that of Paris having occurred on January 28, 1563, with great destruction of property and some lives.[672] In consequence of these[187] disasters, the Catholic artillery had to send all the way to Flanders for gunpowder. Although some breaches were made in the wall by the Catholics, the duke of Guise delayed final assault, for two reasons: first, because the queen mother hoped to take the city by composition, secondly, because Catholic reinforcements were looked for late in March out of Germany, Switzerland, and Gascony, to the number of ten thousand.

No such silver lining lightened the cloud on the Huguenot horizon. D’Andelot from Orleans, the princess of Condé, Eleanor de Roye, from Strasburg, her imprisoned husband, and Coligny all implored the English queen in vain for speedy relief. The admiral’s position by the end of February was desperate. He had been compelled to move into the western part of Normandy, for his 5,000 reiters were “in such rage for their money that he could scarce keep them together,” and were being so corrupted by the enemy that he might otherwise have lost them utterly.[673] Powder also was wanting.[674] The condition of Montgomery[675] in Dieppe and of Warwick in Havre was quite as bad. In Havre food was so scarce that rations were reduced to a two-penny loaf to four persons; wood was unprocurable; the water was bad.[676] The spoiling of Normandy from the devastation of Coligny’s reiters who were levying upon the country without law or order, and burning and destroying villages without regard to religion, was[188] terrible. “If the reiters understand that another messenger has arrived here (Caen) from the queen and the money not come,” wrote the admiral, “it will be impossible to save our throats from being cut.” Fortunately the very next day the English ambassador arrived in Caen with word for Coligny to the effect that eight thousand pounds in English sovereigns, French crowns, angels, and pistolets were on the way from Portsmouth to Caen.[677] Fire opened on Caen castle on March 1, and the next day the marquis D’Elbœuf surrendered it. Bayeux also capitulated.[678] The fall of these two places and the fearful state of the country,[679] might have broken the resolution of the crown to continue the war.[680] But another fate intervened.



(Tortorel and Perissin)

Henry of Guise was mortally wounded on the night of February 18, 1563, by a Huguenot assassin named Poltrot[681] and died on Ash Wednesday following, February 24. The death of the duke of Guise was a heavy blow to the Catholics. His following, because of his personal magnetism, was greater than that of any other Catholic leader, for many noblemen and gentlemen adhered to the Catholic cause more for love of him than for loyalty to the established religion. Moreover, he was an able general uniting quickness of intelligence, determination, experience, popularity, and physical endurance in his talented person. Immediately after Guise was hurt, the queen mother went to the camp with the desire to see the constable. The prince of Condé and the constable[190] were obviously the men of the hour, and as they could not conduct negotiations while they were prisoners, they were both liberated on March 8, and held a conference together on that day.[682] On March 19 the King, with the assent of his council, formally decreed religious toleration and appointed the prince of Condé lieutenant-general of the realm with exemption for seizure of any of the royal revenues by him during the troubles.[683] It was high time for peace to be made, for the revolt of the provinces was increasing. In La Rochelle, Poitou, Guyenne, and Picardy the “Howegenosys” had again rebelled in February, and the lieutenants of these provinces sent to Blois for aid.[684]


(Bib. Nat., Estampes, Histoire de France, Q. b)


The terms of Amboise are interesting because they mark the triumph of the aristocratic element in the Huguenot party, whose interests were identified with their political purposes and their feudal position, over the “Geneva party,” who were austere Calvinists, and who had an eye single to religion only.[685] D’Andelot, and to a less degree the admiral, were representatives of this latter group.[686] The terms of peace provided that the prince of Condé was to succeed to the place of the late king of Navarre; that the Huguenot army was to be paid by the government; that in all towns where the Reformed religion prevailed, save Paris, it was to be protected; that in every bailiwick the King was to appoint one town where the gospel might be preached; that all gentlemen holding fiefs in low or mean justice might have preaching in their houses for the benefit of their families; that all nobles enjoying high justice might have preaching on their estates; that property confiscated from either church was to be restored.[687] Paris firmly refused at first to tolerate any terms of peace,[688] its Catholic prejudices being aggravated by desire to revenge the murder of the duke of Guise; but the King replied to the demur of the Parlement[192] that the city must make up its mind to accept the conditions.[689] On the other hand, Lyons as obstinately refused to receive the mass, so that the country round about it remained turbulent well into the autumn.[690] Rouen, Dijon, Toulouse, encouraged by the opposition of the Parlement, refused to recognize the edict.[691] The roads were filled with robbers, and the continued presence of the reiters, to whom an enormous sum in wages was due, was a perpetual menace.

The Germans who had been in the service of the King and those of the prince of Condé fraternized on the road home. They made a great troop to the number of 10,000 or 12,000, taking the road from Orleans by way of Pluvières and Etampes to Paris, and arrived there in Easter week, where they stayed for five weeks at least. When they left they were an entire day crossing the bridge over the Seine, because of the enormous amount of baggage which they had. After having crossed the Seine, the reiters divided into two bands for better living, one of them skirting the right bank of the Seine, the other crossing Brie to the Marne, in order to find better provisions for themselves and their horses. These latter traversed Champagne to the River Aube and encamped at Montier-en-Der near Vassy for six entire weeks, marauding the country[193] for five or six leagues about. Their depredations drove the peasantry to such despair that protective associations composed of the peasantry and nobles were formed to resist their aggressions, and these fell upon stragglers whenever they found a little group of them, and cut their throats. Gradually, however, these despoilers were drawn off out of the land, being accompanied to the frontier by the French infantry under the command of the prince de Porcien, who was then at Metz, where he had been stationed to foil any effort the Emperor might make for its recovery.[692] The priest-historian of Provins has graphically depicted the depredations of the reiters:

At the beginning of this war [he says] the people of the villages were so rich and well provided for, so well furnished in their houses with all kinds of furniture, so well provided with poultry and animals, that it was noble to see.... But the soldiers destroyed their beautiful tables, their shining brass-bound chests, and killed a great quantity of poultry without paying for it, or else offering a paltry sum in proportion to the number of soldiers who were lodged in the house. It was all one whether one man or many were so lodged, because the soldier who had a house to himself seized everything to his own profit. The wives and daughters of the peasantry were compelled to defend their honor. Property was seized and every sort of villainy was done by the soldiers, within the space of the three or four days that they might remain at a place.[693]

Not since the Hundred Years’ War had France beheld a people more fearful and formidable than were these reiters. They plundered the wretched people of all their goods, loading their horses and wagons therewith. Amid their equipment they carried winnowing fans to winnow the grain, flails to beat it in the granges, and sacks to bind it up in. They had with them mills to grind the grain and little ovens to bake bread in. Wherever they lodged they tore up floors, broke into closets, and ransacked gardens,[194] courts, and chimneys, in order to find booty. They even fell upon the houses and châteaux of the nobles, where they passed, if they saw they were not strong or well defended.[694] For this reason those living in poorly fortified houses vacated them and fled to the towns. Those who owned strong and well-fortified houses levied soldiers for their defense. What happened at Provins happened, doubtless, in many other places, too.

In the carrefours of Provins, it was proclaimed that no inhabitant of the town, under pain of a fine of one hundred livres tournois and imprisonment, should leave it, and that every man at the hour of ten in the morning must report with his arms before the house of his sergeant (dizainier) for the purpose of mounting guard upon the walls, each in his own part of the city. Everybody in the surrounding country began to vacate their houses and to drive their cattle into the town. On the evening before Easter messengers of Provins reported that the reiters were near. At this news watchers were set upon the wall of the town, and a corps de garde posted by the town authorities. On the morning of the morrow, which was Easter Sunday, the gates of the town were not opened until eight o’clock, upon which there poured into the town an infinite number of wagons and pack-animals laden with the possessions of the villagers round about. There was hardly room to bestow so many people and so many animals. Divine service was celebrated in the parish churches, for it was expected that the reiters would take their course toward the town, and the people were resolved not to let them enter, but to resist to the very last drop of blood.

In order to ascertain what was the equipment and the arms of each inhabitant of the town, a general meeting was called at midday for a view of arms, but it was not possible to hold the meeting because all the streets and squares were packed with the refugees and their animals. In consequence of this, local meetings were held in each of the quarters of the city. Thus the day wore on and consternation abated only when it was learned that the reiters had gone off toward the Marne, which they crossed above Coulumiers On the morrow, Easter Monday, there was no procession in the streets as[195] usual, for fear of a surprise, and it was not until evening that the people who had found refuge within the town, began to depart.[695]

But the undisguised hostility of Spain to the Edict of Amboise was a greater source of danger to France than protests of the Parlement or popular violence. “If the heretics obtain their demands with the aid of the English queen,” Chantonnay had threatened on March 6, “the Catholics in their turn will rise, and they will be sustained by the King my master and by all the Catholic princes.”[696] But Catherine was in no mood to be intimidated. She openly told him that he treated her as if he governed the country, and charged him with wilful fabrication, sarcastically adding that she could excuse him for so doing in some degree because she knew from whom he derived his opinions, meaning the constable and the two deceased members of the Triumvirate.[697] Philip II’s religious convictions were outraged by the toleration of Calvinism allowed in the Edict of Amboise, the more so because the queen mother, in justification of the course of the government, compromised the church at large by declaring that the sole practical solution of the difficulty could be accomplished by a true general council of the church, and not by the one sitting at Trent, in defiance of whose conclusions she asserted the legality and inviolability of the edict.[698]

Catherine de Medici was deeply concerned over the conduct of the Council of Trent. For the programme of zealous advocates[196] of the counter-Reformation there aimed at church consolidation and the enlargement of papal authority to such an extent that the immemorial liberties of the Gallican church, confirmed by the great concordat of 1516, and the rights of the crown over the temporalities of the church in France were seriously threatened. The complication of the Huguenots with England and the murder of the duke of Guise had brought this issue to a head. In the month in which the duke was assassinated there was a significant meeting of the ambassadors of the ultra-Catholic powers resident at the French court, in which it was resolved to support the Council in matters of religion; to prevent future appropriation of church revenues by the state under pain of excommunication; to stamp out heresy; and to avenge the murder of the duke of Guise.[699] The cardinal of Lorraine was the chief representative of France at Trent and perhaps the most conspicuous prelate there. He was bitter against the policy of Charles IX, advocating utter suppression of the Huguenots. His continuance at Trent, therefore, became a danger to France and Catherine de Medici dexterously found means to remove him by sending him on special errands to Vienna and Venice, leaving the case of France at Trent in the hands of the sieur de Lansac, whose loyalty to the Catholic faith did not subvert his patriotism.[700]


Aside from his religious antagonism, Philip II regarded his own political interests as also jeopardized by the French situation. He was alarmed at the possible recovery of Calais by England,[701] and the progress of heresy and rebellion in the Netherlands, especially at Valenciennes and Tournay, was certain to be encouraged by the example of France, while a common effort of the Huguenots of Picardy and those of the religion across the Flemish border was seriously feared.[702]




The closure of the civil war was a necessary condition precedent to the war France now planned to wage with her “adversary of England” for the recovery of Havre-de-Grace. Catherine de Medici had paid Coligny’s reiters in order to close the chasm as soon as possible. The keen-witted representatives of Queen Elizabeth in France—Throckmorton and Smith—had done all in their power to diussade the Protestants from making peace.[704] Too late Elizabeth perceived the result of her procrastination. War between England and France over Havre was inevitable,[705] though in March the French government dissembled its real intention, giving the English to understand that the last portion of the fourth article of the peace, which referred to putting strangers out of the realm, applied to the German reiters.[706]

The English declared that if the French would restore Calais to the queen, Elizabeth would surrender Havre-de-Grace and Dieppe, with all that was held by the English in Normandy.[707] But the French contended that the English, having occupied Havre-de-Grace, were deprived of all right to Calais,[708] and declined to entertain such a proffer, hoping to recover Havre-de-Grace by force[709] and also to remain masters of Calais by virtue of the treaty[199] of 1559, which provided that if, during the term of the treaty, which was to endure for the space of eight years, the English acquired other possessions in France, they would immediately lose their right to Calais. To this England replied that France had been the first offender, when French troops were sent into Scotland in aid of Queen Mary; and that thereby the treaty was broken and Calais was due her. Elizabeth refused to see that her own selfish conduct had compelled the Huguenots to make terms, and bitterly upbraided the Huguenot leaders for their “desertion.”[710]

The determination to push the war proceeded entirely from the queen, the chief members of the government having opposed it both because of the strength of the fortress, which they thought difficult to take, and also because of the confusion which still prevailed in the kingdom. On April 7 the prince of Condé was established in the lieutenantship. Marshal Brissac, who was chief military commander, a week later quitted Paris for Normandy in company with the Swiss, and the whole artillery lately used before Orleans was sent forward.[711] Artillery and ammunition were sent by the river, and provisions also were forwarded. The campaign was delayed until this time for two reasons: first, to ascertain whether the internal disturbances could be quelled and the reiters gotten out of the kingdom, as otherwise it would have been perilous to make any movement in the direction of the coast; secondly, all the territory of Normandy had been so devasted by the war that[200] the army could not be maintained except at very great cost and inconvenience. Fortunately for the French government anxiety with reference to the Emperor’s designs regarding Metz was now removed, the cardinal of Lorraine having persuaded Ferdinand that if the Three Bishoprics were restored they would become a refuge for the heretics from Lower Germany and Luxembourg.[712]

The queen mother appealed to Paris to obtain 200,000 crowns, and a royal edict commanded the clergy to contribute 100,000 écus de rentes annual revenue.[713] At the same time a government octroi upon wines was laid for six years, to the dismay of many towns, which opposed the execution of the edict, claiming that the vine and wine were their sole means of livelihood.[714] The King also went to Parlement to obtain pecuniary supplies there against England, saying that the 200,000 crowns from the city was to be used to pay the reiters of the Rhinegrave, who had mutinied for their pay in Champagne, to quit the kingdom.[715] Paris readily responded, “the Parisians caring not what they gave to recover Newhaven;” it had been “a scourge and loss to them of many millions of francs” during that year.[716]

Meanwhile the position of Warwick in Havre had grown so[201] bad that he had expelled all strangers from the town.[717] Anticipating a siege, a new fosse 30 feet wide, 10 feet broad, and 8 feet deep had been constructed outside of the old ditch around the town. The delay of the English government, however, was fatal to the success of Warwick. All his labors went for naught.[718] On May 22 the French assault upon Havre began in earnest.[719] In the midst of the tedium and the anxiety Catherine de Medici dominated all, having no regard for her own convenience, but being in vigorous action at all hours, and under great mental strain most of the time. Yet her patience, her address, and her assiduous attention during the time of the siege to the councils of the government, and to her continual audiences, were remarkable. “Her Majesty,” wrote the Venetian ambassador, “exceeds all that could be expected from her sex, and even from an experienced man of valor, or from a powerful king and military captain.” She insisted on being present at all the assaults, and even in the trenches, where cannon-balls and arquebus-bullets were flying.[720]

The character of Catherine de Medici from this time forth, throughout her long and varied career, continued to fill her subjects with astonishment. Not even the most consummate courtier[202] could have praised her beauty. She had big eyes and thick lips, like Leo X, her great-uncle.[721] She possessed, too, the characteristics of her family. She loved to erect public edifices; to collect books. She made a profession of satisfying everybody, at least in words, of which she was not saving. Her industry in public business was the subject of astonishment. Nothing was too small for her notice. She could neither eat nor drink without talking politics. She followed the army without regard to her health or even her life. Her physical characteristics, if not the admiration, were certainly the wonder of all. She was fond of good-living, eating much and irregularly, and was addicted to physical exercise, especially hunting, which she also followed for the purpose of reducing her weight. With this design, incredible as it may seem, she often rode clad in heavy furs.[722] When fifty years of age she could walk so fast that no one in the court was willing to follow her.

The difficulties of the French in the siege of Havre-de-Grace were very great. The locality was surrounded for the distance of a mile by marsh and by the waters of the sea, which were cut by inaccessible canals. There was a strand of sand on the seaside only about thirty yards distant from the wall at low tide. The besiegers passed along the shore, somewhat concealed by the sand and gravel cast up by the sea, and wedged themselves and their artillery between this strand and the sea, and opened fire. By the end of July the French had approached so near the walls of Havre-de-Grace that they were almost able to batter them point-blank, and the besieged went out to parley and demanded four days’ time to communicate with England.[723]


Dated July 15, 1563. Original in Public Record Office, State Papers, Foreign, Elizabeth, Vol. XL, No. 919.


The garrison was reduced to a sorry plight, for the French were about to storm the place, as they had already battered effectually and dismantled a bulwark and several towers of the fort and filled up the whole moat, so that with but a little more work they would have opened a road for themselves securely with a spade. They had, moreover, a battery of forty cannon, so that while only twenty or thirty shots each day formed the usual feature of a siege at this time, the French now fired more than a hundred and twenty shots.[724] At last on July 28 Warwick agreed to surrender Havre-de-Grace, and to embark in four days. Two days later the English admiral Clinton appeared in sight, with thirty ships and five galliots. The French artillery was then directed toward the sea, so the admiral set sail the next evening with the fleet, and the French army entered on Sunday, August 1, 1563.[725]

The capture of Havre was of immense immediate advantage to France, especially to Normandy, Havre being the door through which all the traffic and commerce entered, not only to Rouen, but also to Normandy, and to a great part of France. Without this commerce Normandy-of-the-Seine suffered greatly.[726]

But Elizabeth was reluctant to believe that she had been beaten, and the autumn of the year witnessed tedious negotiations.[727] The chief difficulty between the two crowns turned on the restitution of Calais. The French insisted that they were absolved from the terms of Cateau-Cambrésis through the action taken by England in the matter of Havre-de-Grace; that thereby forfeiture of the[204] English right to Calais was made.[728] Elizabeth, on the other hand, would not make peace unless her pretensions were recognized.[729]

In the meanwhile, in the seas of Flanders, France, and England thousands of acts of piracy were committed, and trade in the Channel was quite interrupted.[730] A partial agreement at last was patched up. On April 11, 1564, the treaty of peace was signed at Troyes,[731] the articles yielding Havre-de-Grace to France, in return for 120,000 gold crowns, a sum which the English grudgingly took, though they had demanded a half million, the terms also providing for property indemnifications and freedom of commerce between the two nations.

Nothing was specified as to Calais. After three years of negotiations the question still remained unsettled. In June, 1567, Sir Thomas Smith, Elizabeth’s ambassador, demanded the restitution of Calais. Charles was evasive, saying that the messenger must be content to wait till the King had obtained the consent of his council, before whom the King told Smith openly that he would not restore Calais, but would hold it as the possession of his ancestors, to which the queen of England had no just right. When the ambassador replied, citing the word of the treaty, the chancellor answered that the promise had been given under the express conditions that the English queen should not in any way molest the subjects or territory of France or Scotland, but from what had taken place at Havre-de-Grace it appeared manifest that she had forfeited all claims which she might have had to Calais. The King’s rejoinder was notable in that it is so excellent an example of the French doctrine of “natural frontiers,” Charles IX[205] replying to the effect that the queen ought not to regret the loss of Calais, knowing that of old it was the possession of the crown of France, and that God had willed it to return to its first master, and that the two realms ought to remain content with the frontiers created for them by nature and with a boundary so clearly defined as the sea.[732]




Thanks to her own enterprise in pushing the war which had culminated with so much honor to France, and partly also to her skilful handling of the factions at court, Catherine de Medici was now in enjoyment of supreme power. The entire weight of the government rested on her shoulders, there being no longer any other person who controlled public affairs. The Guises and Châtillon factions were full of animosity toward one another, for Madame de Guise refused to recognize the admiral’s acquittal for the murder of her husband;[733] Montmorency was deeply offended because the young duke of Guise received the grand-mastership and the gift of the duchy of Châtellerault, and so feigned to have the gout in order to avoid service before Havre; Condé was doubly angry at the queen, both because she withheld the promised lieutenant’s commission and because the daughter of Marshal St. André, who left a great fortune, was not permitted to marry his son. The parties were, therefore, in a triangular relation toward one another and Catherine’s art was bent upon maintaining the balance in order to hold her own.[734]

The population of the wittiest city in Europe was quick to perceive the animosities and paradoxes that existed. “The Parisians have three things to wonder at,” the saying went, “the constable’s beads, the chancellor’s mass, and the cardinal Châtillon’s red cap. One is ever mumbling over his beads and his head[207] is ever occupied with other affairs; the other hears mass daily and is the chief Huguenot in France; the third wears a cardinal’s cap and defies the Pope.”[735] The queen mother had hoped that religious animosities would be forgotten in the course of the war with England. But she was disappointed. The peace of Amboise could not be enforced. Even in Paris armed troops and armed guards had to patrol the streets to prevent outbreaks of violence.[736] It was impossible to disarm the Catholics, who made house-to-house searches to ferret out Huguenots.[737] Under the terms of pacification the Protestants were permitted to return to Paris, but who dared avail himself of so precarious a liberty? Instead, they were compelled to sacrifice their property.[738] In the provinces the same condition of things prevailed—in Languedoc, in the Orléannais, in the Lyonnais.[739] In Languedoc the association of the Huguenots maintained its organization, raised money, levied troops.[740] Yet in spite of its failure to enforce pacification, the government required the demolition of the walls of towns known to be Huguenot strongholds, as Orleans, Montauban, and St. Lô, a procedure which the Protestants strongly resisted; so that a condition of petty civil war existed throughout much of France, the Edict of Amboise notwithstanding.[741] Summarized, the troubles of France at this time may be said to have been the feud between the house of Guise and that of Châtillon—a feud which compromised[208] the crown and most of the other great families of the kingdom; the queen’s ambition to govern, which led her to nourish the quarrel; religious intolerance; the poverty of the crown; the uncertainty of its foreign relations; and finally the detriment to its commerce on account of the war with England, which deprived France of four or five millions of gold.[742]

Even before peace was made between France and England it had been decided that the King should make a tour of the provinces for the better pacification of the country.[743] A programme of administrative and financial reform was developed at the same time. The army was to be reduced; in place of the royal garrisons there was to be a “belle milice” of forty ensigns of footmen, ten each in Picardy, Normandy, Languedoc, and Dauphiné. These troops were to be supported partly by the crown, partly by the provinces. The Scotch Guard was to be cut down. Through the church’s aid twelve millions of the public debt, including the unpaid balance of the dowries of Elizabeth of Spain and the duchess of Savoy, were to be paid off within six years and the alienated domains of the crown redeemed.[744] Already Charles IX’s majority had been declared at Rouen, during the course of the siege of Havre[745]—a dexterous stroke of the queen mother to thwart the ambitions of the factions.[746]


In the early spring of 1564 the court set out from Fontainebleau, and thence went to Sens and Troyes, where the peace was signed; from Troyes the way led to Bar-le-Duc and Nancy. But the journey of the King, instead of allaying the disquietude of the Huguenots, alarmed them still more. For the strongest overtures were made to the King to break the peace of Amboise, not only by provincial authorities[747] but also through the ambassadors of certain of the Catholic powers.

The Council of Trent had finished its labors with somewhat unseemly haste on December 4, 1563, on account of the anticipated decease of Pius IV,[748] and strong pressure was brought upon the French and Spanish governments to accept its findings.[749] The Pope, in consistory, accepted them in their integrity, on January 26, 1564.[750] But various European governments, especially France, strongly objected to the findings as prejudicial to the interests of monarchy.[751] On the first Monday in Lent the cardinal of Lorraine[210] presented the decrees of Trent to the King in council and others of the Parlement, urging that their adoption was necessary for the repose of the kingdom. The debate which followed, in a certain sense was a test of strength between the moderate Catholic party, led by the chancellor L’Hôpital and the Guises. Much objection was made to the findings, especially by the chancellor, who asserted that they were contrary to the privileges of the Gallican church, and that the cardinal’s party was now trying to compass by craft what they had failed to do by force of arms. The cardinal rejoined with words to the effect that L’Hôpital was unmindful of the benefits he had received of them (the Guises), using the word “ingrate” (ingrat). To this the chancellor haughtily returned that he had never received any benefits from the cardinal or his family, that he had only filled the post of maître de requêtes, which was not a high office, and that he did not desire to pay his debts at the expense of the King’s sovereignty by voting in favor of the decrees. In the end, France refused to accept all of the findings.[752]

With the closing of the Council of Trent, the representatives of the ultra-Catholic powers, notably Spain and Savoy, intimated to Charles IX that their sovereigns would assist him in the extirpation of heresy in France. The offer was both a promise and a menace, the implication being that the Catholic world at large would not tolerate the recognition of Protestantism accorded by France and that a joint action of the powers most concerned might compel the king of France to live up to his title of Most Christian King. The cardinal of Lorraine had carried the idea of the Triumvirate to Trent with him,[753] and on the floor of the Council had proposed the formation of an association to be called “The Brotherhood[211] of Catholics in France.” He offered to secure the co-operation of his nephews, relatives, and friends, and returned to France with the consent of the Pope for that purpose.[754] The Triumvirate, as we have seen, had already made overtures to Spain, to which Philip II had responded with cordial, if no very definite sentiments, and from the time of the promulgation of the Edict of January and the formation of the Triumvirate, the idea of a Catholic league in which the Pope and the king of Spain were to be the chief pillars, begins to take shape.[755] The mission of Louis de St. Gelais, sieur de Lansac, to Trent and Rome in this month, was partly to prevent the formation of such a league, and partly to persuade the Pope to approve the French government’s appropriation of the property of the church. Granvella was not unfavorable to the idea, though in his eyes such a league should be formed, not for the purpose of intervening in France, but as a defensive measure, lest Catherine endeavor to profit by the critical situation prevailing in the Spanish Netherlands and interfere there in order to divert the discontent of the French from home affairs, and to prevent the Protestants of the Netherlands from assisting their coreligionists in France.[756]

The outbreak of civil war after the massacre of Vassy and the seizure of Havre-de-Grace by the English had convinced Philip II that the time to act had come in France, and Spanish troops and Spanish money were put at the disposal of the Guises, although Philip denied to England that he was giving succor to Catholic France.[757] In May, and again in August of 1562, the Triumvirate appealed to Philip II,[758] and on June 6 the Spanish King wrote to the regent in the Netherlands to send the Triumvirate assistance. But[212] the order was easier to give than to execute, and exactly a month later (July 6) both Margaret and Granvella replied, asserting the impracticability of carrying out Philip’s wishes on the ground that no money could be procured from the estates for such a purpose.[759] In the meantime, the cardinal-legate in France, convinced that “in order to lay the ax at the root of the evil, there was no shorter way and no better expedient than recourse to arms,”[760] and impatient of Spain’s slow reply to the petition of the Triumvirate,[761] stirred up both the Vatican and the court of Madrid to livelier action.[762] As a result, although it was against their better judgment, Margaret and Granvella prevailed upon the Council of State in August to appropriate 50,000 écus for the war in France, and in September 3,000 Italians were sent from Franche Comté to the aid of Tavannes in Burgundy.[763]

The elements of the future Holy League are here manifest as early as 1561-62. But apart from the course being followed out in high political circles, at the same time, popular associations for the maintenance of the Catholic religion were being formed within France. The years 1562-63 witnessed the formation of[213] several provincial leagues and town associations, which were the real roots of the Holy League.

The people of the capital had begun to manifest their prejudices in an organized military form as early as 1562, and the government, instead of suppressing this tendency, encouraged it. On May 2, 1562, the Parlement of Paris passed an ordinance ordering the échevins and all loyal Catholics in each quarter of the city to organize under arms, with captains, corporals, and sergeants.[764] But the preponderance of Paris in the formation of the Holy League has been exaggerated. When it became a national affair, Paris, as the capital and most Catholic city of France, seized hold of it and made it her own. But it is inverting things to say that Paris gave the League to the provinces. Rather Paris identified herself with their interests, and reflected their passions and their character, “fierce in Languedoc, sullenly obstinate in Brittany, everywhere modified in its nature and its devotion by the politics of the towns.”[765]

The south of France was far more aggressive than the north in this particular, and anti-Protestant associations were formed in many provinces to the disquietude of the government, which knew not how to control them.[766] The earliest of such local associations formed by the Catholics seems to have been one of Bordeaux, where the people were organized after the Protestant attempt to gain possession of the Château Trompette in Francis II’s reign.[767][214] This association formed in Bordeaux is the germ of the Catholic League which later expanded over the Bordelais and Gascony. Other portions of France followed suit. In November, 1562, the Association of Provence was formed at Aix and terrorized the Huguenots.[768] Toulouse was notoriously Catholic, and street wars between Catholics and Protestants were of common occurrence. A more than usually violent outburst of popular fury here culminated on March 2, 1563, in the formation of a Catholic League, of which the cardinals Armagnac and Strozzi, lieutenants of the King in the sénéschaussées of Toulouse and Albi, the president of the Parlement, Du Faur, who was advocate-general of the crown, certain eminent knights of the Order, and the famous Montluc, were sponsors. The immediate occasion of this outbreak at Toulouse seems to have been the combination of fury and fear of a plot which the Catholics felt when they learned of the duke of Guise’s assassination. When the outbreak began, the president of the Parlement of Toulouse hastily dispatched a messenger to Montluc entreating him to come to their assistance. Upon Montluc’s arrival at Toulouse the leaders prayed him to put himself at the head of the troops in the province against the Huguenots.

Montluc at first made some difficulty about consenting to this request, because he had no permission from Damville, the governor of Languedoc, in which province Toulouse was located, and who, moreover, was not one of his friends.[769] Finally, however, he[215] yielded to their request, and measures were taken to put an army on foot in thirty days. Those who composed this assembly drew up the compact of a league or association on March 2, 1563, which was to be observed by the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate in the towns and dioceses within the jurisdiction of the parlement of Toulouse, both in Languedoc and Guyenne. According to the articles of this association the members engaged to bear arms, and to make oath between the hands of those commissioned by the Parlement, or by the King’s lieutenant in the country, to march whenever required for the defense of the Catholic religion. The parlement of Toulouse approved and authorized this association on March 20, provisionally and without charges, “subject to the good pleasure of the King.” In the name of this league taxes were laid, men were levied, and an inventory of arms made in every généralité and diocese.[770]

Montluc had come to Toulouse, fresh from the formation of another and earlier league for the preservation of the Catholic faith, in Agen, which had been organized on February 4, 1563. This league was a direct consequence of the siege of Lectoure and the battle of Vergt. Montluc had received orders to report, with the marshal Termes, to the King in the camp before Orleans. But the Agenois was not quite pacified and the gentry of the country were so filled with alarm, that they concluded, so Montluc naïvely says, “that in case I should resolve to go away to the King, as his Majesty commanded, and offer to leave them without a head, they must be fain to detain me in the nature of a prisoner.”[771] The upshot of things was that the “Confederation and Association of the town and city of Agen and other towns and jurisdictions of[216] Agen” was formed and organized on February 4, 1563, with a captain, lieutenant, sergeants, corporals, and other necessary officers, in order to extirpate the Huguenots from the region. It was an oath-bound covenant.[772]

The examples of Agen and Toulouse were contagious, and the popular hatred of the Huguenots, on account of the assassination of the duke of Guise, induced the spread of these local leagues. On March 13, 1563, the Catholic lords of Guyenne also entered into a league at Cadillac on the same plan and for the same object as that of the Catholics of Agen and Languedoc.[773] Like the earlier ones, the league of Guyenne was organized by parishes, districts, sénéschaussées and provinces, under the direction of one supreme chief assisted by a council chosen from the third estate. In the north of France, as has been observed, the tendency of the Catholics to associate was not so strong as in the south. There is evidence of a weak association of the Catholics in the towns of the Rouennais and the lower part of the Ile-de-France in 1563,[774] and of a town league in Anjou and Maine.[775] But no formidable Catholic association was formed north of the Loire, until the appearance of the Confrérie du St. Esprit in 1568, under the marshal Tavannes.

The nucleus of many of these Catholic associations, before they expanded into provincial leagues, in most cases seems to have been a local guild or confraternity[776] of some nature. These were[217] closely connected with the body of tradesmen, each trade having its patron saint, its sacred banner, and devoted bands; but some of the more aristocratic people were joined with the artisans. The members had fixed places of meeting and certain days on which to assemble, common exercises, and often a common meal. They swore to use their wealth and their life, if need be, for the defense of their faith.[777]

The new rôle now begun to be played by these ancient guilds is an interesting phase of the religious wars. If France in the sixteenth century was laboring in the throes of a religious revolution, she was also in a state of industrial transformation. In origin the economic revolution was independent of the Reformation, yet so influential were its social and economic effects upon the Reformation that in a very true sense the religious movement may be said to have been the subordinate one.[778] The identity and fulness of this change in the old order of things coincides with the Reformation, which in large part became the vehicle of its expression. The crisis coincides with the reign of Charles IX and Henry III, although the beginnings of it are very manifest in the time of Louis XI (cf. the ordinances of 1467, 1474-76, 1479). The change particularly involved the guilds, whose traditional practices had now reached the point of an industrial tyranny. More and more, from the middle of the fifteenth century, control of the guilds had tended to fall into the hands of a few. This growth of a social hierarchy within the guilds had serious political and economic results. For inasmuch as city government was so largely an out-growth of guild life, this exclusiveness threw political control of the cities into the hands of a “ring” composed of the upper bourgeoisie, who formed an[218] oligarchy and gradually squeezed the lower classes out of all participation in the government. The general body of the commonalty everywhere, in France, in Germany, in England, tended to disappear or to be replaced by a select group from the inner circle of the guild. The lower bourgeoisie was shut out of the council at Nevers in 1512, at Sens in 1530, at Rheims in 1595.

But the economic revolution implied in this change was of far greater importance than the political. The gens de métier became a monopolist, a capitalist class, controlling the “hoards” of the guilds as well as being the ruling class in local politics. The old guild was transformed into a mercantile association, operated in favor of a few rich families who were possessed of capital and regulated wages and fixed the term of apprenticeship to their own advantage. In order to secure cheap labor the masters increased the number of apprentices, lengthened the time of service, raised the requirements of the chef-d’œuvre, made membership in the guild increasingly difficult, and reduced wages by employing raw, underpaid workmen in competition with skilled labor. The result was that the distance widened continually between the upper and lower working classes.[779] The social democracy and honorable estate of guild life, as it had been in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, passed away and was replaced by a strife between labor and capital, between organized labor and free labor, which brings the sixteenth century, remote as it is in time, very near to us in certain of its economic conditions.

To be sure there were some things which partially neutralized this antagonism, such as better facility in communication, the increase of production, the activity of exchange, the invention of new industrial processes, and the opening of new industries, notably printing and silk manufacture.[780] But nothing compensated the workman for the rise in the price of necessities of life due to the influx of gold and silver from America, for his wages[219] did not rise in proportion. In consequence the cleavage grew more and more sharp. The result of this tendency was that poor workmen, despairing of getting economic justice from the guilds, took to working in their own quarters. So common was this practice in the sixteenth century that a new word was coined to define this unapprenticed class—- chambrelons. These plied their trades in their own houses and sold the product of their handicraft anywhere. As early as 1457, and again in 1467, the masters complain of this practice.[781] It is easy to understand the disastrous influence of this new form of industry upon guild labor, since the new class of workmen was not subject either to the same money charges or to the same restrictive regulations. It was “unfair” competition for the old order of things which reposed upon the maintenance of an economic equilibrium between demand and supply, between labor and capital, was upset by the new tendencies.

To the toiling masses trodden down by the masters and economically tyrannized over, the Reformation came as the first organized movement of discontent, and hosts of dissatisfied workmen throughout Germany and France hastened to identify themselves with Protestantism, not for religious reasons, but because the Reformation constituted exactly that for which they were seeking—a protest. The situation was further aggravated by the influx of foreign workmen, chiefly from Germany, where this economic revolution was earlier and more fully developed than elsewhere in Europe, in great industrial centers like Nürnberg, and where small German workmen were more completely shut out than was the case in France or England. These men—such as cobblers, shoemakers, carpenters, wool-carders, and other simple artisans—wandered over the country from one province to another,[220] carrying the economic gospel of free labor and the religion of Lutheranism with them. Naturally they imbued their French fellow-workmen with their sentiments—and to such an extent that for years, during the early course of the civil wars, the Huguenots were commonly called “Lutherans.” Before 1560, the greater portion of the Protestant party was made up of woolcombers, fullers, drapers, weavers, shoemakers, hosiers, dyers, tailors, hatters, joiners, glaziers, bookbinders, locksmiths, cutlers, pewterers, coopers, etc.[782] Even as late as 1572, when the Huguenot movement had for twelve years been led by noblemen like the Châtillons and the Rohans, the Venetian ambassador still characterized the Huguenots as “a sect which consists for the most part of craftsmen, as cobblers, tailors, and such ignorant people.”[783]

Coupled with this religious and economic revolution, went also a change in the manners of society, which pervaded all classes—a change which began in the reign of Francis I and was continued under Henry II. The new internationalism of France, due to the Italian wars, was probably the initial cause of this. Returned soldiers, laden with the pay of booty of warfare, brought back into[221] France the manners and customs of Italy, which commingled with the manners and customs introduced by wandering workmen from Germany and Switzerland.[784]

The revision of the statutes of the guilds was one of the minor features of the reform programme of the political Huguenots in the States-General of Orleans, and the Cahier-général of the third estate which was compiled from the local cahiers presented by the deputies shows traces of the interest of France at large in the issue. Unfortunately these fuller local records are lost.[785] But this revision only looked to a modernizing of the mediaeval language of the ordonnances, which chiefly dated from the fourteenth century, and did not contemplate an entire recasting of them, so as to make them harmonize with the new industrial conditions. Only one man in the assembly seems to have appreciated the real condition of things. This was the chancellor L’Hôpital. Not content with the mild reorganization of the guilds recommended by the third estate, on the last day of the session, January 31, 1561, the chancellor drew up the famous ordinance of Orleans.[786] The intent of this statute was indirectly to restrain the enlarged economic tyranny of the guilds, to lessen the burden of apprenticeship, and to establish freer laboring conditions. This purpose the government[222] aimed to attain by dissolving the confraternities, for by striking at these it really struck the guilds, since many of these associations were one and the same. No distinction was made between associations whose character was religious or charitable, and those composed of patrons and workingmen; all the confraternities were grouped together and governmental supervision was provided for. They were not legislated out of existence by the new action, but reduced to a partial dissolution. Their accumulated hoards of capital were ordered to be expended for the support of schools and hospitals and similar institutions in the towns and villages where these various guilds were, and only a limited amount of money was left in their hands. The municipal officers, in co-operation with those of the crown were made personally responsible for the execution of this measure in every bailiwick. It is important to notice the significance of this course. The government, in fact, was pursuing a policy of partial secularization of the property of these confraternities for the benefit of the people at large, and compelling distribution of the great sums locked up in the hands of the guilds in much the same way that the church had come to possess enormous sums in mortmain. This legislation, if it had really been effective, would have destroyed the guilds.

The guilds thus put upon the defensive, owing to the reforming policy of the crown and the political Huguenots, sought to save themselves by pleading that they were religious associations. By this adroit movement they gained the support of the Catholic party. But the crown refused to yield, and we find the Confréries de métiers directly supervised in letters-patent of February 5, 1562, and December 14, 1565. Coupled with these measures, we find others forbidding banquets, festivals, and like celebrations (edicts of December 11, 1566, and of February 4, 1567) which by this time had become centers of religious agitation among the Catholics. But the government could not maintain its course. The identification of the guilds and confraternities with the Catholic party gave them great and unexpected support. Under the new order of things they became the nuclei of local and provincial Catholic[223] leagues.[787] In other words, the labor party became identified with the Huguenots, while the upper bourgeoisie, controlling the guilds, adhered to the Catholic cause—at Rouen in 1560 the merchants actually declared a lock-out against workmen who attended preachings[788]—and became the nuclei of the provincial leagues, exactly as in France in 1793 every Jacobin club became an arm of the Terror government.

It was said at the time, and has often been asserted since, that these local Catholic leagues were but protective associations in the beginning and formed to repel Huguenot violence.[789] The Huguenots practiced as violent methods as their religious opponents and their offenses were as numerous; but with the exception of the Huguenot association in Dauphiné, there is no early example of a Protestant association similar to the leagues of the Catholics[224] in the provinces. The Protestant local organizations were not so highly developed, in a military sense, as early as this, nor were they of the same form as those of the Catholics. Montluc himself, than whom there is no better judge, testifies that in the war in Guyenne in 1562 “they showed themselves to be novices, and indeed they were guided by their ministers.” The Protestants had a sort of triumvirate, it is true, in the two Châtillon brothers, and the prince of Condé, but their work only remotely partakes of the policy of the real Triumvirate; even their appeal to Elizabeth did not contemplate such radical conduct as the Triumvirate displayed.[790]

No Huguenot leader ever thought of subordinating the government of France to a foreign ruler for the maintenance of the faith he believed in,[791] as the Guises, Montmorency, and St. André did. Condé’s declaration that the civil war was caused by the Triumvirate’s action had much truth in it. The rules of the association which the Huguenots formed at Orleans, on April 11, 1562, were as much a body of military regulations for the discipline of the army as they were a political compact, as a reading of the articles will prove.[792] There was little of the politico-military character of[225] the Catholic leagues about it. It is not until after the Bayonne episode that we find a solid federation of the Reformed churches beginning to form, and the first test of the Protestant organization was made at the beginning of the second civil war.[793] This is not the place, however, to dwell upon its development. In due time the subject will be taken up.

The edict confirming the act of pacification (March 19, 1563) in its sixth article forbade the formation of any leagues in the future, and ordered the dissolution of those already in existence.[794] This prohibition was a dead letter from the beginning. The government not only was unable to prevent the formation of new leagues; it was even unable to suppress those already in existence.[795] When the first civil war ended, there were three well-organized Catholic leagues in southern France, namely those of Provence, of Toulouse, and of Agen. Catherine de Medici, who, for some months to come, continued to give substantial manifestation of her desire for peace,[796] in announcing the act of Amboise to Montluc,[226] demanded the dissolution of these associations. Instead of so doing, however, Candalle, Montluc’s chief agent in Guyenne, continued his activities. On March 13, 1563, as has been noticed, in defiance of the impending edict of pacification (which was completed and only awaited promulgation) the Catholic seigneurs of Guyenne, at Cadillac (near Bordeaux) entered into a league identical in purpose and in form with those of Agen and Languedoc.[797] This league, which is the germ of that which spread over Gascony, seems to have been denounced to the government by Lagebaston, the president of the parlement of Bordeaux, between whom and Montluc there was friction, partly because of Montluc’s preference for Agen as a working capital for the region, partly because of his notorious dislike of the lawyer class, whose disposition to regard forms of law and vested right interfered with Montluc’s high-handed and arbitrary management of affairs.[798] This new league in such glaring violation of the edict, called forth a sharp letter of rebuke from the queen mother to Montluc on March 31. After alluding in a general way to “les maulx” due to the existence of “les partialitez et les associations, qui se sont faictes” she says:

J’ay esté advertye qu’il s’en est faicte une autre en la Guyenne dont est chef Monsieur de Candalle, laquelle encores qu’elle ayt esté faicte à bonne intention durant la guerre, si n’est-ce que, cessant la dicte guerre et se faisant la paix, elle n’est plus nécessaire et ne la peult ung roy trouver bonne, ny que ceulx qui veullent estre estimez obéyssans ne peuvent soustenir sans encourir le mesme cryme de rebellion dont ilz ont accusé leurs adversaires. Et pour ceste cause, et que le Roy monsieur mon filz n’est pas délibéré d’en souffrir plus aucun, de quelque costé qu’elle procedde ny permectre plus à ses subjectz, de quelque religion qu’ilz soient, d’avoir autre association qu’avec luy[227] et selon son obéyssance, il fault, Monsieur de Monluc, que, pour le bien de son service, comme il le vous commande expressément par ses lettres, que vous, qui estes son lieutenant-général par delà, faciez rompre celle qui s’est faicte sans permectre qu’ilz ayent aucune force, puissance ou authorité que celle que vous leur baillerez, ny aucune volunté que d’obéyr à ce que par vous, pour le bien du service du Roy monsieur mon filz, leur sera commandé; pour lequel effect j’en scriptz, comme faict le Roy monsieur mon filz, une lectre audit sr de Candalle et à tous ceulx qui y sont comprins, comme nous en avons esté bien amplement advertiz.[799]

Until the ambition of the Guises created an opposition to them among the old-line nobility, and so identified the Huguenot movement with the interests of the aristocracy,[800] the French Reformation found its chief support among the lower bourgeois class in the towns. The proportion naturally varied from place to place. Lyons, partly from its proximity to Geneva, but more because of its strong commercial position and its great manufacturing interests, among which the silk industry was of most importance, was the greatest Huguenot city in France.[801] Where we find Protestantism prevailing in feudal districts, it is largely to be ascribed to[228] the influence of Protestant gentleman-farmers, often retired bourgeois, who purchased the county estates of the older nobility who had been bankrupted by the wars in Italy and Flanders, or else preferred to live at court. The strongholds of French Protestantism were the river towns, on the highways of trade, or sea-ports like Rouen and La Rochelle. Dauphiné, which fattened on the commerce out of Italy through the Alpine passes, and Provence which bordered the Mediterranean, both of which “cleared” through Lyons; Lower Poitou, where La Rochelle was, and Normandy on the Channel were the chief Protestant provinces of France. Normandy was probably the most Protestant province of all, for here Calvinism not only obtained in the ports and “good” towns, but in the country areas as well.[802]

But there are evidences of the penetration of Protestantism into the country districts elsewhere as well—in Orléannais, Nivernais, Blésois, the diocese of Nîmes and even in isolated parts of Champagne and Gascony.[803] In general, however, the French peasantry were strongly Catholic.

The reason for this is, first, a social one: while the revolution of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was ruinous for the artisan, it was profitable to the peasant. The rent paid to the landlord, immutably fixed in the twelfth or thirteenth century, represented under the new values of money a very light burden, while the fall in the price of silver considerably raised the nominal worth of the products of the soil, when the villein sold them. The price of land was falling rapidly at the very time when the French gentry, ceasing to be[229] an aristocracy of gentlemen-farmers and becoming a court-nobility, were compelled to sell their estates to meet their expenses and, as was said, to put their mills and meadows on their shoulders. When a lord wished to sell at any price a part of his estates, there was always, in the parish, a countryman who had been, as one may say, saving money for centuries, and who, realizing at last the dream of bygone generations, bought land. Thus did the French villein become a landowner. The reign of Louis XII and the beginning of that of Francis I was for the French peasants an epoch of real prosperity; his situation presented a striking contrast with that of the German peasant who, at the same date, was in danger of relapsing into bondage. We may easily understand why there was not in France, as in Germany, a peasants’ revolution both social and religious.[804]

But there are other reasons for the religious growth of the Huguenot cause among the people not so hard to find. Their ministers preached in the French language and avoided the use of Latin, which tended to mystery and obscurity; after sermons the service was continued with prayer and the singing of psalms in French rhyme, with vocal and instrumental music in which the congregation joined. In their church polity, the Huguenots had carried changes farther than had the Reformation elsewhere in Europe. In Germany and England the Reformation still adhered to many of the institutions of the mediaeval church, retaining the episcopate and inferior clergy, as deacons, archdeacons, canons, curates, together with vestures, canonical habits, and the use of ornaments.[805]

No reliable estimate can be made of the proportion between Catholics and Huguenots in the sixteenth century. A remonstrance of 1562 to the Pope declared that one-fourth of France was separate from the communion of Rome.[806] The Venetian[230] ambassador thought “hardly a third part of the people heretical” in 1567.[807] The échevins of Amiens declared three-quarters of the inhabitants of Amiens were Protestant in the same year.[808] Charles IX in a remonstrance to Pius IV asserted that a fourth part of France was Protestant.[809] Montluc, no mean observer, estimated that one-tenth of the population of Guyenne was Protestant.[810] If this proportion be applied to France at large, the Huguenots would have numbered something like 1,600,000. Beza, who presided over the synod of La Rochelle in 1571, claimed that the Huguenots had 2,150 congregations, some of them very large, as in the case of the church of Orleans, which was said to have 7,000 members. At the time of the Colloquy of Poissy, Normandy was said to have 305 pastors, Provence 60.[811] But the number of Huguenots in Normandy, Provence, or the Orléannais was exceptionally large. The average congregation must have been small. If we assume that the population of France was sixteen millions[812] and that one-tenth of the people were Calvinist, we would have a total of 1,600,000 Protestants for all France, which would give an average of about 750 members to each congregation on the basis of Beza’s statement as to the number of the Huguenot churches. This is certainly much too high a figure. Personally I believe the average was less than half of this. If the congregation averaged 400 members each, on Beza’s calculation there would have been[231] 860,000 Huguenots in France. A Venetian source of the year 1562 sets the number at 600,000.[813] This may be too low, but all things considered, I believe it not far from the truth. The total Protestant population of France I do not believe to have exceeded three-quarters of a million before 1572, and after that date it is often difficult to distinguish between Huguenots and Politiques.

Such was the state of things when the first civil war came to an end.




“I am always en voyage,” wrote the Venetian ambassador to the senate. “Since the beginning of my embassy the King has not staid more than fifteen days in any one place. He goes from Lorraine to Poitou, and then to Normandy and the edge of Belgium, back again to Normandy, then to Paris, Picardy, Champagne, Burgundy.”[815] Dr. Dale wrote in the same strain to Lord Burghley: “The Spanish ambassador has a saying that ambassadors in France are eaten up by their horses, since they are constrained to keep so many because of the habit of the court of moving from place to place continually.”[816]

But there was point to Charles IX’s famous tour of the provinces in 1564-66. The unsettled condition of the country, if no other reason, accounts for Catherine’s great design of completing the pacification of the kingdom by having the King tour the realm. The route lay through Sens[817] (March 15) to Troyes (March 23)[818] where the peace with England was signed on April 13; thence to Châlons-sur-Marne, Bar-le-Duc, Dijon (May 15), Macon (June 8), and thence to Lyons, where the court arrived on June 13. The King traveled with his ordinary train, that is, with his mother, his brother, the duke of Anjou, the constable, and the archers of the guard, in order to spare the people the burden of great entertainment, and those princes and nobles who wished to follow were accompanied only by their ordinary servants.[819] If the Huguenots viewed the King’s sojourn at Bar-le-Duc with apprehension,[820] it was not without anxiety that his Catholic subjects saw Charles IX visit the great city located at the junction of the Rhone and the Saône rivers.[821] Lyons seems to have imbibed something of Calvinism from the very waters of the arrowy river whose source was the lake of the citadel of Calvinism.[822] The rumor was current that a greater conspiracy than that of Amboise was on foot; that the King and queen were to be deposed and slain, and that Lyons would unite with Geneva to form a greater Calvinistic republic.[823]


But Lyons welcomed the King graciously, and gave him sumptuous accommodation.[824] Charles was charmed with the reception given him and amazed at the wealth and commercial prosperity of the city.[825] Situated at the confluence of the Rhone and the[234] Saône rivers, the wines and grain of Burgundy came to Lyons for market, while it was the natural entrepôt of the commerce out of Italy, besides much that came from Spain and Flanders. There were four fairs there each year. The great industry of the city was silk manufacturing. In 1450 Charles VII had granted it the monopoly in this. Francis I in 1536 relieved the silk operatives of all taxes and military service. The bulk of the commerce was in the hands of Italians, of whom there were said to be above twelve thousand in the city—chiefly Florentines, Genoese, and Milanese.[826] There were also many Germans and Swiss, whose presence gave the governor, the duke of Nemours,[827] great anxiety, because large quantities of arms were smuggled into the city in the guise of merchandise.[828]

The court had not been long upon its tour through the provinces before Catherine de Medici discovered that the petition of the estates of Burgundy for the abolition of Protestant worship was not merely a local prejudice, but the sense of the provinces.[829] The elements of this public opinion were various: The clergy—not all, however—wanted the findings of the Council of Trent accepted in toto; all of them were dissatisfied with the recognition of the rights of the Protestants; the alienation of their lands was a grievance to the clergy, the more so because speculators had bought them at a low price because of the doubt as to the validity[235] of the title.[830] The Guises were angry that the prosecution of Coligny for the murder of the duke had been abandoned.[831] Among high and low alike there were unprincipled folk who had hopes of profiting by confiscations and forfeitures imposed upon the Huguenots.[832]

The queen mother was too good a politician not to pay heed to these signs of popular feeling, more especially as the voice of the provinces chimed with those in high authority, who not only urged that the war be renewed against the Protestants but also hinted broadly of foreign support in aid of the crown. At first Catherine answered graciously, yet guardedly, to the effect that a peace which had been so solemnly made, by the advice of the princes of the blood and the council, could not be too lightly cast aside.

The miserable effects of the war were everywhere evident. Agriculture had almost ceased in a country famous for its fertility, and the whole country had been so plundered and harassed by both parties that the poor people, being stripped of all their substance, often preferred to fly to the forests rather than to remain continually exposed to the mercy of their enemies. Wandering soldiers and dissolute women, with stolen goods in their possession, infested the roads.[833] As to trade and manufacturing, the mechanic arts still were plied only in the largest and strongest towns; even here merchants and tradesmen had shut up shop and gone off to war, not always out of religious zeal, but in the hope of enriching themselves by spoliation. The nobility were divided; the clergy incensed. The civil war had been accompanied by the attendant aids of violence, robbery, murder, rape, and justice had not been[236] administered in the courts for months. The very methods resorted to for the preservation of religion rendered it hateful in the eyes of many men of both parties. Both parties were bigoted in belief and in practice. The iconoclasm of the Protestants, who tore down church edifices hoary with age and sanctified by tradition, expelling the inmates, both male and female, if doing them no worse injury, familiarized society with changes wrought by violence and made the people callous to one of the most precious possessions of a nation—a reverence for tradition.[834]

To all these difficulties the prevalence of the plague must be added. Since the century of the Black Death Europe had not so suffered from this scourge as in the sixteenth. It recurred intermittently, being especially violent in the years 1531, 1533, 1544, 1546, 1548, 1553, 1562-64, 1568, 1577-80.[835] No part of Europe was spared. France, England, Spain, the Low Countries, Germany, and Italy, all suffered. But certain portions of France suffered more than others, as Bas-Languedoc, Provence, the Lyonnais, Burgundy, Champagne, the Ile-de-France, and Normandy. The west and especially the southwest were relatively exempt. Apparently the disease followed the trades-routes along the river valleys, for Toulouse, Lyons, Châlons-sur-Saône, Macon, Châlons-sur-Marne, Langres, Bourges, La Charité, Orleans, Tours, Moulins, Sens, Melun, Dijon, Troyes, Château-Thierry, Soissons, Beauvais, Pontoise, Paris, Rouen, and the Norman ports suffered most.[836] As always, Italy was the immediate source of the epidemic, which was communicated from place to place by the movements[237] of trade. Lyons paid dearly for its commercial pre-eminence, for the ravages of the plague were terrible there.[837] It was at its height when the court was there in July, 1564. The English ambassador, Smith, gives a fearful picture of the state of the city. Men died in the street before his lodgings. His servant who went daily for his provisions sometimes saw ten and twelve corpses, some naked, lying in the streets where they lay till “men clothed in yellow” removed them. A great many bodies were cast into the river, “because they will not be at the cost to make graves. This day,” he writes on July 12, “from break of day till ten o’clock there laid a man naked in the street, groaning and drawing his last breath, not yet dead. Round the town there are tents of the pestiferous, besides those which are shut up in their houses.”[838] Almost every third house was closed because of the plague. The city authorities vainly tried to combat the disease by providing that visits were to be made twice a day by those appointed; but as there were but five “master surgeons” in the whole city, medical attention must have been slight. Persons affected with the plague were to be removed to the hospital—the oldest and one of the best in Europe at that time. Corpses were to be buried at night and the clothes of the dead burned.[839] “About the Rhone men dare eat no fish nor fishers lay their engines and nets, because instead of fish they take up the pestiferous carcasses which are thrown in.” New sanitary regulations were made. All filth was to be cast into the river and not allowed to pollute the streets or the river banks. Fires of scented wood were kept burning between every ten houses in the street. Pigs and other animals were not allowed at large. Meat, fish, and vegetable stalls were to be inspected and all decayed provisions destroyed.[840]

It is interesting to observe the efforts made by local authorities to prevent the spread of the disease and the relief measures that[238] were taken. As soon as the plague was discovered, the town authorities usually set guards to watch the houses of those stricken and appointed barbers and gravediggers to treat ill and to inter the dead. These attendants were supported and paid by a tax laid upon the town. Those who were ill were sent to a house of isolation appointed to be a hospital, which was often upon the walls of the town, remote from the people. In Provins the church and cemetery were immediately adjacent to the hospital! The mortality was great. In Provins in 1562 there were eighty persons stricken, of whom sixty died, among them four of the attendants. Two of the barber-surgeons refused to serve and were proceeded against by the town bailiff and were hanged in effigy because the principals in the case had made their escape. Diseased houses were sprinkled with perfumes and aromatic herbs were burned in them in order to purify them.[841] As always, the dislocation of society and the depravation of morals worked havoc in the community. Crimes of violence were common.[842]

Little by little, however, this picture of misery faded into the background of the queen’s mind and the question of political expediency, which was always the lodestar of her policy, became her primary consideration.[843] The Catholics plucked up courage as the court progressed[844] and Huguenot suspicion of the queen’s course was early aroused. Shortly after the tour of the provinces had begun, and while the court was still at Troyes pending the signature of the treaty of peace, there was a jar between D’Andelot and the queen mother, who would not permit him to choose his own captains and other officers as was customarily permitted to colonels.[239] Partially in consequence of this affront, and partially to avoid being compromised more with Queen Elizabeth, D’Andelot, the prince of Condé, and the cardinal Châtillon all remained away from the sessions of the council while the terms of peace were under consideration, and when the court resumed its migration, no one of these attended it.[845] Indeed, after the court left Châlons-sur-Marne, so wide was the breach between the prince of Condé, the admiral and all of that faction, and the court, that the chancellor L’Hôpital was the only official who continued to treat them with deference.[846] The consideration shown Jeanne d’Albret only partially relieved the suspicions of the Protestants.[847]

We find the anxiety of the Protestants over the situation reflected in the proceedings of the provincial synod of the Reformed churches of the region through which the court had been traveling during this season, namely the churches of Champagne, Brie, Picardy, the Ile-de-France, and the French Vexin.[848] This synod assembled on April 27, 1564, at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, and was composed of forty-five ministers. Letters were read from many parts of France and abroad, among which was one from Beza bidding the Huguenots to be on their guard as the priests were contributing money for the purpose of rooting out the truth. It was agreed by the body to reply that the Protestants were suspicious of the intentions of the queen mother.[849] In its resolutions the synod condemned the policy of the magistrates who cloaked their religious animosity under the guise of the law,[850] and complained that the Catholics were[240] carrying the King about the country in order to show him the ruin of their churches.[851] The moderate La Roche even went so far as to declare that the Reformed church never could have peace while the queen mother governed.

Justice and historical accuracy, however, require that it be said that the Huguenots’ own conduct was sometimes in violation of the privileges granted them by the Edict of Amboise. Their iconoclasm toward the images and the pictures which the Catholics considered sacred was outrageous; they failed to confine their worship to authorized places, so that the magistrates were acting within their rights in so far repressing Protestant worship; their provincial synods not infrequently were inflammatory political assemblies.[852] On the other hand, the Catholics wilfully molested the Huguenots, interfering in their congregations, and compelling them to pay tithes and other dues for the support of the Catholic poor and even—Castelnau says—to support their provincial leagues.[853]

But the Huguenots went too far in their suspicion of the government. Beza, at the synod of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre had been apprehensive of a joint attack of France and Savoy upon Geneva, not knowing that the French aim was to renew the alliance with the Catholic cantons in order to prevent Spanish ascendency there.[854] Bern and Zurich were the pillars of French ascendency in the Alpine country. France counted upon them more than upon all else to prevent Spanish recruiting, and to close the Alpine passes to Spain’s army. To this end Bellièvre, the marshal Vieilleville,[241] and the bishop of Limoges, who had returned from Madrid, where he was succeeded by St. Sulpice, were sent into Switzerland in the early spring of 1564 to penetrate the designs of Spain, and to promise an early payment of the French debts due to the cantons in return for their military support in the wars of Henry II.[855] Bellièvre’s particular mission was to the Grisons. The position of the Grisons was a precarious one, for Spain could attack them from the Valteline, or starve them by prohibiting the exportation of grain into the country from Lombardy. By using such threats the Spanish governor of Milan hoped to compel the adherence of the Grisons to a treaty which would open to Spanish and imperial arms the great Alpine routes of the Splügen, the Bernina, and the Stelvio, thus connecting the territories of the two branches of the Hapsburg house and shutting France out from eastern Switzerland. Bellièvre fraternized with the popular element, and by May, 1564, had almost completely neutralized the success of his Spanish rival in spite of Spanish gold. Fortunately for France the Ten Jurisdictions declared in her favor and the Grisons, though very Spaniardized, luckily had a French pensioner as its chief magistrate, the Swiss captain Florin.

Meanwhile the negotiations of the bishop of Limoges and the marshal Vieilleville had progressed so far that the treaty of alliance was all but signed. Late in October Bellièvre received from Freiburg the text of the articles of alliance which the bishop of Limoges and the marshal Vieilleville proposed to submit to the Swiss diet. Encouraged by this success, he went to Glarus in order to overcome the influence of the Zurich preachers who were outspoken enemies of the French alliance, and if possible to settle the difference between that state and Schwytz. By great dexterity he prevailed upon the two cantons to accept a uniform treaty. But he could not push negotiations to a conclusion until hearing from his colleagues.

Spain made a supreme effort to secure the opening of the[242] passages between the Tyrol and the Milanais, but failed because the Grisons promised France that they would accept the principle of a renewed alliance, leaving the settlement of details pending, so that although the supremacy of France in Switzerland was not absolutely assured, at least the adherence of the three leagues to her seemed assured.

But the Escurial and the Vatican were leagued to destroy French influence in Switzerland. Spain gave up hope of compelling the cantons to make a direct alliance with her, but by means of commercial threats and commercial inducements counted on still keeping the Alpine passes open to her arms. Her maxim was, where the grain of Lombardy goes, there Spain’s armies may go, too. To neutralize this danger the French energetically opposed any renewal of an alliance between the Vatican and the Swiss cantons. The Grey League, later won by the commercial promises of Spain, separated from the other two in the end, but its defection was not so serious as it might have been, since according to the joint constitution the vote of two leagues in matters of foreign policy compelled the adherence of the third. But in order further to strengthen the hold of France, the French ambassadors had recourse to a sort of referendum in order to secure an approval of the majority of all the Swiss towns in favor of the French alliance, in addition to the official action of the three leagues. The success of this stroke was complete and the general diet of the three leagues gave its adherence to the treaty of Freiburg concluded by the bishop of Limoges and the marshal Vieilleville on December 7, 1564.[856] The poverty of France, however, seriously endangered the continuance of this alliance. When it was concluded, France tried to stave off payment of her debts, which amounted to more than 600,000 livres, yet demanded the execution of the articles of Freiburg. Glarus, Lucerne, Schwytz, Appenzell, Valais, the Grisons, Schaffhausen, and Basel bitterly complained, the last also because of the burdens laid upon the importations of her commerce into France through Lyons.


In this conflict which France carried on against Spain and the Holy See in Switzerland, Charles IX was supported by the German Protestants, who of course were hostile to both houses of Hapsburg, and France may be credited with considerable address in smoothing the ruffled feelings of Basel and Schaffhausen, and softening the Protestant prejudices of Zurich. This is simply another way of saying that the foreign policy of France in Switzerland was a Protestant policy. Even Bern yielded and joined the general treaty of alliance instead of insisting upon a particular treaty, as she had at first done.[857]

The Huguenots, however, suspicious of the impending reaction at home and misreading the diplomacy of France in Switzerland, grew more and more fearful and began to turn their eyes again toward the prince of Condé as a leader. But fortune and the craft of Catherine had lured the prince away from his own; he had become a broken reed, dangerous to lean upon. In July, 1564, Eleanor de Roye, the brave princess of Condé, died.[858] The Guises and the queen mother, who were now in co-operation,[859] at once began to practice to lure Condé away forever from his party, and the former at the same time, in order to make the alliance between France and Scotland more firm, conceived the idea of marrying the prince of Condé to Mary Queen of Scots.[860] As another possibility[244] the Guises cherished the hope of marrying their niece to Charles IX and thus recovering the ascendency they had enjoyed under Francis II.[861] The corollary of such a plan was the reduction of the Protestants of France. To these ideas Philip II, was stoutly opposed, though he concealed his opposition thereto; Mary was too valuable for his projects to be suffered to become a tool of the Guises. Their purposes were limited to France; his purposes embraced Christendom.[862]

In 1575 the Venetian ambassador wrote, à propos of one of the courtships of Queen Elizabeth: “Princes are wont to avail themselves of matrimonial negotiations in many ways.”[863] These words sagely summarize the efforts of much of the diplomacy of the sixteenth century. By a singular combination of events and lineages, Mary Stuart was necessarily almost the cornerstone of the universal monarchy Philip II dreamed of forming in Europe; her possession of the Scottish crown, her claims to England, her[245] relationship with the Guises, united with the religion she professed, made the furtherance of her power the most practicable means to that end. Whether Mary’s future husband were Don Carlos or the Austrian archduke was a matter of detail in Philip’s plan—the end remained constant. Mary Stuart was of too much value to Philip II’s political designs to risk such a marriage as the Guises contemplated.[864] Her hand might be disposed elsewhere with greater advantage.

Those intense religious convictions of the Spanish King which made him believe he was the divinely ordained instrument of the counter-Reformation, united with his political purposes and ambitions, required him to keep a watchful eye upon France.[865] The Netherlands, France, Italy, England, Scotland were like so many squares of a vast political chessboard upon which he aimed so to move the pieces he was in command of as ultimately to seize possession of those countries, and redeem them from heresy. Mary Stuart was an important personage in Philip’s purposes. He wanted to put her on the throne of Elizabeth and thus unite[246] Scotland and England under a common Catholic rule. For a time he dreamed of marrying her to his own son, Don Carlos, until Catherine interfered and offered her daughter Marguerite as a less dangerous alternative to France. The death of Don Carlos,[866] the eternal irresolution of the Spanish King, the development of new events, continually altered the details of Philip’s purposes, but his essential aim never varied an iota.[867]

The subjugation of France, not in the exact terms of loss of sovereignty, perhaps, but no less in loss of true national independence was a necessary condition of Philip’s purposes. The kingdom of France was situated in the very center of those dominions whose consolidation was to be the Spanish King’s realization of universal rule. Spain bordered her on the south; the Netherlands on the north; in the east lay Franche Comté. Besides these territories which were directly Spanish, the Catholic cantons of Switzerland and Savoy were morally in vassalage to Spain. Beyond Franche Comté lay the Catholic Rhinelands,[247] bound to the other branch of the house of Hapsburg. Beyond Switzerland and Savoy lay Italy, save Venice entirely, and Rome in part, a group of Spanish dominions.

Catherine de Medici combated Philip II both at Madrid and Vienna. But by the side of the negative purpose to thwart Philip’s proposed alliances, Catherine de Medici had purposes of her own of the same sort. The daughter of a house made rich by banking and which never lived down the bourgeois tradition of its ancestry in spite of all its wealth and power, even though popes had come from its house, Catherine was fascinated by the thought of marrying Charles IX to the eldest daughter of the Hapsburgs, and her favorite son, the future Henry III, then known as the duke of Orleans-Anjou, to the Spanish princess Juana, sister of Philip, hoping to see some of Spain’s numerous dominions pass to France as part of Juana’s dowry.

In the pursuance of this double marriage project, the queen early began to beset Philip II for a personal interview, and urged her daughter to persuade the king to the same end, using Pius IV’s cherished idea of a concert of the great Catholic powers to consider the condition and needs of Christendom with some adroitness as a screen to her own personal purposes.[868]

Much of her correspondence with St. Sulpice relates to an interview with Philip II for the purpose of arranging these matters, upon which she had set her heart, and the time of both the ambassador and the Spanish King was consumed with repeated interviews none of which was ever satisfactory, and all of which were tedious.[869] The natural reluctance of Philip II to commit himself to any positive course, united with the great aversion he felt toward the queen mother because of her wavering religious policy—for rigid adherence to Catholicism was Philip’s one inflexible feature—led the King to follow a course of procrastination and duplicity for months, during which, however, he never evinced any outward sign of[248] impatience; his countenance remained as imperturbable as that of a Hindu idol, and never by any expression reflected his thought.[870]

Foolish pride and undue affection led Catherine even to use the Turk as a means of pressure upon Spain in order to accomplish this double marriage project. In the year 1562 an ambassador of the Sultan passed through France, having come by way of Venice to Lyons, and going thence via Dijon and Troyes to Paris.[871] Turkey, after crushing the revolt of Bajazet,[872] was seeking to avenge the accumulated grievances which she had suffered from Austria and Spain, especially the latter, for Philip II’s expedition to Oran and his capture of its fortress, which was regarded as impregnable, had been a bitter blow to the Porte.[873] Exasperated by Spain, Turkey whose war policy was guided by the able grand vizier, Mohammed Sokolli, prepared a vast expedition to expel her from all points which she occupied in Africa. But such a campaign was not possible until Malta, lying midway in the straits of the Mediterranean, was overcome.[874] Europe, which still preserved an acute memory of the protracted siege of Rhodes, looked forward with dismay to the prospective attack upon Malta, so that Catherine de Medici’s cordial reception at Dax of another Turkish ambassador—he was a Christian Pole in the employ of the Sultan—in the course of the tour of the provinces was a political act that was daring to rashness.[875] In order to force Philip II’s hand Catherine even intimated that[249] Charles IX might marry Queen Elizabeth, although this proposition was too great a strain upon the credulity of Europe to be given any consideration.[876] Soon after St. Sulpice reached Spain, we find Toulouse suggested as the place for the desired interview,[877] and thereafter for thirty-eight months this conference was one of the dominant thoughts in Catherine’s mind.[878]

The queen mother’s original plan had been to avoid the heat of the south by passing the winter at Moulins, and visiting Languedoc and Guyenne in the next spring.[879] But the influence of impending change impelled her forward in the maze of tournaments, balls, and masques.[880] Although she was in “a country full of mountains and brigands,”[881] so that she feared “que cette canaille sacageassent quelques uns de sa cour,” and strengthened Strozzi’s band as a precaution, nevertheless Catherine’s resolution seems to have increased in degree as she moved southward. Probably the fact that the prince of Condé was in the toils encouraged her; certainly the necessity of exhibiting something positive that would please Spain, in view of the approaching interview, actuated her. But apart from her own motives, outside pressure had been brought to bear upon her to this end, when at Bar-le-Duc, where the King went to attend the baptism of the infant child of Charles III, duke of Lorraine, who had married Charles IX’s sister, Claudine, in[250] March.[882] Later “when the court came to Lyons information was brought to it that if the King and his advisers should continue to resist the general rising against the Huguenots, it would be turned against itself.”[883] In this instance, however, the pressure came, not from Spain, but from Pope Pius IV whose agent, the Florentine Ludovico Antinori, was sent to France to urge the extirpation of Calvinism and to plead the cause of the findings of the Council of Trent.[884] Catherine obeyed the signs. But as a sudden rupture of the peace of Amboise would have been attended with dangerous consequences she proceeded cautiously.[885]

The first[886] definite intimation of the reaction was an edict issued on July 24, prohibiting Calvinist worship within ten leagues of the court, notwithstanding the fact that authorized places of Protestant worship were affected by it. A fortnight later, on August 4, came a more sweeping edict—the so-called Edict of Roussillon[887] which forbade all persons of whatever religion, quality, or condition to molest one another, or to violate or maltreat images,[251] or to lay hands upon any sacred objects upon pain of death; magistrates were likewise enjoined to prevent the Huguenots from performing their devotions in any suspected places, but to confine them to such places as had been specified; finally, the Huguenots were forbidden to hold any synods or other assemblies except in the presence of certain of the King’s officers, who were appointed to be present at them.[888] The pretext of both of these edicts was the trespass upon the terms of Amboise by the Protestants, and fear of a Protestant conspiracy. But in reality the action of the government constituted a partial yielding to that Catholic pressure which already had made itself manifest at Nancy.

The Edict of Roussillon completely ignored a petition of the Huguenots presented to the King while at Roussillon, which shows the pernicious activity of the local Catholic leagues already. The complaint specified that infractions of the Edict of Amboise had been committed by the Catholics, especially in Burgundy; that Catholic associations everywhere were being formed against them; that the priests openly lauded the King of Spain from their pulpits; that their synods were broken up by the enemies of their religion.[889]

After a sojourn of a month at Roussillon, the pilgrimage of the court was again resumed. At Valence (August 22) Catherine received word that Elizabeth of Spain had given birth to still-born twin babes. On September 24 Avignon was reached, where a stay of two weeks was made during which Catherine consulted the famous astrologer Nostradamus. Hyères and Aix were stages on the road to Marseilles[890] (November 3-10), whence[252] it led to Nîmes[891] (December 12), and Montpellier[892] (December 17), and thence to Agde and Beziers,[893] where progress for some time was blocked by heavy snow-falls. The snows irritated Catherine and to placate her impatience she was shown historical evidence that both Blanche of Castile and the queen of Charles VII had once been snowed-in in these parts for three months.[894] Unlike his mother, Charles IX enjoyed it, building a snow fort in which he and his pages withstood a siege by some of the gentlemen of the household.[895]

During this enforced sojourn Catherine de Medici received word of the famous conflict between the marshal Montmorency, who had been made governor of Paris,[896] when the court started en tour, and the cardinal of Lorraine. On January 8, 1565, the cardinal of Lorraine sought to enter Paris with a great rout of armed retainers. The marshal demanded the disarming of the company, in compliance with a royal ordonnance of 1564 forbidding the carrying of arquebuses, pistols, or other firearms,[897] not knowing that the cardinal had a warrant from the queen mother[253] authorizing his men to wear arms if so desired. The cardinal haughtily refused to obey, and a fight took place in the street near the corner of St. Innocents, in which one man was killed.[898]

The reactionary policy of the government stimulated the local Catholic leagues in Languedoc during this winter of 1564-65.[899] The religious prejudice which these associations manifested was influenced by the bitter jealousy existing between the Guises and the Montmorencys. From the hour of the clash between the cardinal and the marshal, the Guises plotted to compass the ruin of the house of Montmorency, and sought to find support in the Catholic leagues of the southern provinces. The tolerant policy of the[254] marshal Montmorency and his brother Damville was seized upon by the Guises to make them odious.[900] The secular clergy and still more the Jesuits and Capuchins were very active in this work, going from town to town and village to village, urging Catholics vigorously to defend their faith, and their fiery preaching materially advanced the tendency to union among the provincial leagues.[901]

Under the effective leadership of the sieur de Candalle, the league of Agen had had an astonishing spread over Guyenne, exhibiting a strength of organization and an audacity which foreshadows that of the Holy League of 1576, in whose genesis, indeed, it represents an evolutionary stage. What made the league of Guyenne so peculiarly formidable, however, was not so much its perfection of organization and its wide expansion, as the fact that it was organized and had existence without the knowledge or consent of the crown, and in transgression of the royal authority, which forbade such associations. This highly developed stage of existence was arrived at by the league of Agen in August, 1564, from which date it may properly be called the league of Guyenne.[902]

Naturally the Guises approached Montluc with their plan. While the court was sojourning at Mont-de-Marsan (March 9-24, 1565), waiting the arrival of the Spanish queen and the duke of Alva at Bayonne, an intimation was given to Montluc that a league was in process of formation in France “wherein were several great persons, princes and others,” and an agent of the Guises at this[255] time endeavored to persuade Montluc to join the association.[903] But Montluc was cautious; he had no great affection for the Guises and, moreover, leagues and such associations were against the law, which he, as a crown officer, was pledged to support. Grammont who was opposed to Montluc had already complained of his conduct to the queen mother.[904] Besides, there were private reasons, whose nature will be soon developed, which made him hesitate. Montluc carried his information to Catherine de Medici, who, not yet perceiving that the ambition of the Guises was the chief motive, was not at once seriously alarmed, since the anti-Protestant policy of the government made it indifferent now to such associations. Accordingly, when the court reached Bordeaux (it arrived there on April 9) and the Huguenots renewed their complaints against Candalle and his associates, the King ignored the petition, recognizing that many of the nobles were members of the league of Guyenne. Instead, he gave the league a quasi-legal status by proclaiming that the crown would not listen to any more complaints against Candalle and his associates.[905]

But the queen mother was genuinely alarmed a few weeks later when the real purpose and scope of the proposed league were revealed to her through an intercepted letter which the duke of Aumale had written on February 27, 1565, to the marquis d’Elbœuf. The duke of Montpensier, the vicomte de Martigues, Chavigny, who was a Guise protégé, D’Angennes, and the bishop of Mans, were named in this letter as the chiefs of an association, which had for its avowed end the abasement of the house of Montmorency.[906][256] Catherine, apprehending the consequences certain to result from such an extension of the feud of the two houses, implored the King, at a large meeting of the council held on May 18, 1565, to divulge what had been ascertained—that a secret association had been discovered in defiance of the law, having political aims detrimental to the monarchy, and a system of government for the levying of men and money without the King’s authority. The counselors, with one accord, denied their knowledge or implication, and protested their devotion to the cause and the law. Catherine was thoroughly alarmed, and appealed to Montluc for advice. What followed may be told in his own words:

I heard then some whisper of a league that was forming in France, wherein were several very great persons, both Princes and others, whom nevertheless I have nothing to do to name, being engaged by promise to the contrary. I cannot certainly say to what end this League was contrived; but a certain gentleman named them to me every one, endeavoring at the same time to persuade me to make one in the Association, assuring me it was to a good end; but he perceived by my countenance that it was not a dish for my palate. I presently gave the Queen private intimation of it; for I could not endure such kind of doings, who seemed to be very much astonished at it, telling me it was the first syllable she had ever heard of any such thing; and commanding me to enquire further into the business, which I did, but could get nothing more out of my gentleman; for he now lay upon his guard.

Her Majesty then was pleased to ask my advice, how she should behave herself in this business, whereupon I gave her counsel to order it so that the[257] King himself should say in public that he had heard of a League that was forming in his Kingdom, which no one could do without giving him some jealousy and offence; and that therefore he must require everyone without exception to break off this League, and that he would make an Association in his Kingdom, of which he himself would be the Head; for so for some time it was called, though they afterwards changed the name, and called it the Confederation of the King. The Queen at the time that I gave her this advice did by no means approve of it, objecting, that should the King make one, it was to be feared that others would make another; but I made answer and said that the King must engage in his own all such as were in any capacity of doing the contrary, which, however, was a thing that could not be concealed, and might well enough be provided against. Two days after, her Majesty being at supper, called me to her and told me that she had considered better of the affair I had spoke to her about, and found my counsel to be very good, and that the next day, without further delay, she would make the King propound the business to his Council; which she accordingly did, and sent to enquire for me at my lodging, but I was not within. In the evening she asked me why I did not come to her, and commanded me not to fail to come the next day, because there were several great difficulties in the Council, of which they had not been able to determine. I came according to her command, and there were several disputes. Monsieur de Nemours made a very elegant speech, remonstrating “That it would be very convenient to make a League and Association for the good of the King and his Kingdom, to the end, that if affairs should so require, every one with the one and the same will might repair to his Majesty’s person, to stake their lives and fortunes for his service, and also in case any one of what religion soever, should offer to invade or assault them, or raise any commotion in the state, that they might with one accord unite, and expose their lives in their common defence.” The Duke of Montpensier was of the same opinion, and several others saying that they could not choose but so much the more secure the peace of the Kingdom, when it should be known that all the Nobility were thus united for the defence of the Crown.

The Queen then did me the honor to command me to speak; whereupon I began, and said, “That the League proposed could be no ways prejudicial to the King, being that it tended to a good end for his Majesty’s service, the good of his Kingdom, and the peace and security of his People; but that one which should be formed in private could produce nothing but disorder and mischief; for the good could not answer for the evil disposed; and should the cards once be shuffled betwixt League and League, it would be a hard matter to make of it a good game; that being the most infallible way to open a door to let strangers into the kingdom, and to expose all things to spoil and ruin; but that all of us in general, both Princes and others, ought to make an[258] Association, which should bear the title of the League, or the Confederation of the King, and to take a great and solemn oath, not to decline or swerve from it upon penalty of being declared such as the oath should import; and that his Majesty having so concluded, ought to dispatch messengers to all parts of the kingdom, with commission to take the oaths of such as were not there present, by which means it would be known, who were willing to live and die in the service of the king and state. And should anyone be so foolish or impudent as to offer to take arms, let us all swear to fall upon them; I warrant your Majesty I will take such order in these parts, that nothing shall stir to the prejudice of your royal authority. And in like manner let us engage by the faith we owe to God, that if any Counter-League shall disclose itself, we will give your Majesty immediate notice of it; and let your Majesty’s be subscribed by all the great men of your kingdom. The feast will not be right without them, and they also are easy to be persuaded to it, and the fittest to provide against any inconvenience that may happen.”

This was my proposition, upon which several disputes ensued; but in the end the King’s Association was concluded on, and it was agreed, that all the Princes, great Lords, Governors of Provinces, and Captains of Gens d’armes should renounce all Leagues and Confederacies whatsoever, as well without as within the Kingdom, excepting that of the King, and should take the oath upon pain of being declared rebels to the crown; to which there were also other obligations added, which I do not remember.... In the end all was past and concluded, and the Princes began to take the oath, and to sign the articles.[907]

The weakness of the crown’s position in these circumstances is evident. Recognizing its inability to crush these local associations and fearing lest control of them would pass over wholly to the[259] Guises, the crown tried to save its power and its dignity by fusing them into a single confederation under the King and forbidding the formation of future associations without royal consent. But the power of the crown was not commensurate with its show of authority. The leagues continued to multiply and to remain independent of the crown’s coercion. In the year 1565 the situation is different in degree but not in kind from that which existed in 1576 when the Holy League was formed.

Even the Spanish affiliations of the Holy League existed potentially at this time through the treason of Montluc.[908] For the wily Gascon, whose character was a combination of daring determination, religious bigotry and envy, in recommending the measures he did was really taking steps to cover up his own tracks. Montluc, despite his professions of allegiance, was angry at the queen mother, and quite ready to knife her in the dark. His heart was filled with rebellious envy of Vieilleville, because the latter had been given a marshal’s bâton. Disappointed in this expectation he asked for the post of colonel-general which D’Andelot filled.[909] Instead Montluc had to be satisfied with the office of governor of Guyenne, which he regarded as ill compensation of his services.[910] In consequence of these grievances, even before the recovery of Havre, Montluc had entered into correspondence with Philip II, to whom he represented the necessity of Spanish intervention in France, on account of the double danger by which France was threatened through the purposes of the Protestants and Catherine de Medici’s toleration of them. The Spanish King at first hesitated, but soon availed himself of the opportunity thus afforded, for two strings were better[260] than one to his bow. Profound secrecy covered the negotiations. Philip’s love of mystery and the delicacy of the matter led him to conceal the plan even from his ambassador in France, and operate through Bardaxi, a cousin of a Spanish captain of that name, who had been pursued by the Inquisition and had fled to France, where he sought service under Montluc in recompense of which he finally was rehabilitated.[911] Montluc proposed the formation of a league between the Pope, the Emperor, the Spanish King, and the leading Catholic princes of Germany and Italy to avert a union of the Huguenots with outside Protestant princes for the overthrow of the Catholic religion in France.[912] He enlarged upon the moral “benefit” of such a league to France, now ridden by the Huguenots to the imminent ruin of the monarchy, and pointed out to Philip II the peculiar interest he had in crushing Calvinism.[913] The plan was for Philip II to kidnap Jeanne d’Albret who was to be given over to the Inquisition, and to seize possession of Béarn, and thus accomplish two purposes at once—destroy the hearth of Calvinism in France, and establish Spanish power north of the Pyrenees.[914] Fortunately for France, the French ambassador at Madrid, St. Sulpice, was informed of the plan, though he did not know of Montluc’s treason, by a servant of the Spanish queen, and Catherine de Medici’s energetic steps in the protection of Béarn nipped the scheme in the bud.[915]

This joint plan of Montluc and Philip II for the seizure of Béarn[261] and the capture of its queen telescoped with another plot against her to which Philip and Pope Pius IV were parties. On September 28, 1563, a papal bull excommunicated the queen for heresy, and she was cited before the Holy Office for trial.[916] To Catherine’s credit she at once took a firm stand in favor of the queen of Navarre.[917]

It was not in the nature of Philip II to be daring in daylight. Precaution was second nature to him. Lansac’s mission to Madrid to protest against the action of Pius IV coincided with Montluc’s overtures to the Spanish King. The discovery of part of the plan made Philip timid about pushing it at all until a more favorable time at least. Accordingly he gave Montluc little encouragement, save offering him an asylum in Spain if events should compel him to quit France on account of his treasonable correspondence,[918] while to Lansac he said that “what the Pope had done against ‘Madame de Vendôme’ was very inopportune and would be remedied.”[919] In a word, Philip II dissembled his participation in the Pope’s conduct, asserting that the procedure had been taken without his knowledge, and that while he deplored the queen of Navarre’s apostasy he could not be unmindful of the fact that she was kith and kin of the queen of Spain, his wife![920]

There probably was a certain amount of spite work in Philip’s repudiation of the Pope at this time. One of the important political issues raised at the Council of Trent was the question of precedence between the ambassadors of France and Spain. Lansac, Charles IX’s ambassador to the Council, claimed the honor of[262] going before the count of Lara, Spain’s representative, at which Philip was “picqué oultre mesure.”[921] The papal party in vain implored Lansac to yield. Lansac replied that “la France ne pouvait renoncer aux droits qui lui avaient été reconnus dans tous les précédents conciles, et que, plutôt que de laisser rien innover sur ce point, ‘j’étais résolu, selon le commandement de mon maître, après avoir protesté de nullité de ce concile, de m’en aller incontinent avec tous les prélats de notre nation, sans entrer dans aucune dispute ne composition.’”[922] Philip II refrained from making any observation to France upon the disputed point[923] pending the decision of the Pope.[924] But such a course was impossible. The contest over the question became the absorbing topic of conversation at Rome.[925] The Pope was between Scylla and Charybdis.[926] Spain claimed precedence for Philip II through the crown of Castile—“chose peu véritable”—and argued that the services of Philip II to the church justified her pretension; to which France rejoined that her king was historically first son of the church, the Most Christian King, who “had bled and suffered for the preservation of the Catholic religion in his kingdom, for which he had combated to the hazarding of his entire state.”[927] Finally being compelled to decide, Pius IV made a choice in favor of France, to the immense chagrin of Philip II who actually fell sick of the humiliation and recalled his ambassador Vargas from Rome as a sign of his displeasure.[928]


The catalogue of Spain’s grievances against France, besides the question of religion, the dispute over precedence, and France’s refusal to accept the findings of Trent which Philip II had recognized[929] included still another complaint. This was the border difficulty between the Spanish provinces of Artois and Luxembourg, and France. It was a complex question, partly religious, partly political, partly commercial. Like the Huguenot rebellion, the growing insurrection in the Low Countries was of a double nature—religious and political. Each side looked to the other for sympathy and support and neither was disappointed. The Huguenots retaliated for the assistance afforded the government of France by Spain during the first civil war by aiding the revolt of the Netherlands. This intimate connection of events on each side of the line is an important fact to be observed.

It was in 1563, as Granvella had divined,[930] that the intrigues of[264] the French Protestants in Flanders became a matter of serious apprehension. Valenciennes was the most aggressive city of the religion in Flanders, and Margaret of Parma actually was afraid of Montigny doing as Maligny had done at Havre. Already the prince of Orange was the recognized leader of those who sympathized with the Huguenots. To this class England’s support of the prince of Condé, and above all, the assassination of the duke of Guise, came as a real stimulus. Valenciennes, Tournay, Antwerp, even Brussels were stirred. In May, 1563, the demonstrations of the Calvinists at Valenciennes and Tournay became so bold that it required six companies of infantry to keep them overawed. But this measure, instead of accomplishing the result expected, aggravated the situation, for the marquis de Berghes, the commander, was so ostracized by the nobles, that he lost courage. Philip II grew alarmed and wrote to his sister on June 13, 1563, that the example of France counseled most drastic suppression. In reply the regent and the cardinal Granvella implored Philip to come to the Netherlands, but he pleaded ignorance of the language and poverty as excuse. Meanwhile the Orange party practiced so successfully with the duchess of Parma that she inclined toward conciliation instead of coercion. This threw the regent and De Berghes into alignment, who proposed to convoke the States-General to remedy the evils—a programme which the nobles enthusiastically advocated.

The similarity between the Flemish movement and the programme of the political Huguenots in France is very close.[931] With the design of suppressing heresy in its two most active centers, Granvella proposed to imitate the method used at Paris, of exacting a profession of faith together with a pledge to observe the laws, of all citizens who wished to stay in the city. Recalcitrants were to be disarmed, compelled to sell their property, one-third of the proceeds of which was to be confiscated for the support of the soldiers and municipal expenses, and the culprits were then to be banished[265] from the country. This drastic policy called forth a mingled protest and threat from the prince of Orange, whose wealth and German connections, aside from other qualities he possessed, gave him great influence. The government begged for money and troops, “como la liga va cresciendo.”[932] Orange’s tactics were to persuade the provincial estates to refuse to vote subsidies or to throw the weight of the finances upon the church much after the manner of things done at Pontoise. This he began to do in Brabant where the indefinite postponement of a grant of money provoked mutiny among the soldiers. In September De Berghes went out from office, having distinguished himself by not putting a single heretic to death. The change was immediately followed by the burning alive of a Protestant preacher and the protestations of the quartet, Orange, Hoorne, Egmont, and Montigny, became bolder.[933] Finally the nobles of Flanders resolved to protest to the King of Spain. Philip II, always hesitating and undecided, did not respond. To a petition which was sent him demanding the recall of the cardinal, he replied by a flat refusal. The nobles showed their offense by absenting themselves from the Council of State and used their influence to detach the regent from Granvella. At last, after months of negotiation, Philip II yielded. Granvella retired to his splendid palace at Besançon in Franche Comté and the nobles resumed their seats in the council. But the four were irritated at Philip II’s delay in responding to their demands for reform. It was evident, moreover, by November, 1563, that something like a common purpose actuated the chief provinces—Flanders, Artois, Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht.[934]

The Calvinists were especially numerous in the Walloon provinces, and preachers from Geneva and England were active among them. The government undertook to restrain their assemblies, and the conflict broke out. This conflict, it is important to remark, did not turn upon the question of religion in and of itself, but upon the manner of treating the heretics. Philip wanted to[266] apply the edicts of his father, which required the death penalty for heresy; but the government and Spanish officials in the Low Countries, Catholics though they were, were opposed to so severe a penalty and would rather have treated those offending as criminals than as heretics. But with Philip the extirpation of heresy was a question of conscience.

Valenciennes still remained the most prominent place of disaffection,[935] but Brussels was much infected.[936] But more formidable than local spirit was the marked tendency toward a union of the provinces[937] and the growing interest of the Huguenots in the Dutch and Flemish cause,[938] so much so that Cardinal Granvella strongly hinted at Spanish pressure being forcibly exerted upon France for the reduction of the Huguenots.[939] The cardinal hoped to see Charles IX and his mother more docile in receiving the advice of Spain since the withdrawal of Chantonnay, who was made Philip II’s ambassador at Vienna. But the theft of Alava’s cipher by the Huguenots threw him into despair.[940] The reciprocal connection between politics and religion in France and the Low Countries made the Spanish government watch the movement of events in France with vigilance.[941] So acute was the situation owing to Huguenot sympathy with the cause of insurrection across the border,[942] that although Granvella ridiculed the wild rumor that Montgomery was coming to Flanders, he nevertheless apprehended the possibility of a rupture with France and was relieved to know[267] that precautions had been taken against any chance enterprise of the Huguenots along the edge of Artois and Hainault.[943]

Margaret of Parma and the nobles sent ambassadors to Spain to ask concession on two points: (1) that the provinces be governed by native officials; (2) that the punishment of heresy be moderated. The King hesitated long. It was not until October 17, 1565, that he gave decisive pronouncement in dispatches issued from Segovia. In them he ordered the maintenance of the Inquisition, the enforcement of the edicts, and the impoverishment of those who resisted. In a word, Philip II would not yield. The discontent against the administration of the King of Spain now turned against the King himself. William of Orange used the notable words, “We are witnessing the beginning of a great tragedy.”

In the face of the growing resistance the duke of Alva strongly advised Philip II to convert the towns into fortresses.[944] For the Flemish cities were, as yet, commercial groups, not fortified burgs. With the possible exception of Gravelines, no one of them was capable of making a sustained defense.

This suggestion happened to coincide with the English occupation of Havre-de-Grace and the possible return of Calais to England in return therefor. Such a contingency could but be viewed with anxiety by Spain,[945] and this fact, coupled with the uncertainty of developments in France induced Philip to follow out Alva’s suggestion by strengthening Gravelines. France at once became alarmed over Calais and protested in the same breath against the building of fortifications at Gravelines and the duty upon her wines.[946] In retaliation the French government also strengthened the garrisons on the[268] edge of Picardy, under the direction of the prince of Condé (who was governor of the province), to the immense indignation of Spain.[947] The Spanish erections around Gravelines reacted also upon the state of things in Flanders. For new and heavier taxation was the indispensable point of departure for carrying out such measures, “unless one were willing to see everything said upon the subject vanish in smoke.” The sole effective remedy for the state of things prevailing in the Flemish provinces was, of course, to reorganize the finances and the administration of justice in accordance with the demands made by the nobles. But instead of attempting to do this, the government aimed to weaken the opposition by dividing the leaders, and the long silence of Philip II covered an attempt to draw away Egmont, who was regarded as the ringleader of the Flemish nobles at this time.[948] The Spanish government dreaded to summon the estates, as Orange insisted should be done, for fear of things in Brabant and the other provinces going the road of things in France under like conditions.[949]

In order, therefore, to provide for funds without asking the estates to vote subsidies, over which there was sure to be a conflict, the Spanish government in the Netherlands undertook to raise the needed money by tariffs. The cloth trade of England and the wine trade of France were the two commodities so taxed. In 1563 a duty was laid on French wine.[950] In the case of England, the[269] excuse given for the high duty placed on imported cloth was precaution against the plague.[951] France at once protested against the tariff and threatened to retaliate by taxing the herring and cod trade, though the Spanish ambassador at Paris represented that such action would entirely destroy the wine trade and would compel reprisal.[952]

Flemish merchants were doubly alarmed at the state of things, for England, too, threatened reprisal by removing the cloth market from Antwerp to Embden and imposing tonnage duties on merchant ships of Flanders driven by stress of weather into English ports for safety during storm.[953] But the government in Flanders was obdurate. Granvella declared England’s threat to remove the staple to Embden to be “puerile rhodomontade.” He believed that not only would the prohibition against the import of English cloth compel Elizabeth to redress the grievances of Spanish subjects against England, but that it might even make the English government more lenient toward the Catholic religion. Furthermore, he argued, the tax would operate like a protective tariff to stimulate the manufacture of cloth in the Low Countries. “If not a single bolt of English cloth ever comes into Flanders again,” he wrote “it will be to the permanent profit of the Pays-Bas. We saw this clearly last year during the plague when the prohibition having temporarily suspended the importation of this kind of goods, there was manufactured in the single county of Flanders 60,000 pieces of cloth, or more than the sum total of the three preceding years.”[954] In the case of French wines the Flemish government even established[270] a maximum law for their sale which cut the throat of French merchants worse than ever.[955] The French government carried the action of the Flemish government up to Madrid, where for months the duty on wine and the buttresses of Gravelines were matters of repeated interviews between St. Sulpice and the King, and were still unsettled questions at the time of the conference at Bayonne.[956] Meanwhile the conflict of the Flemish reform party became more acute because it became complicated with the question of religion.

In the light of all these circumstances, it is no wonder that Philip II hesitated long before giving his consent to an interview with Catherine de Medici.[957] Even then he imposed a number of conditions and regulations. He would not go in person to Bayonne—the place appointed; his wife was to be accompanied by the duke of Alva; display was to be avoided by either side both for motives of economy and to prevent having undue political significance attached to an interview which was to be understood to be purely personal. Philip II’s most striking regulations, however, were those which had to do with the French entourage. No one in the least tainted with heresy was to accompany the court. The queen of Navarre, whom the Spanish King carefully alluded to as “Madame de Vendôme,” the prince of Condé, the admiral,[271] and the cardinal Châtillon were specifically named with abhorrence. The queen mother acquiesced in this prohibition, save in the case of the prince of Condé, protesting that, on account of his rank, it would give great offense to forbid his presence, as well as create belief among the Huguenots that the meeting contemplated something disadvantageous to them. History has shown that Catherine’s instincts were perfectly right in this particular; since after the massacre of St. Bartholomew the Huguenots—indeed almost the whole Protestant world—jumped to the conclusion that that disaster was preconcerted at Bayonne. In vain St. Sulpice argued political expediency, saying France and Spain must not be judged alike, and that “experience had proved that the way of arms had resulted in more dangers than profit to France.” Philip II’s answer was metallically hard; he would not consent to the presence either of Jeanne d’Albret or the prince of Condé at Bayonne, because it would be a reproach to him and to Spain for his wife to have had converse with a heretic.[958]

The last stage of Charles IX’s long tour of the provinces was from Bordeaux[959] to Bayonne[960] where the French court arrived on May 22, 1565. But that indolence of spirit which is so much associated with Spanish character seems as early as the sixteenth century to have become habitual,[961] so that the Spanish queen was forced to travel in the heat (six soldiers of Strozzi’s band died with their armor on from heat prostration), which aggravated the plague prevailing in certain parts.[962]


In conferences of state, especially international conferences, things of importance are confined within four walls. The sixteenth century was par excellence the age of closet politics. The world upon the outside saw only the fêtes[963] that marked the interview at Bayonne. But these festivities were no more than the flecks or wreaths of glittering foam that float upon the bosom of the water for an instant and then are gone. The real business at Bayonne was politics. But the great importance for three hundred years[964] attributed to this famous interview is today proved to have had slight foundation in fact. The light of recent research has dissipated the traditional belief that Philip II and Catherine de Medici planned the massacre of the French Protestants at Bayonne, and finally consummated it on St. Bartholomew’s Day.[965] The truth is that not what was contemplated but what was imagined was contemplated at Bayonne became the important historical influence of the future. An assumed fact came to have all the force of reality. The principals in this unfortunate conference, in point of truth, were far apart from one another. Philip II’s interests were wholly political, and personalities were merely incidental to his main purpose. On the other hand, the queen mother’s interests were chiefly personal, being centered in plans to achieve brilliant marriage[273] alliances for her children, for whose sake she ruinously compromised herself and France.

If Catherine had been less vain and less foolishly affectionate, she would have striven harder for the solution of things more vital to France. It is true she was far from ignoring these issues entirely, but she weakened the cause of France in respect to them by subordinating these to her main purpose, so that she awakened the greater suspicion of Spain by her attempts to avoid answering in those matters of most concern to Philip II and by her continual harping upon the things that were nearest to her heart, but not of most moment either to France or to Spain. When the duke of Alva drove her into a corner and compelled her to answer the questions he put to her concerning greater politics, Catherine’s replies were fatal to her aspirations. What were these matters?

Alva’s instructions were strict. He was to demand the expulsion of the Huguenot ministers from France within thirty days; the interdiction of Protestant worship; acceptance of the decrees of the Council of Trent; profession of the Catholic religion by all office holders.[966] This policy of suppression and compulsion outlined by his sovereign was wholly in keeping with his, the duke’s, own judgment. But with greater penetration and less hesitation than Philip II, Alva recognized clearly the intimate connection between the politics of Flanders and the politics of France, and favored the adoption of a parallel line of conduct at once in the Low Countries. He was convinced that France was incapable of managing her own affairs and was a menace to other states, politically and religiously.[967] The means of repression which Spain had often urged had not produced the results desired: they had only delayed the total ruin of the nation. Suggestion and insinuation must be replaced by a more drastic policy. Assassination was a recognized, perhaps a quasi-legitimate political recourse in the eyes of the men of the sixteenth century. The old generation of French Catholics upon whom Spain could rely, the cardinal de Tournon, the duke of[274] Guise, the marshal St. André, had passed away—one of them assassinated at the hands of a Huguenot. Tavannes and Vieilleville were reluctant to sacrifice country to religion, especially when a rival nation would profit thereby. The constable was the only old-time figure of prominence remaining, and he could not be relied on since the conflict between the marshal Montmorency and the cardinal of Lorraine, for he favored the side of his nephews and so was believed to be not far distant from the party of the admiral.[968] Power had fallen into the hands of the Huguenots, whose leaders now excelled in personal force. “The shortest, the most expeditious way, is to behead Condé, the admiral, D’Andelot, La Rochefoucauld, and Grammont,” Alva told the duke of Montpensier[969] and Montluc, the two most earnest French converts to this policy.[970]

But it was yet a far cry from this cool advocacy of assassination of the Protestant leaders to the wholesale slaughter of August 24, 1572. There is really no positive connection between the conference of Bayonne and the massacre of St. Bartholomew.[971][275] The slaughter of the French Protestants as a sect was never advocated by any prince in Europe, not even Philip II. There is no evidence at the Vatican of any Catholic or papal league for the extirpation of the Protestants. Such a solution of the religious problem was not contemplated, save by one person in Europe at this time—Pope Pius V. It is this pontiff who has the sinister distinction of having advocated general destruction of the Protestants, rather than a discriminating assassination of the Huguenot leaders.[972] The most radical action touching the Huguenots[276] at large, it may safely be said, that was regarded practicable in 1564-65 was to forbid and prevent future conversion,[973] or else the[277] wholesale exile of the Huguenots from the realm.[974] The alternative of total destruction was not contemplated anywhere in Europe or at any time, except in the single case mentioned.

No such crime as the massacre of the Huguenots was planned at Bayonne, nor perpetrated as the result of that conference. The principals in the case were too far apart in intention and conviction for so gigantic a programme. The paramount purpose of the queen mother was to marry Charles IX to the elder daughter of the Emperor, Margaret of Valois to Don Carlos, and the duke of Orleans (the future Henry III) to Donna Juana, Philip II’s sister. But Alva was crafty. By a series of adroit questions which tantalized her hopes and preyed upon her fears, he compelled Catherine de Medici to commit herself upon the very political issues which she wished to avoid discussing, until she was hopelessly compromised. In vain she doubled like a fox pursued by the hounds and tried to throw the duke off upon a false scent.

“France must be cleared of this vicious sect,” said Alva. In order to avoid replying, Catherine attempted, by a question, to turn the conversation to the subject of a universal league, whether it should be against the Turk or against the heretic. Alva was not thrown off. The queen resorted to sarcasm.

“Since you understand the evil from which France is suffering so well,” she said, “tell me the remedy.”

Alva sidestepped the direct shot, by suavely rejoining:

“Madame, who knows better than yourself?”

“The King, your master,” said Catherine ironically, “knows better than I everything that passes in France. What means would he employ to overcome the rebellious Protestants?”

Alva resorted to the Socratic method, hoping to involve the queen in the toils of argument.


“Has the religion gained or lost since the peace of Amboise?” he inquired insidiously.

“It has gained,” replied she.

The answer, in Spain’s eyes, was a condemnation of the policy of France; it was a thorn in the road of the queen’s ambitious hopes of marriage alliance. In her exasperation, Catherine upbraided her daughter for out-Spaniarding the Spaniard.

“I am a Spaniard, I admit,” said Elizabeth. “ It is my duty.”[975]

Catherine broached anew the possibility of Philip II consenting to have his sister marry her Benjamin—Henry duke of Orleans—and conferring Artois as dowry upon the pair.

“The king would never consent to sacrifice one of his provinces,” said Alva brusquely.

“But to give a Spanish province to the duke of Orleans,” argued the queen mother, blinded by maternal affection, “would be the same then as giving it to his own brother.”

Alva taxed the queen with maintaining a heretic, L’Hôpital, in the chancellorship, and of opposing the Tridentine decrees. Catherine emphatically denied the first charge, although her daughter again supported Alva’s indictment by declaring that even during the life of her father, L’Hôpital had passed for a Huguenot; as to the second, she said the crown of France objected to the political application of certain findings of the Council of Trent, which she hoped to have adjusted. Alva saw the vulnerable point in her reply and inquired if she aimed to call another assembly like the Colloquy of Poissy.

“I recognize the danger of such assemblies,” said Catherine, “but the king, my son, is strong enough to compel discussion only of those subjects which he may designate.”

“Was it so at Poissy?” sneered Alva.


The queen’s reply was a tirade against the cardinal of Lorraine, whom she blamed for the failure of the colloquy.

In the end there was a promise given by the queen mother at Bayonne. But it was verbal, not written, and so governed by circumstances that the edge of Spain’s intentions was dulled. Compromising the agreement certainly was; convicting it is not, for, aside from the fact that its fulfilment was dependent upon an impossible condition of things, Catherine never permitted herself to express in writing what the terms of this promise were. Our knowledge of it is dependent upon Alva’s letters of June 15 and July 4; upon Philip II’s construction of it in a letter addressed by him to the cardinal Pacheco[976] on August 24, 1565, and the dispatch of the Venetian ambassador Suriano, who was with the French queen, to the senate on July 22, supplemented by what information St. Sulpice picked up during the last days of his mission in Spain.

It is evident from the careful reading of these documents that the real triumph at Bayonne was scored by the papacy; that Spain won a sterile victory, and France met an indecisive defeat. Spain and France, being unable to carry their own purpose through as each desired, compromised on a course which was an intermediate plane of agreement to them, but which, according to the letter, was a supreme triumph for Rome, and would have been a complete victory for Rome if the terms had ever been executed. The man of the hour was the cardinal Santa Croce, nuncio in France. His services are thus reported by the Venetian ambassador in France on July 2:

On the eve of departure, the queen, perceiving the discontent of the duke of Alva, summoned the nuncio, who was not far away, to Bayonne, in order to have him at hand. It is he who has found a solution; he has satisfied both parties. I shall be able to inform you shortly as to the nature of his solution.[977]

Three weeks later (July 22) the promised word was sent to Venice in the form of a cipher dispatch,[978] the information in which[280] had been communicated to him in strictest secrecy.[979] This intensely important document reads as follows:

Now that I have received positive information, I shall tell everything to your Signory that has happened. Since his arrival, the duke of Alva has not ceased to urge the queen to give his master a manifestation of her good will toward the cause of religion by some manifest act, and he had urged her to cause the decisions of the Council of Trent to be observed throughout the whole realm of France, for which his Catholic majesty would show his satisfaction. The queen had yielded readily to this proposition and had told him that she was very inclined to convene an assembly of prelates, of theologians, and savants, to examine the decisions made at Trent, without occupying themselves with doctrine, but confining themselves to the reform of abuses. The duke had found this offer strange and had not concealed his discontent over it. According to him, this was to oppose a council to a council, which would be the worst of results and mightily displease the king his master. Since he urged the necessity of this measure, before passing to any other consideration, and was so obdurate, the queen, being very pained to see him depart so unsatisfied, and things being so desperate, notified the nuncio, who was not lodged at Bayonne like all the ambassadors, and ordered the mareschal de logis of the palace to prepare accommodation for him and to have him come immediately. He came at once and being informed by the queen, went to find the duke, but was very badly received by him. The duke blamed and reproached him for not remaining firm in his opinion. The queen holding to the idea of this assembly of prelates and theologians, and the duke opposing it, the nuncio found another expedient which seemed to give satisfaction to all. He broached it to the queen, and with her consent communicated it to the duke. This remedy, at the twelfth hour, was very opportune. It is this: This assembly shall be held: but under certain conditions. The first is that the persons chosen to participate in it shall be of such influence as to be able to demand that no Huguenot shall sit in it; secondly, the assembly must conform to that which the queen had at first proposed; that is to say, all disputes over dogma and doctrine shall be forbidden. The queen, having accepted this, authorized the nuncio to communicate her consent to the duke, who showed himself satisfied. Both of them then came together to find the queen again, and on the next day, in the presence of the queen of Spain, the cardinal Bourbon, the marshal Bourdillon, and the leading nobles, the whole was confirmed.

Great benefit can come from this: by eliminating everything that pertains to dogma, and avoiding doctrinal difficulties, all the other resolutions which are of less importance will be strengthened, especially as the[281] Huguenots, the only ones who can give trouble will be excluded. There is no doubt about both the king and the queen being disposed to the Catholic religion, since they have given proofs of it. I am, moreover, assured by what the queen has said, that there is no intention to touch any of the privileges of the Holy See, nor, per contra, any of the concessions made by the popes to the kings who were predecessors of the king now reigning. The execution of this convention thus arranged is not to take place until the return of the king to Paris.

The King of Spain, in the letter cited to Cardinal Pacheco, expressed his contentment with this agreement,[980] not perceiving that the application of it was capable of a great amount of flexibility. In his blindness he thought that the nuncio had broken the loaf so as to give the greater portion to Spain; while in reality the greater part was in the hands of the Pope, Philip II having actually but the difference between a fragment and no bread. In fine, no plot was entered into at Bayonne; no crime was ever committed in pursuance of an agreement arranged there. The “plot” agreed upon at Bayonne between Catherine de Medici and Philip II of Spain consisted of an ambiguous promise, the fulfilment of which was dependent upon an impossible condition of things.[981]

The affair of Bayonne was not a crime; it was a colossal blunder. The destruction of the ambitious marriage expectations[282] of the Valois was the least loss. The irreparable thing was that France forfeited the confidence of her Protestant subjects. The secrecy that enveloped the conference made the Huguenots apprehensive of the worst. They believed that a Franco-Spanish alliance was made at Bayonne for their overwhelming; and the second civil war was the outcome of their misgivings.[982] And when finally, for other reasons, the massacre of St. Bartholomew befell them, not merely Protestant France but Protestant Europe was convinced that the false hypothesis had been demonstrated. The count Hector la Ferrière admirably summarizes the situation:

To maintain and loyally to adhere to the edict of pacification; to open to the daring sailors of France the Indies and America, which Spain and Portugal were endeavoring to close to them; and finally to rally Catholics and Protestants under the same banner against the foreigner—this was the only true French policy. The Spaniard at this time was the enemy of France. She encountered him everywhere in her path; at Rome, at Vienna, at the Council of Trent he disputed her precedence; in Switzerland by gold and by the menaces of his agents he interfered with the renewals of the French treaties with the Catholic cantons; at the very time when Catherine and Elizabeth of Valois were exchanging false promises of alliance and friendship, Menendez was sailing for Florida, bearing orders for the massacre of all the French found there.[983]




From the field of Philip II’s empty victory the court resumed its pilgrimage, crossing the Loire and traversing Guyenne which was “in good repose,” visiting Angoulême, Cognac, Saintes, La Rochelle, and Niort en route to Nantes. The country was the veritable dominion of Calvinism in France, but as yet the Huguenots let their hopes belie their fears.[984] The progress through the western provinces was purposely slow, for Catherine still hoped against hope that Fourquevaux, who had succeeded St. Sulpice at the Spanish court, might persuade Philip II to think more favorably of her matrimonial schemes,[985] until finally, late in December, the bitter truth came out; only the younger daughter of the Hapsburgs might marry a Valois, even though he was king of France. The queen mother had been weighed in the balance by Catholic-Hapsburg Europe and had been found wanting. Then it was that Catherine turned her eyes toward eastern Europe in the hope of finding in Poland a recompense for the fondled and despicable Henry of Valois. Strange are the vicissitudes of history! The effect of Philip II’s resolution was to put a mountebank on the throne of Poland and cast Marguerite of Valois into the arms of the son of Jeanne d’Albret.[986]

Long before this time, however, Spain had begun to be impatient for the fulfilment of the compact of Bayonne. But procrastination was Catherine’s trump suit. She averred that the plague[284] was too prevalent to make it safe for the court to return to Paris until winter,[987] and when the cold weather diminished the danger from that source, pleaded the poverty and famine of the realm as an excuse.[988] It was an excuse the validity of which was everywhere manifest. France truly had been in the dire pangs of hunger and intense cold during the celebrated winter of 1564-65.[989] Claude Haton, the priest-historian of Provins, who was a close observer of meteorological phenomena has given a graphic description of this season.

The winter at its commencement in November [he says] was very mild and was so until December 20, the vigil of St. Thomas the apostle, without either cold or frost in the mornings. The rain was so warm that it was thought that the winter would be mild and open, but on the vigil of St. Thomas there came a great cold, accompanied in the morning by a cold rain, which by midday turned into snow, and which fell all the rest of the day in so great abundance that the earth, which was very wet, was covered on the morrow to the depth of a foot, king’s measure, and more, with snow. With this snow came a northeast wind, which froze everything under a coating of thick ice. This cold continued down to the last day of December. The ice was so thick that a man could cross the river without breaking through. The snow lay so heavy upon the fields that in the open places the drifts were as high as a man. After the snow-storm had passed the cold redoubled, so that even the best clad suffered whenever they went out doors. There was not a house in the village where the water did not freeze, if it was not set close by the fire; and I do not exaggerate when I say that in many good and well-built houses wine froze before the great chimney, though the latter was heaped up with wood. I saw in many houses iron pots suspended above the fire with icicles hanging over the edge. Every night and morning when the people got up there was frost upon the coverlet, from the evaporation of the bodies of the sleepers. There was not a wine-cellar where the wine did not freeze in the casks, unless care was taken to keep charcoal fires burning there. In some wine-cellars it was necessary to close every aperture in order to prevent the wine from freezing. It frequently froze so hard that it was necessary to pierce the bung-hole with a red hot poker in order to draw it out. On the night of the 23-24 December, as also on Christmas night, the ice was so heavy upon the trees that the boughs[285] were broken. These things had not been seen in France since the year 1480.[990] The greatest cold was on the day of the feast of the Innocents (December 28). Many men who were exposed died in the roads. The crests of cocks and poultry were frozen and fell off some days afterwards, and many were found dead under their roosts. The sheep also died.

Early in January the ice began to melt. It grew uncommonly warm for the season, so that fire became unnecessary. On the day following the edict of the king, about noon, a soft warm rain began to fall, which caused the snow to vanish rapidly. This lasted for five days, so that the earth was covered with water. And then came a second cold for three entire weeks, until the 28th of the month, and snow with a high wind came, which drove the snow everywhere and piled it in great drifts. The winter grain was frozen in the furrows. God knows how much the poor people who had no wood suffered. Most of them stayed in bed night and day without getting up except to eat once in twenty-four hours. The poor of Paris and others who had no means, were compelled to burn their furniture. Those who had made no provision for the winter, chiefly of wood, were compelled to purchase at high prices, for it was not possible to do carting because of the condition of the roads; in many cases, moreover, the bridges were destroyed. When the thaw came, the high waters penetrated houses and churches in Provins to the depth of three, four, and even five feet, washing out the very dead in the cemetery.[991] At Paris the flood damaged the Pont-au-Change and caused many houses to topple. Vine-growers found themselves in great difficulty. Those who were wise cut their vines back to the root, in order that they might sprout better again, and were repaid for so doing, for they were the only ones that bore.

The spring was fair and mild, so that barley and oats were sown. Yet much ground lay bare because in the fields sown with winter wheat the roots were all killed, so that no grain grew. The walnut trees seemed to be dead through all the month of April and half of May, for they did not put forth their buds. Pear and apple trees bore a few blossoms. In some places there were plums and cherries, but not everywhere.[992]


The winter was just as bad in Gascony, Provence, and Languedoc. On the day of the Feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24) it snowed![993] Even the poor people were compelled to build fires, though they could not afford the fuel. The vines throughout central France were so badly injured that not a third part of the crop remained. The grain likewise was destroyed. Water courses were swollen and overflowed their banks, and in the meadows of the Seine people had to take care lest they be drowned. As a result of the cold spring, the harvest of 1565 failed over almost all the realm to such an extent that it was necessary to abolish the tolls between provinces and to permit free trade in grain. Paris imported wheat from Champagne, Picardy, Anjou, Lower Brittany, Burgundy, and Auvergne, the least stricken of the provinces.[994] The Parlement of Paris passed an ordinance forbidding speculation in foodstuffs and compelled those possessed of a surplus of grain to throw what was not needed for their own necessity upon the market.[995] A measure (boisseau) of wheat, from January to April cost from 12-15 sous (= 1½ pecks at from 36 to 45 cents), and after April the price rose every week until harvest time, to the sum of 25 sous tournois (approximately 75 cents). Wheat was very dear in Paris and throughout all Brie, the Ile-de-France, Valois, Soissonais, and Picardy; less so in Champagne, Burgundy, and Lorraine, where there was rye and barley enough for the people. The stock starved because the grain was consumed by the people. Many people went over into Champagne in order to purchase rye and barley to make bread with until the harvest came. Fortunately grain was plentiful in Champagne, and wheat fell to 7 and 6 sous[287] per measure (from 19 to 22 cents), and corn in like proportion after the harvest. Because of the hard times which they had experienced, many accumulated great stores in the expectation that in a short time there would again be a dearth.

Wine was very dear until the vintage. In the months of August and September before the grapes were gathered, it was not possible to purchase wine by the cup at taverns, even for silver; it was with great difficulty that sufficient wine was procurable for church service. But after the vintage the price dropped to 14 livres tournois ($8.70) la queue du creu, whereas it had been as high as 80 before ($49.60).[996]

As so often appears elsewhere in history, the economic distress and strain of poverty was followed by psychological manifestations of a religio-sociological sort, among the lower and poor classes. In 1565, in the villages of Champagne and Brie and especially in the bailiwicks of Sens, Melun, Montereau, Nogent, Troyes, Châlons, Rheims, Epernay, Château-Thierry, Meaux, and Provins, the belief spread among the peasantry that in honor of the Virgin they ought to refrain from working in the fields on Saturday after midday, and that this Saturday rest had been formally ordered by the Virgin in revelations and apparitions. A young girl of Charly-sur-Marne, near Epernay, boasted of having received[288] these confidences, and showed miraculous signs of her mission. But the cardinal of Lorraine caused her to be arrested and questioned, and she was burned alive as a witch.[997]

Instead of going to Paris, the court passed the winter at Moulins in Bourbonnais,[998] where the famine was most slightly felt. By this time the expectations of the Catholics and the fears of the Huguenots were beginning to bear their bitter fruit, and in the state of public tension every incident was magnified. At Angers, in November, the Rohans, having forbidden Catholic worship upon their domains, the King had had to compel them to reinstate it by threatening to dispossess them of their châteaux; at Blois the cardinal Bourbon reproached the queen mother for suffering the edict to be violated by permitting the queen of Navarre and the prince of Condé to maintain court-preachers in their entourage. The Catholics of Dijon demanded that in future Calvinist ministers be forbidden to attend the last hours of the dying, a petition which the cardinal of Lorraine supported in order to make the chancellor L’Hôpital commit himself. The answer of the latter sustained the edict’s grant of the right of selection in the matter of religion. Of greater anxiety still was the influx of Huguenots into the town of Moulins, Montgomery among the rest, who for the first time since the fatal tournament of June 30, 1559, looked upon the court.[999]

The memory of the conspiracy of Amboise haunted the queen like a specter, and was the more vivid because of the rapprochement[289] between the leaders of the Huguenots and the Montmorencys, who had met together at Paris in November at the marriage of the amorous prince of Condé to Mlle. de Longueville. The incident was sharp enough to strike fire between the Catholic-Guisard and the Huguenot-Montmorency party. For when the papal nuncio indignantly demanded the cardinal of Beauvais’ renunciation of the purple, the constable bluffly said: “I am a papist. But if the Pope and his agents still seek to trouble the kingdom, my sword will be Huguenot. My nephew will never renounce his dignity. The edict gives him the right to it.” It is no wonder Catherine de Medici was anxious to hear of the report of these words at Madrid and what Philip II would say.[1000] The interdiction of the Protestant worship at Moulins on January 9, 1566, on the very day that Coligny returned from the wedding festivities, was her own reply.

The very next day she guarded against new fire being struck between the factions by compelling at least outward reconciliation between the admiral and the cardinal of Lorraine. On January 10, 1566, in the presence of the court, she addressed the cardinal, saying that the repose of the kingdom was destroyed by private quarrels and especially by two of his, the one with the marshal Montmorency, the other with the admiral for the murder of the duke of Guise.[1001] At the same time the queen mother, in order to preserve peace between the rivals, hit upon the novel scheme of lodging the cardinal and the admiral in the same house, so that each had to use the same stairway in order to reach his apartments, telling both that each was keeper of the other, and that if either of them experienced any injury it would be imputed to the other.[1002][290] The cardinal of Lorraine, for fear of losing all his influence, accepted the situation (he did not stir from the side of the queen),[1003] and was compelled to abide by the situation telle quelle, as Sir Thomas Smith wrote to Cecil.[1004] But nothing could mollify the anger of the constable against the Guises, and when the duke of Guise at length came to court in February, Montmorency left it forthwith.[1005]

While the factional feeling thus grew more embittered, serious and noble effort was yet made to carry out the demands of the States-General of Orleans and Pontoise—demands which were principles of the political Huguenots. This programme was supported by the queen mother, who seems in this way to have sought to placate the fears of the Huguenots for their faith. The year 1566 is notable for the fact that greater recognition was then accorded the political demands of the Huguenots than at any time hitherto, so that large progress was made in the betterment of the administrative system of France.

The King in his address to the council said that at his accession he had wanted to travel through all the provinces desolated by the late civil wars, in order to hear the complaints of his subjects and to remedy conditions in the best manner possible; that it was for this cause that he had convoked the assembly and so enjoined them, in virtue of the royal authority, to apply themselves diligently to affairs.

Then the chancellor spoke: after dwelling upon the general evils of the state, he asserted that the root of all the evils was the bad administration of justice; that the King had become convinced of this in the course of the tour of the provinces; that for himself he could not refrain from calling things by their right name and from speaking as he thought; that those who were appointed to administer justice were guilty of great excesses; that these evils had increased owing to the impunity and the license which obtained.


I do not deny [he added] that there are too many laws and ordinances in France and that the multitude of the laws and the number of the judges is the cause of much unnecessary and tyrannical litigation. But it is no less true that when new evils arise there is a necessity of new remedies, and that when the ancient laws have been abrogated either by inobservance or by license, it is necessary to make new ones in order to cure current evils and to arrest the course of public calamity. The public welfare requires new legislation. If the new laws are not observed, on account of the venality and avarice of the ministers of justice, they must be punished severely and these public pests who fatten upon the blood of a miserable people must be driven from office. Superfluous offices, moreover, must be abolished and the ruinous multiplication of legal causes stopped.

The justice of the last charge was particularly manifest. Since the time of Francis I it had been the practice of the crown to sell offices and even to create them for purposes of revenue only.

The chancellor further asserted that the King could not suffer those who had not the right to make laws to attribute to themselves the power to interpret them; he proposed to diminish the excessive number of the courts, and raised the question whether the demands of justice would not be better met if the Parlement ceased to be so sedentary and became ambulatory instead—a suggestion which, it is interesting to observe, found a partial realization in the seventeenth century in the establishment of the Grands Jours d’Auvergne. He insinuated that it was advisable to subject the judges to censure and to compel them to render account of the manner in which they exercised their office, and that it might be better to establish judges for two or three years than to permit the holding of office in perpetuity.

After longer deliberation, in February, 1566, the famous ordinance of Moulins was framed. It contained eighty-six articles, and dealt radically with the evils of the time and imposed drastic reform, especially in the administration of justice.

This act declared the royal domain inalienable, limited and regulated the right of remonstrances of parlement, organized circuits of inspection by magistrates especially appointed to go throughout the realm, instituted certain[292] changes in the judicial administration, and pledged the word of the crown to appoint capable and honest magistrates.[1006]

It profoundly modified both the public and private law of France. In the former sphere the ordinance strengthened the legislative power of the crown by laying down the principle that the King’s ordinances must be observed in spite of remonstrances on the part of the parlements, and even if the latter refused to register them; the maîtres des requêtes were enjoined to punish severely any infraction or failure to observe the ordinances. The powers of the governors in the provinces were much reduced; they were forbidden to exercise the right of pardon, to levy taxes, or to institute fairs and markets. The judicial power of the great villes was almost entirely suppressed. The communal judges were deprived of all civil jurisdiction and retained cognizance only of petty offenses; at the same time, the attempt was made to restrain seigneurial jurisdiction. The right of written proof was recognized in cases involving 100 livres or more.[1007] No less than 1,500 superfluous offices, treasurerships, secretaryships, etc., were abolished. In the matter of religion some of the articles were a confirmation of the edict of 1563. Another article abolished entirely all confraternities, and prohibited the formation of all leagues.[1008]

The financial administration came in for a most searching investigation. The flaunting arrogance of some of the King’s treasurers is remarkable. Numbers of them had had houses, and even châteaux which rivaled the King’s own in elegance, the means to purchase and furnish which they had secured by plundering the people and robbing the government. One treasurer—among[293] four who were hanged at Montfaucon—was found to owe the crown over three million livres.[1009]

The young duke of Guise, who had refused to be a party to the farcical reconciliation between his house and the Châtillons soon found means to leave the court. In May the duke of Nemours and the duchess of Guise were married at St. Maur-des-Fosses. It was a match which sowed dragon’s teeth once more. For Nemours forsook his wife, who was a Rohan, having induced the Pope to nullify the marriage. The Huguenots murmured indignantly against the insult done the Rohan clan whose powerful family influence was now joined with the Châtillons and Montmorencys.[1010]

Catherine de Medici was not the ruler to govern France with a firm yet facile hand under the circumstances that existed in 1566. Irrespective of foreign influences, which we shall presently come to, the economic distress[1011] of the country, the rivalry of the great houses, and the religious acrimony prevailing made a combination of forces that needed another sort of ruler to reconcile them—a ruler such as Henry of Navarre was to be. The queen mother, while a woman of force, was so deficient in sincerity that no one could have confidence in her; so jealous of power that she would brook no other control of the King, whose sovereignty she confounded with her maternal oversight of him, making no distinction[294] between Charles IX the ruler and Charles IX the son. Catherine time and again marred or ruined the progress she had made with the aid of one party’s support by her own envious fear of that party’s predominance. Her “bridge policy,”[1012] instead of uniting France, kept it divided. To maintain the balance of power—an immemorial Italian policy—her Italian nature resorted to duplicity and deception continually. Accordingly, suspicion prevailed at court and suspicion prevailed in the provinces, the more so in the latter because of the Huguenots’ uncertainty about what was done at Bayonne, and doubt as to Philip II’s course. Men were doubtful of their neighbors; towns were fearful of other nearby towns. “All the way of my coming hither,” reported Sir Thomas Hoby, the new English ambassador to France, “I found the strong towns marvelously jealous of strangers, insomuch that only by the sound of a bell they discovered a number of horsemen or footmen before they come; but also, after they are entered they have an eye to them.”[1013]

When the court finally moved to Paris, the great nobles came thither with such numerous trains[1014] that the queen sent four companies of the King’s guard ahead of his coming, and ordered the marshal Montmorency to require the retirement from the city of all those who were not of the ordinary household of each nobleman and gentleman. In vain the marshal, anxious to protect his party against the Guisards, resisted the order and complained that the queen was interfering with his authority. The King ordered Lansac and De la Garde to accomplish what Montmorency was unwilling to do.

If choice must be made as to who were the worst offenders in this respect, the greater blame lies with the Protestants. It was not only impolitic, it was insolent on their part to permit Montgomery to swagger around Paris as he did, “booted and spurred[295] with all his men.”[1015] Apparently the queen had not the daring to compel his withdrawal, as she did that of the Guises’ recruiting sergeant, Roggendorf.[1016] Her policy for the time being was to favor the Châtillon-Montmorency faction.[1017] Backed by the joint support of the admiral and the constable, the queen accordingly undertook to bring certain unsettled or indefinite matters of religion and the church to a conclusion. On May 31, 1566, Charles IX sent a series of articles to the cardinal Bourbon for consideration by the clergy of Paris, then sitting at St. Germain des Près. Two of these had to do with the baptism of infants where one of the parents was a Catholic, and the maintenance of Protestants schools. Three concerned church temporalities, namely, the redemption of the fourth part of the temporals of the church, given to the King during the late civil war; the subsidy which was to expire in eighteen months; and the preparation of an edict defining the privileges and jurisdiction of the church. The residue of the articles dealt with infractions of the Edict of Amboise, such as restraint of preaching according to the edict, and the molestation of former Protestants who had returned to the church of Rome by the Huguenots. By an awkward coincidence, the sending of these articles exactly coincided with the arrival of the papal legate in Paris, who came to request the promulgation of the decrees of Trent in conformity with the agreement made with the cardinal de Santa Croce at Bayonne.[1018]

Catherine de Medici’s policy at this time was that of the political Huguenots. She hoped that the question of religion would settle itself with time, and to divert attention from that issue, and also[296] because there was great need of it, she energetically continued the administrative and economic reforms begun at Moulins. L’Hôpital began so searching an investigation of the conduct of the King’s treasurers that some of them were hanged and others banished. The constable was of service here, although his notorious avarice tarnished the honesty of his work.[1019] Yet there was peril even in a policy so just and so much needed by France. Sooner or later such a course would unearth the dishonesty of bigger thieves than the small collectors of the revenue who, in many cases undoubtedly suffered for the peculation of their superiors. The administration was full of “grafters” such as St. André had been, who would not scruple to conceal their thievery behind the smoke of another civil war. The queen mother knew this only too well from former experience, not being unaware of the fact that one of the causes of “the late unpleasantness” was the demand of the estates that the Guises should make an accounting and be forced to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. The government resorted to various devices to raise money and an imposition was laid upon inn-keepers. The most singular expedient, though, was the offer of a Genoese syndicate to pay the King a lump sum for the privilege of taxing dowry gifts and for a license to endure eight years to levy a crown on every first-born infant, and after, for every boy born into a family five sous, and for every girl babe, three sous.[1020] This preposterous measure actually passed the council, and was only prevented from becoming law by the good sense of the Parlement.[1021]

But the events happening in the Netherlands were of greater importance to France at this time than anything within her borders. From the beginning of the insurrection there the Huguenots had recognized the important bearing of that struggle upon their own movement, and as the shadow of Philip II fell in greater length[297] each year across France, the interest of the French Protestants in the rebellion of the Low Countries increased.[1022] As Huguenot preachers in Flanders sowed the double seed of Calvinism and revolt, so Protestant preachers exiled from the Low Countries sought refuge in France.[1023] This intercourse became a formidable historical issue by 1566. The issue was understood from the beginning by all parties concerned, and Philip II and his ministers were determined to profit by the lesson of France and to prevent similar trouble by crushing all opposition in the bud. The Turkish attack upon Malta[1024] had been very favorable to the Protestant cause, and the raising of the siege in September, 1565, probably influenced the King of Spain in his resolution to extirpate heresy in the Low Countries.[1025] The Flemish government suspected William of Orange who by July was openly allied with the Gueux[1026] and his brother, Louis of Nassau, of direct intercourse with Condé[298] and Coligny,[1027] and sent Montigny—the faithless member of the patriotic quartette composed of Orange, Egmont, Hoorne, and himself—to Paris in the spring to pick up information.[1028] The fear lest Montgomery might come to Flanders, which Granvella had once laughed at, by the summer of 1566 had some basis of reality, although the braggadocio character of this adventurer discounted alarm.[1029]

Knowledge of the solidarity existing between his revolted subjects in Flanders and the Huguenots[1030] which Montluc had warned Philip of even two years before,[1031] coupled with information concerning the dealings of Louis of Nassau with Protestant[299] Germany[1032] and France, stirred the Spanish King’s habitual indecision into action. He sounded Charles IX as to the possibility of sending Spanish troops directly across France to the Low Countries and asked him to restrain his subjects from coming thither with arms,[1033] crowds of whom went to Flanders disguised as merchants.[1034] Simultaneously Margaret of Parma begged the Emperor to take the same course.[1035] But the government of France could not have honored Philip II’s request, even if it had been so minded, without risking an immediate rising of the Huguenots. As a matter of fact, it had no desire to do so. The resentment felt by France toward Spain on account of past scores at Trent, Rome, and in Switzerland, was now all eclipsed in her rancor because of the massacre by the Spaniards of her ill-fated colony in Florida in September, 1565.[1036]


Alexander VI’s bull had divided the western hemisphere between the Spanish and the Portuguese. Florida belonged to Spain. France had built Fort Caroline on Spanish territory. As peace existed in 1565, France argued that the massacre by Menendez was a violation of international law. To this Spain replied that Florida belonged to her by discovery and as all treaties between Spain and France were silent as to any change of ownership, there really had been no such change in law. Consequently the French settlers were intruders and heretics to boot. The answer was crushing, Fourquevaux was heavily handicapped, for he could not openly espouse the cause of Frenchmen who were heretics. Before news of the massacre reached France, Philip II, knowing the facts, inquired if the French expedition had been commanded or sanctioned by the French King. The only answer possible was a negative. An affirmative answer would have been tantamount to a declaration of war. “Then the incident is closed,” was the Spanish reply. This was followed by a demand that Coligny, under whose sanction the expedition had sailed, should be punished.

France was likewise at odds with the Emperor. The reason for this is to be found in the strong attitude the empire had lately taken on the question of Metz.[1037] Understanding of this question entails a glance backward. In 1564 the baron Bolwiller, a native[301] of upper Alsace, but at that time bailiff of the Emperor in the grand bailiwick of Haguenau, revived the plan he had conceived in 1558, of recovering Metz by a surprise.[1038] Bolwiller represented that no time was to be lost if France was to be prevented from fixing her hold upon the Three Bishoprics forever. Philip II favored the enterprise and offered 20,000 sous cash, and the assignment of 8,000 écus annual revenue of the territory, “pour celluy ou ceulx qui’lz luy rendroyent la ville du dict Metz.”[1039] For with Metz in the hands of the Hapsburgs once more, the chain of provinces connecting the Netherlands with Spain through mid-Europe would have been practically complete, lying as Metz, Toul, and Verdun did, between Franche-Comté and Luxembourg.[1040] This was at the time when Condé was recreant to his people and was dallying with the widow of the marshal St. André, and the idea was conceived and abandoned of buying the prince over and bribing him to betray Metz to Spain.[1041] Spain, however, in order to avoid a rupture with France wished to conceal her own participation in the plot to recover Metz, and urged the Emperor Maximilian to undertake the venture.[1042] The plot was to tempt Metz to revolt[302] against France by offering to convert it into a free imperial city, it being expected that the Lutherans in the city would support the movement.[1043] The alertness of the French government, however, foiled the project’s being undertaken in April. In August Bolwiller renewed his plan, alleging to Chantonnay that the people of Metz were ready to provide 20,000 écus, and that there were arms in plenty stored in secret. He urged prompt action now for the French government had begun the erection of a citadel in the city.[1044]

By this time Philip II was so anxious to see France despoiled of Metz and so impatient at Maximilian’s delay, that it was even considered advisable by some to take advantage of the check given the Turks at Malta and have the Emperor make peace with them in order to have his hands free in the Three Bishoprics.[1045] As for himself, Philip II dared not make an overt move against France, lest in the event of war with Spain, Charles IX appeal to the Huguenots, with the result that Protestantism would profit by the diversion.[1046]

But meanwhile things in Metz had got beyond control of either[303] Spain or the empire. The Calvinists in both France and the Netherlands had been quick to see the advantage afforded, for the former by gaining possession of the territory could connect France and the Palatinate, thus aiding themselves and their coreligionists at one and the same time, since by so doing the land route of Spain through Central Europe, via Milan, Besançon, and Luxembourg, would be cut in half. Matters came to a head in May and June, 1565, in what is known as the “Cardinal’s War.” On May 5 the Emperor Maximilian had issued a decree affirming his suzerainty over Metz, Toul, and Verdun. The cardinal of Lorraine at once recognized the validity of this decree, which was equivalent to treason to France. Thereupon, in the name of Charles IX Salzedo an ex-Spaniard[1047] and leader of the French party in Metz assumed the title of governor of Metz and appealed to the French King for support against the cardinal. The issue was really one between France and Spain. The Guises naturally supported the cardinal. The “war” which followed was not formidable, although the issue as stake was of great importance. But the cardinal soon discovered that discretion was the better part of valor and yielded to the King, more especially as neither Philip II nor Maximilian raised a hand for fear of betraying themselves, for the cardinal feared that if he resisted longer Charles IX would refuse to pardon his treasonable conduct. He was not unaware of the fact—he did not even deny it—that it was known that he had been in treasonable communication with Bolwiller and the archbishop of Trèves.[1048]

If Charles IX and the queen mother had known the full extent of the cardinal of Lorraine’s treasonable conduct at this time they[304] might not have been so lenient toward him. For he was guilty not only of treasonable intercourse with the empire, but directly with Spain also. The one supremely important result of this petty war over Metz is that at this time the cardinal—and with him the whole Guise house—began those secret negotiations with Philip of Spain which culminated in the establishment of the Holy League. Shortly after the end of his ignominious war around Metz, burning with anger and shame, the cardinal sent a secret agent to Franche Comté, who found Granvella at Beaudencourt in July, 1565, to whom he recited the cardinal’s grievances, saying that owing to the death of his brother the duke of Guise and the insolence of the marshal Montmorency, he had no hope in the justice of Charles IX. The agent then went on to point out the great danger threatening Catholic Europe by reason of what had recently happened at Metz, and, speaking for the cardinal of Lorraine, expressed the wish that Philip II would enter into a league with the house of Guise, the duke of Montpensier—Alva’s convert at Bayonne—and certain others for the protection of the Catholic faith in France and the overthrow of the Châtillons, the prince of Condé, “Madame de Vendôme,” and other Huguenots. This formidable overture was made under the seal of secrecy. The cautious Granvella listened but refrained from committing his master to the proposition.[1049] Again, Philip II hesitated to implicate himself so directly in French affairs, as the cardinal of Lorraine urged, just as he had hesitated the year before with Montluc, and[305] while he waited events in the Low Countries went from bad to worse.

In August, 1566, a furious outburst of iconoclasm swept through the churches of Flanders.

Commencing at St. Omer, the contagion rapidly spread, and in a fortnight 400 churches were sacked in Flanders alone, while in Antwerp the cathedral was stripped of all its treasures. Images, relics, shrines, paintings, manuscripts, and books shared a common fate.[1050]

The event stirred Philip to action. He determined to send the duke of Alva to Flanders to repress things with an iron hand.[1051]

On November 18, 1566, the duke of Alva formally requested the French ambassador at Madrid to secure Charles IX’s permission for a Spanish army to cross France.

The remedy has become little by little so difficult [said the duke] that deeds not words and remonstrances, are now necessary. Having exhausted all good and gracious means to reduce things in the Low Countries, the King is constrained, to his great regret, to have recourse to force. Public assemblies, preaching, the bearing of arms, and violence prevail in the land and the King’s ministers amount to nothing.

The duke then outlined the plan. Ten thousand new Spanish recruits under three ensigns were to be sent to Luxembourg, Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily to take the places of as many veteran troops there, for the King was unwilling to use Italian infantry. A thousand heavy-armed footmen and three or four hundred mounted arquebusiers, all Spanish, were to be drawn from Milan, the most loyal of Spain’s Italian dependencies. An indefinite number of reiters and other mercenaries could be had for the asking. These[306] troops would proceed to the Netherlands through Savoy by way of Val d’Aoste or Mt. Cenis, Montmélian, Chambéry, and La Bresse, into Franche Comté and Lorraine, unless—and this was the crux of Alva’s interview with Fourquevaux—the winter season made it impossible to traverse the mountain passes, in which case His Catholic Majesty desired leave of France to take them by sea to Marseilles or Toulon and thence to march them northward up the Rhône to La Bresse and so reach Franche Comté.

No one knew better than Alva the formidable nature of this proposition to France and he used all his artifice to conceal its danger, dwelling on the mutual connection between the Huguenot and the Flemish movement and the benefit that France would derive from the crushing of the rebellion in the Low Countries. Fourquevaux in reply declared that the Huguenots would fly to arms again, if a Spanish army should enter France, to which the duke rejoined that the presence of a Spanish army would so overawe them that they would not dare to do so. The ambassador then inquired whether the Emperor could support Philip, seeing that he was engaged in a war with the Turks[1052] and was incapable of raising funds in his behalf. Alva told him that the German princes would perceive that the Flemings were merely rebels and that “no prince or soldier in Germany, even were he a Lutheran, would refuse to take the pay of Spain.”[1053] But Fourquevaux refused to be convinced by Alva’s smooth words. He had information that Spain was borrowing ships from Malta, Genoa, and the papacy and Savoy and warned Charles IX to strengthen the garrisons in Languedoc and Provence.[1054]


This information threw the court of France into great excitement. Catherine de Medici declared that the heretics would take up arms immediately, under such circumstances.[1055] The King wrote to Fourquevaux on December 24 not to spare any efforts to penetrate the designs of Spain.[1056] Sixteen thousand troops were sent into the Lyonnais at once.[1057] The marshal Vieilleville returned to Metz.[1058] The government began the erection of a great citadel in Verdun and to fortify the frontier against Luxembourg.[1059] D’Andelot was sent to Switzerland to make new enrolments.[1060] An agent was sent into Normandy with instructions to pass along the coast and take the names of master-mariners and sailors.[1061] The queen of Navarre began to mobilize forces in Béarn.[1062] All this time the duke of Alva kept endeavoring to quiet French alarm by reiterating that he would use all means in his power to avoid troubling France and that the army destined for Flanders, now increased by 1,500 light horse composed of Spaniards, Italians, and Albanians, would go by the valley of the Rhône only as a last recourse.[1063]

Finally, in the middle of February, the duke of Alva’s preparations were made. Don Juan de Acuna, who had been sent to[308] Savoy to make arrangements with the duke for the transit of the Spanish army, returned, after having made a satisfactory settlement. The army was to go through Savoy, via the Mt. Cenis and Chambéry, cross the Rhône at Yenne, and so proceed to Besançon in Franche Comté, where it was to be joined by German contingents. This averted the danger threatening Languedoc and Dauphiné, but threw it upon French Burgundy and Champagne.[1064] It was a roundabout route for the Spanish troops in the Milanais, but it was impossible to send them directly through Switzerland by way of the Grisons, Constance, Basel, and Strasburg without inflaming these localities; above all, Geneva would thereby have been menaced, and any movement imperiling that city would have fired the entire Calvinist world.[1065]


In the face of common peril Bern, Freiburg, and Valais concluded a defensive league on February 20, while Basel and Zurich took up arms with French approval. Fear of a joint attack of Spain and Savoy upon Geneva prevailed throughout Switzerland, which was divided into two camps, the five cantons of the center favoring designs upon Geneva and the Vaud. Spain aimed to profit by the impression produced by the passage of her troops close to the Swiss frontier to force certain military advantages and dispossess France from the exceptional situation she had lately secured in the Alps. The western cantons were offered cheap salt from Franche Comté, and those of the center grain from the Milanais. The duke of Lorraine also offered salt at a low price from his duchy. As a result Bern found herself deserted by western Switzerland and apparently single-handed about to be called upon to protect Geneva from Spanish attack. Perhaps if Spain had been certain of the support of Savoy at this juncture, this might have happened, but the duke of Savoy was content to profit by the fear of the Bernois to compel them to restore the three bailiwicks which they had formerly agreed to do in the treaty of Lausanne, October 30, 1564, but had delayed to fulfil. Charles IX himself advised Bern to yield in this particular and in August the settlement with the duke of Savoy was made.[1066]

All that Philip now requested of France was leave for French subjects to provide the army with supplies in its course. Again Fourquevaux urged his sovereign to be cautious; the fact that France was just recovering from a year of famine and could ill spare sustenance for others was not so important as the necessity of avoiding every occasion of civil war.[1067]

On May 10, 1567, the duke of Alva sailed from Cartagena and arrived at Genoa on May 27. St. Ambroise at the foot of the Alps was the point where his munitions and provisions were concentrated. Here on June 2 the duke had a grand review of his troops. There[310] were 19 ensigns (3,230 men), from Naples, under the command of Alonzo de Uloa; 10 ensigns from Sicily (1,620 men) under command of Julian Romero; 10 ensigns of Lombard troops (2,200 men) under command of Don Sancho de Londono; 10 Sardinian ensigns with four companies of recruits in addition (1,728 men) under command of Don Gonzalo de Bracamonte, making a total of 49 ensigns of Spanish infantry (8,778 men). The duke’s cavalry was composed of five companies of Spanish light horse and three Italian and two Albanian companies and two companies of Spanish arquebusiers on horseback, in all 1,200 horses.[1068] On the march a company of 15 musketeers was placed between each ensign. This was the first instance in modern warfare when muskets were used in the field. Hitherto this weapon had been so enormously heavy that it was used in siege work only, balanced upon a triangle of wood or iron.[1069]


The route lay via Alessandria de la Paille, St. Ambroise, Aosta, Turin, the Mont Cenis, St. Jean de Maurienne, and the valley of the Arve through Savoy. In spite of his small array it was necessary to divide the army into three parts, the advance guard, the “battle,” and the rear guard. The “battle” each day occupied the place abandoned by the advance guard and was itself in turn replaced by the rear guard, the three divisions of the army marching one day apart. The duke of Alva commanded the advance guard, his son Don Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo the “battle;” while the rear guard was under the command of the Italian, Ciappin-Vitelli, Marquis of Cetona formally in the service of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The army thus divided occupied fourteen days in traversing Savoy. It was a long and toilsome journey through a wild and mountainous country, where the difficulties of the march were increased by constant dread of famine. In many places the country was completely sterile. In Burgundy the march was easier and twelve days brought the army via Dôle and Gray to Fonteney near Toul, whence twelve days more brought Alva by Thionville to Luxembourg (July 29), where he was joined by new forces.[1070]

In spite of the length of the march and the hardships of it, the duke retained his traditional iron discipline and the soldiers were not allowed to forage upon the country or to break ranks.[1071]


On August 12, 1567, the duke of Alva entered Brussels. General terror prevailed in the Low Countries upon his arrival. The Prince of Orange left the land. Count Egmont, naïvely declaring that he had done nothing wrong, remained; his friend Hoorne imitated his example. Alva at once sent away all the Flemish soldiers and quartered the city with the new troops. In order to facilitate his policy the duke created a special tribunal, not composed of lawyers “because they would not condemn without proofs.” This was the famous Council of Troubles which the people called the “Council of Blood.” The members of it held no commissions from the King, but were the simple agents of the duke of Alva. The most celebrated of them was a certain Vargas, a criminal himself, against whom action had been suspended in return for his infamous services.

If the policy of the Spanish government in Flanders took a new and different form with the coming of Alva, the revolution there was no less changed. The cardinal Granvella some months before this time had written to Philip II: “It is a general rule, in matters of state, that popular enterprises, if they do not terminate in the first outburst, generally vanish in smoke if the remedy for them be applied before they have time to follow up the movement.”[1072] He added that contemporary history afforded some striking examples of the truth of this observation. But the provinces he had lately governed were not of this category. For it is clear that a change had taken place in the nature of the Flemish revolt in the years 1565-67. The revolution by this time had passed through the earlier stages of defiance and rebellion and developed an organization with a definite, set purpose before it. The formation of the Gueux was the clearest manifestation of this change. In its inception this famous group was an aristocratic body, composed solely of nobles, and the Spanish government had little fear then of its becoming a popular association.[1073] Granvella saw the similarity[313] of the Gueux to the Huguenot association formed at Orleans in 1562, but he did not anticipate the popular nature it was soon to develop.[1074]

He was soon disillusioned. What was believed by the Spanish government to be a somewhat close political and aristocratic combination of nobles before long became a popular confederation of congregations having a religious propaganda, as well as a political purpose.[1075] Despite this change, however, Philip’s minister did not yet believe the Gueux to be formidable. As Alva had declared at Bayonne that all that was necessary to destroy the Huguenot party in France was to kill the “big fish,” so he now believed that if the leaders of the Gueux were cut off, their movement would die[314] too.[1076] But Alva soon discovered that the Gueux were hardly ever weakened by the detachment of certain of the nobles either by bribery or intimidation.[1077] By the time of his arrival, under Brederode’s able leadership, the Calvinists of the Flemish provinces had worked out a scheme of union in which every congregation was at once a parish, a rating precinct, a military hundred, and a political unit. Antwerp, whose population was so large and so cosmopolitan that police scrutiny could be easily evaded, and from which it was easy to make one’s escape, was the capital of the association, as Orleans first, and later La Rochelle, was for the Huguenots.[1078]

The Flemish government was soon alive to the necessity of breaking the power of this confederation.[1079] Membership in the confederation, if proved, was heavily punished. The retirement of the prince of Orange from the land was believed by the government to be due to a prudent effort to avoid being so compromised. It was certainly true of Brederode. But Egmont and Hoorne remained, declaring they had done nothing, and renewed their oath of allegiance to the King.[1080] Nevertheless Granvella sarcastically quoted Lycurgus that neutrals were more odious than enemies. “After the towns have been cleared out,” wrote the provost Morillon, “it will be time to attack the garden in order to destroy the weeds and roots there,” and Spain’s agent at Amsterdam at the same time wrote: “God may pardon those who are the cause of one and the other league; but I assure you, unless I am much mistaken, that those who have made others to dance, have some other purpose than we know. Time will discover it.”[1081]


Original copper plate by Franz Hogenberg.


This somewhat long dissertation upon the nature and development of the confederation formed by Philip’s II revolted subjects in Flanders is not a digression beside the mark. The number of Huguenots to be found in the Low Countries in 1566-67, intriguing with their coreligionists against Spain was very great. The duke of Bouillon and the prince of Porcien were the most prominent of these.[1082] In the aggregate the number was so great and their participation so serious a matter for the government, that the maintenance of the frontier against the French was urged upon Alva as the first necessity, immediately after his arrival at Brussels.[1083] France for her own part began to erect a citadel at Verdun and to strengthen the Picard frontier, whose towns received new troops in June, and when word came that there were German troops in Luxembourg awaiting Alva’s arrival, D’Andelot was sent to the frontier of Champagne with 6,000 Swiss which the government had levied.[1084] This action ruffled Philip II’s temper, for to him it was flaunting his failure to break the alliance of the Swiss with France in his very face. His ambassador in France protested energetically and charged the queen with duplicity.[1085] At Madrid the nuncio inquired with curiosity of Fourquevaux, in what spirit Philip II—who had had an audience with the ambassador the day before—received the news of France’s activities in Switzerland. “I told him,” wrote the ambassador to Charles IX, “that it was the usage and custom of great kings and princes whenever they saw their neighbors arming, to assure themselves also of their realms[316] and states.”[1086] Calais was a double source of anxiety, first because Spain, in pursuance of Alva’s recommendation, had not been content with fortifying Gravelines, but had actually built a fort of earth only five paces from the turnpike which marked the French limit; secondly, because at this embarrassing time Elizabeth of England had conceived the thought of reviving the English claim to Calais.[1087] With the purpose of fathoming her son-in-law’s designs Catherine sent the younger L’Aubespine to Madrid.[1088] War with Spain was already on the lips of some in France.[1089]

In spite of the wisdom of these military precautions on the part of the French crown, the Huguenots grew alarmed lest there was a movement on foot to repress the edict.[1090] There was designed intention in the unadmirable conduct of the prince of Condé, and perhaps some in that of Coligny too. The prince craved chief command of the army, and a war with Spain was in a direct line with his aspirations. He had been well treated since the peace of Amboise, having been given the government of Picardy and the[317] county of Rotrou, which was erected into a duchy under the name of Enghien-le-François. But his appetite for power was insatiable. In July, after angry speech with the King, Condé had retired from court, and was followed by the admiral, who gave out that he had discovered “some practice that wholly tended to his confusion.”[1091]

It was small politics. In this time of external danger from the furtive designs of Philip II and the blustering enmity of England, the honorable course of every subject of France was to stand by the King and the nation. The Huguenot leaders compromised the cause at large by indulging their personal vanity, their petty spite, their pique at such an hour. Friction there was, disagreement there was over the interpretation and the working of certain parts of the edict of Amboise. The Catholics, for example, complained that the intention of the edict was evaded by the Huguenots, asserting that in cases where the right of preaching was permitted to all barons and high justiciars only for themselves and their tenants, and for others of lower degree for their household only, congregational worship was held under cover thereof.[1092]

The bigotry of Paris and its vicinity, though, was the worst source of disaffection. In the city district captains were chosen[318] by the populace to watch against Protestant activity—the nucleus of the famous Sixteen (Seize) of Paris in 1589-94. It would have been the height of political inexpediency, under such circumstances, to have tried to enforce the letter of the edict in the Ile-de-France. The July amendment of the edict of Amboise prohibiting exercise of Protestant worship throughout the Ile-de-France except in such places as should be licensed by the King, and the further one prohibiting Protestants from filling public offices in the cities,[1093] I believe was framed for the purpose of avoiding conflict and not with any reactionary purpose. It is certainly of significance that the liberal chancellor L’Hôpital favored them.[1094] Patience and experience would have worked out the solution of such difficulties as these. It was criminal in the prince of Condé to fan the ashes of the late civil war into flame once more. For in this tense state the prince deliberately exaggerated and misrepresented things for his own purpose and a spark from Flanders—Alva’s arrest of the counts Egmont and Hoorne on September 9—kindled France into flame again.

The arrival of the news in France unfortunately coincided with the session of two synods of the Huguenots, one at Châtillon-sur-Loing, the other at Valéry.[1095] Dismay prevailed in them. The preachers cried out that the arrest of Egmont and Hoorne[1096] was the proof of a secret alliance between Spain and France for the overthrow of Calvinism. The truth of Bayonne was out at last! Coligny’s iron will might still have kept them in order, however, if in the midst of this excitement word had not also come that 6,000 Swiss whom Charles IX had enrolled to cover the French frontier against the duke of Alva had entered France. The double news was too much for the excited minds of the Huguenots. The admiral and the prince who had failed to perceive the true policy of France in Switzerland, in desperation turned to the constable for[319] a word of truth and comfort. But the old Montmorency, who desired to have his son, the marshal Montmorency, succeed him in the office of constable[1097] (which the prince of Condé coveted for himself), roughly rejoined: “The Swiss have their pay; don’t you expect them to be used?”[1098] The words were brutally and thoughtlessly said. They merely imported anger. The Huguenots interpreted them to mean that they were to be overcome by military force, and Protestantism coerced, if not extinguished. The synod of the Huguenots at Valéry[1099] resolved upon war. The conference was held in the admiral’s château at Châtillon under the outward guise of a banquet. There were present the prince of Condé, La Rochefoucault, the cardinal of Châtillon, D’Andelot, Bricquemault, Teligny, Mouy, Montgomery, and other nobles of mark, besides some Huguenot ministers. The conference lasted the entire week, at the end of which it was resolved that all the Huguenots in France should be notified in every bailliage and sénéschaussée, by the deacons and other officers of their congregation; that they should be called upon to furnish money according to the means which they had, for the payment of reiters from Germany, which the count palatine of the Rhine was to levy; and that all the young men of the religion capable of bearing arms were to be enrolled for military service.[1100]

The plan was as bold as it was simple. It was to gain possession of the King’s person by a sudden coup de main, for which purpose a force of 1,500 horse was to be brought secretly to Valéry. The court at this time was residing at the Château de Monceaux near Meaux, and was without more than nominal military protection.[1101][320] On the evening of September 24, the queen learned of the rendezvous at Rosay-en-Brie. A midnight council was called. The Swiss, who had reached Château Thierry, were hastily summoned. The Lorraine party and the duke of Nemours advised immediate return to Paris. The chancellor and Montmorency endeavored to persuade the King against so doing.[1102] The former pointed out that to go to Paris would be for the King to commit himself to the most bigoted of his subjects and destroy the possibility of an amicable settlement, while the constable argued that Meaux was a fortified city capable of withstanding a siege, and that to leave it might be to court defeat in the open country. In the dilemma the Swiss colonel Pfiffer cast the die.

“May it please your Majesty,” cried he, “to entrust your person and that of the queen mother to the valor and fidelity of the Swiss. We are 6,000 men, and with the points of our pikes we will open a path wide enough for you to pass through the army of your enemies.”[1103]


“Enough,” Charles rejoined. “I would rather die free with you than live a captive among rebels.”[1104]

The return to Paris began at four o’clock in the morning. “When the Swiss arrived at Meaux,” wrote Correro, “I vow they were the most villainous looking gang I have ever seen. Yet in battle array they were admirable. Three times they turned upon the enemy and lowering their pikes charged upon them like savage dogs in serried ranks and in good order, without one being a pace in advance of another. Thus the King was able with his suite to get to Paris.”[1105] He reached the Louvre that night, travel-worn, hot, famished, and so angry that his fierce disposition never lost the memory of that humiliation.[1106]

The affair of Meaux came like a thunder-clap to most of France. The suddenness of the Huguenot action and the all but complete success of it astonished men. “This movement,” wrote the Venetian ambassador, “of which several thousand men had knowledge, was conducted with such precaution that nothing leaked out until it was all but an accomplished fact. This could not possibly have been done without the perfect intelligence that exists among the Huguenots, and is a striking manifestation of their organization throughout the realm.”[1107]

In the light of this judgment, it remains to describe the Huguenot form of government.

The ecclesiastical—and political unit—of French Calvinism was the congregation. Congregations were grouped “according to number and convenience” into colloquies or classes which met from two to four times each year, the division being made by the[322] authority of the provincial synod.[1108] In church matters, no church had any primacy or jurisdiction over another, nor one province over another.[1109] Ministers brought with them to local classes or provincial synods one or two elders chosen out of their consistories.[1110] Elders who were deputies of churches had an equal power of voting with the pastors.[1111] The authority of a provincial synod was subordinate to that of the national synod,[1112] and whatever had been decreed by provincial synods for the government of the churches in their province had to be brought before the national synod.[1113] The grand lines of division followed the historic provincial divisions of France, but smaller provinces and parts of the larger ones, as Guyenne and Languedoc, were associated together. The national synod of 1559 divided France into sixteen Protestant provinces, as follows: (1) The Ile-de-France, Chartrain, Picardy, Champagne and Brie; (2) Normandy; (3) Brittany; (4) Orleans, Blesois, Dunois, Nivernais, Berry, Bourbonnais, and La Marche; (5) Touraine, Anjou, Loudunois, Maine, Vendôme, and Perche; (6) Upper and Lower Poitou; (7) Saintonge, Aunis, La Rochelle, and Angoumois; (8) Lower Guyenne, Périgord, Gascony, and Limousin; (9) Upper and Lower Vivarais, together with Velay, and Le Forêt; (10) Lower Languedoc, including Nîmes, Montpellier,[323] and Beziers; (11) Upper Languedoc, Upper Guyenne, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Quercy, Rouergue, Armagnac, and Upper Auvergne; (12) Burgundy, Lyonnais, Beaujolais, Bresse, Lower Auvergne, and Gex; (13) Provence; (14) Dauphiné and Orange; (15) Béarn; (16) the Cevennes and Gévaudan.[1114]

This administrative partition, however, did not remain fixed. Some provinces, like Brittany, had so few Protestants in them, that the Huguenots therein could not stand alone, and the first civil war brought out the weakness of this system. Accordingly, in 1563, the map of France was partitioned anew, and the former sixteen “provinces” were reduced to nine. Some of the changes made are interesting. For example, the Chartrain was cut off from the Ile-de-France and attached to the “province” of Orleans, manifestly in the endeavor to keep a connecting link between Normandy and the Loire country. Brittany was strengthened by the annexation of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine which formerly constituted an independent “province,” which obviously drew it into closer connection with the stronger Calvinistic provinces. The “province” of Upper and Lower Poitou was combined with Saintonge, Aunis, and Angoumois, thus knitting together all the country watered by the Charente, the Clain, and lesser streams. Burgundy, Lyonnais, Beaujolais, Bresse, Lower Auvergne, and Gex absorbed the small Huguenot province composed of Vivarais, Velay, and Le Forêt. But the most interesting consolidation was in the south of France. Formerly Upper Languedoc, in which were Nîmes, Montpellier, and Beziers; Lower Languedoc, comprising Upper Guyenne, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Quercy, Rouergue, Armagnac, and Upper Auvergne; Provence; Dauphiné, and Cevennes-Gévaudan had each formed separate “provinces.” But in 1563 this immense territory was all united to form the great Huguenot province of Languedoc. The only ancient provinces which remained unchanged in 1563 were Normandy,[1115] Béarn, and Lower Guyenne, with Périgord and Limousin.


The Huguenot ecclesiastical organization and its political organization were one and the same. The congregations, the “colloquia,” the synods, constituted both taxation units and military cadres.[1116] The strength of the Huguenot organization, however, before the massacre of St. Bartholomew, I believe has been exaggerated, except in Guyenne where, in the vicinity of Nérac especially, Montluc early came in contact with a powerful combination of the Huguenots.[1117] The strong elements in the Protestant organization were its simplicity and the vigilance of all, from provincial chiefs to simple pastors, who made up for scarcity of numbers by the most zealous activity.[1118] “If our priests,” wrote the Venetian Correro in 1569, “were half so energetic, of a certainty Christianity would not be in danger in this country.”[1119] It was not until after 1572 that the Huguenot organization reached a high point of military and political development, when a solid federation of the Reformed churches was formed at Milhaud in 1574, with rating precincts, military hundreds and civil jurisdictions.[1120]

Exactly as the early organization of the Huguenots has been overemphasized, so has the republican nature of the early Huguenot movement been exaggerated. Apart from whatever religious motives may have actuated them, the Protestant nobles were influenced by political ambition; the bourgeoisie by the hope of administrative[325] and economic reform; the masses by the general spirit of discontent. The Huguenots did not present a united front until after St. Bartholomew, when the fusion of the political Huguenots with the Politiques reduced the “religious” Huguenots to a left-wing minority. Before 1572 the political ideas of the Reformed, if not still inchoate, were not harmonized into one homogeneous cause, backed up by a compact and highly organized political system. Individual political theorists or fanatic devotees, of course, were to be found in the Huguenot ranks, but there was no systematic political philosophy to guide their conduct before the massacre of St. Bartholomew. It was this catastrophe that crystallized Huguenot opinion and organized combination on a large scale.[1121] In Guyenne, alone, where, as has been said, the Huguenot organization was most completely developed at an early date, does any clear republican idea seem to have early obtained.[1122]




In this wise, after a respite of four years, the second civil war was precipitated. There was an exodus of Huguenots at once from Paris, some repairing to the prince of Condé, some to the duke de Rohan, others to Montgomery in Lower Normandy where a war of the partisans began at once.[1123] The capital was in a furious mood and the King’s presence alone prevented the Parisians from massacring the Protestants there and the Montmorencys.[1124]



The chief effort of the Huguenots was to seize the towns on the Seine above and below Paris, in order to stay provisions, and so to compel the government to submit.[1125] The capture of the Pont de Charenton[1126] by Condé’s forces was a heavy blow to the government, as Charenton chiefly supplied Paris with wheat and flour. The Parisians fully expected to be attacked and made preparations therefor by breaking up the stones in the streets and piling them in heaps for ready service or taking them into their houses; at the same time they destroyed pent-houses and other similar insignificant structures in order that they might the better hurl their missiles.[1127] So suddenly had the war been begun that the blockade of Paris for the time being was almost complete. Lagny on the Marne,[1128] Charenton, Porchefontaine, Busanval, Argenteuil, St. Ouen, Ambervilliers, and St. Denis constituted the inner zone of Huguenot control while farther out Montereau on the highroad to Sens, Etampes on the road to Orleans and in the heart of the wheat district that supplied the capital,[1129] Dourdan at the junction of the Blois-Chartres roads, and Dreux on the road toward Normandy, formed an outer circle. So closely was Paris invested that the windmills in the faubourgs of St. Denis, St. Honoré, and Port St. Martin were burned by the Huguenots. The churches for leagues around were plundered of copes, chasubles, tunics, and other rich silk and satin garments. The Huguenot gentry made shirts and handkerchiefs out of the lace and linen of[328] the clergy. But all gold and silver taken, as altar-vessels, crosses, chalices, were turned into the general spoil for the sake of the cause.[1130] Forced loans were imposed upon small merchants and even the peasantry were constrained to forced labor,[1131] so that the latter fled by hundreds to Paris.

The ravages of the Huguenots were so great that they defeated the very purpose they had in mind. For thousands of the peasantry, under cover of a liberal ordinance intended to provision Paris,[1132] drove their cattle into the city and carted thither the grain and provisions they had stored up against the winter, where they sold it cheap, rather than see it destroyed by “volleurs quilz pillent et brulent granges, maisons, moulins et font tout le mal qu’ilz peullent faire.”[1133] Wine, meat, and bread were not dear in Paris; beechnut oil and oats were at a reasonable price.



The queen mother, who looked to Alva for the most immediate aid,[1134] sent the chancellor L’Hôpital, the liberal marshal Vieilleville, and Jean de Morvilliers, bishop of Orleans, to confer with the prince of Condé in order to gain time. But the prince was so elated with his successful blockade of Paris that his demands rose in degree, and could not be accepted by the government. Yet the nature of these demands is to be observed, for it is evidence of the fact that the conflict was becoming more and more a political one, and that the religious issue, if not a minor issue, at least was but an element in the programme of the Huguenots. Moreover, these demands are interesting for the reason that they represent a new stage in the evolution of the struggle and that henceforth they are a permanent contention of the Huguenots and ultimately are embodied in the Edict of Toleration. The prince, whose chief object was to overthrow the Guises and get the government of the King and the management of affairs into his own hands[1135] insisted on the free exercise of religion throughout the realm without limitation or distinction of places or persons; that all taxes lately authorized should be remitted and all new forms of taxation imposed since the reign of Louis XII abolished; that an accounting be made of the money granted for defraying the King’s debts; that all those who had been deposed from their offices on account of religion should be reinstated; and that four fortified towns be placed in his hands as security for the good intentions of the crown. Furthermore, the prince demanded the dismissal of the Swiss and Spanish regiments.[1136]

In due time the prince of Condé discovered that delay was disastrous. Although his force had daily increased by new accessions from the south,[1137] nevertheless the Huguenot position was not so strong as it appeared. Paris rallied to the cause of the King and gave him 400,000 écus, while the clergy advanced 250,000.[1138] The duke of Guise was in Champagne with troops of Champagne and Burgundy, besides eight companies of men-at-arms.[1139] Moreover, recruits were pouring in to help the King, some from the duke of Savoy,[1140] some from Piedmont under command of Strozzi, whose approach the admiral and De Mouy tried to prevent, and some from Pope Pius V, who bestirred himself in behalf of France as[330] soon as he was informed of the renewal of hostilities once more.[1141] The Huguenots made strenuous efforts to break the Swiss alliance and to persuade the Protestant Swiss cantons to withdraw. But fortunately for the French crown, the cantons remained firm, for without the assistance of Swiss troops, Charles IX would have been hard put to it for an army, for he dared not accept the all too interested offers of Philip II.[1142] As in the first civil war, both parties looked to Germany for assistance[1143] and the queen mother sent Lignerolles “to practice the stay of the reiters, and on his return, to the count palatine to desire him not to succor the prince and his associates, affirming that their rising was not of any zeal of religion, but only to rebel against their prince.”[1144][331] The Huguenots also made overtures to Philip II’s revolted subjects.[1145]

By the middle of October the prince of Condé discovered that he was lying between two enemies, Paris and the new troops coming up, and every day added to his peril. There can be little doubt but that the queen mother purposely protracted the negotiations, knowing that by so doing Condé’s security would be diminished. Signs were not wanting to indicate that matters were coming to a head. On October 7 the King sent a herald to the prince to proclaim that all who were with him should unarm and repair to Paris, whereby they might save their lives and goods, which, if they refused to do so, should be confiscated.

The same day the constable declared how the King, trusting to bring certain of his subjects to good conformity by his clemency, had sent his chancellor to assure them that his edicts made for religion and pacification should be inviolably kept, and that no man should be molested for the same; and that touching other small articles he was in full mind to have satisfied them. Notwithstanding, they would not submit themselves to any reason; wherefore the King was fully resolved to declare them rebels and prosecute them accordingly, for the maintenance whereof he would venture both body and goods. On October 8 proclamation was made that if the prince with his associates would submit themselves to the King within three days he would freely pardon all that was past; but if they refused, they were to be accounted as rebels and it was to be lawful to all the King’s subjects to kill all such as they should find armed. In expectation of battle, the constable was made lieutenant-general of the King’s army.[1146]

Yet despite the precariousness of his situation the prince was still confident. His pride was hardened by the capture of Orleans by La Noue on September 28,[1147] and of Soissons.[1148] He enlarged the[332] Protestants’ demands, requiring that Calais, Boulogne, and Metz[1149] be delivered to them as surety, that the King disarm first and that one church of every “good town” in France be permitted to those of the religion; and that 300,000 francs be granted the prince to pay his troops, “whereby they may return hence without pillage.”[1150] The crown scornfully rejected the terms and assumed a rapid offensive. On the night of November 6 Strozzi’s band destroyed a bridge of boats planked together which the prince had made in order more effectually to cut off Paris; on the following day another point on the river which threatened Paris was captured by the duke of Nemours, and on the 9th Condé was compelled to withdraw from Charenton after breaking the bridge and firing the town. On November 8 the prince had made the blunder of weakening his main force by sending D’Andelot to seize Poissy and Montgomery to get possession of Pontoise, the two open places in the inner zone of steel drawn around Paris.[1151] The crisis of real battle came in their absence, on November 10, the battle of St. Denis. It was a fierce and bloody fray beginning about 3 o’clock and lasting till dark, in which both sides suffered severely. Montmorency, “more famous than fortunate in arms,” was twice slashed in the face by a cutlass and then shot in the neck and the small of his back by pistol bullets fired by the Scotch captain named Robert Stuart[1152] serving with the Huguenots. The old veteran, thinking his assailant did not recognize him, cried out: “You do not know me. I am the constable.” But the Scot, as he fired, replied: “Because I know you, I give you this!”[1153] Though the white-liveried horsemen of Condé passed through and through the King’s soldiery and though the constable was mortally wounded the battle was not won by the prince.[1154] On November 14 the Huguenot army filed out of St. Denis “without sound of trumpet or stroke of drum.” The prince established temporary headquarters at Montereau toward Sens, but later moved up the Marne to the vicinity of Troyes with the duke of Guise following slowly after him, in order to effect a junction with the reiters of duke Casimir of the Palatinate, which the government was unable to prevent.[1155]


From photograph of the original sketch, probably made by the son of Sir Henry Norris, English ambassador in France. Original in Public Record Office, State Papers, Foreign, Elizabeth, Vol. XCV, No. 1813. It is dated November 10, 1567, and measures 31½ × 23?


The presence of the Huguenot forces seemed like the return of the reiters to the folk in Champagne, who hid their treasures in stables, gardens, chimneys, and the like. Some concealed their money and jewels in crannies in the walls; others hid them in the swaddling clothes of babes. But even this was to no purpose, for the soldiers plucked the children from the very breasts of their mothers and stripped them in order to find what was hidden upon them.[1156]

After the battle of St. Denis two opinions divided the King’s council. Some urged the queen, who was at Fontainebleau, to make new overtures; others, who reflected the opinion of Paris, were for pursuing the war. The queen mother acted upon the first suggestion, but nothing came of the overtures because the King insisted upon disarmament of the Huguenots before considering their terms.[1157] Active preparations were therefore made to[334] push the war in the provinces, somewhat to the surprise of the Catholic gentry who had thought it was finished on the field of St. Denis.[1158] Camps of artillery, the infantry, and the Swiss were established at Voulton, St. Martin-des-Champs, Gymbrois, and other points in Champagne and Brie, while the cavalry was lodged in other parishes. Garrisons were also posted in the châteaux and maisons fortes of the Huguenots in the region. Without counting the territory covered by the advance guard of the King’s army, a strip of territory was occupied over ten miles long and six wide, and containing more than fifty thousand persons.[1159] For the feeding of this host, an ordinance of the master of the camp ordered the seizure of all the local bakeries, the necessary grain being commandeered from the merchants and farmers of the locality. Besides these provisions the soldiery, since they were quartered[335] on households, freely consumed bread, meat, wine, and other food where they were, without payment.

The presence of the King’s troops was a heavy drain upon the resources of the region, more especially since the summer had been so dry that the crops were thin. Indeed so great was the drought that even swamps grew dry and there were public prayers and processions for rain in all the parishes of France. Fortunately rain fell in time to save the vines so that the wine did not fail, else the condition of France would have been one of great distress.[1160]

On November 20 two thousand horsemen arrived in Paris from Flanders. The hope of the French Protestants was chiefly pinned upon John Casimir of the Palatinate, son of the elector Frederick, and a force of German reiters, the expectation of whose coming had induced Condé to move eastward toward Troyes. The count palatine drew a sharp line in his own mind between religion and politics. He would have been quick to resent any invasion of his rights as a ruler. But he did not understand French politics, and looked upon the Huguenot movement as a purely religious one to which he felt bound to give support because he was a zealous Protestant.[1161] The French government sent the bishop of Rennes and Lignerolles to endeavor to dissuade the count palatine; they affirmed that the rebellion of Condé was not for any zeal of religion but for political advantage. But the prince’s emissary outmatched the bishop and his colleague, assuring the count palatine that the sole cause of the Huguenot insurrection was the preservation of the free exercise of religion, together with their honor, lives, and goods.[1162] The argument of Charles IX that the estate of himself and realm was so intermingled with that of religion that the count palatine could not touch one without offense to the other, was not convincing to Casimir.[1163]


To add to Catherine’s anxiety the Emperor revived the old project to seize the Three Bishoprics,[1164] a project made doubly dangerous by the new machinations of the cardinal of Lorraine. For, in order to safeguard the Catholic cause in France and to save Metz from being lost entirely after the Huguenots had captured the citadel in October, the cardinal of Lorraine, had resumed his secret negotiations with Spain. Instead, however, of writing direct to Philip II he wrote to Alva, for time was pressing and the danger great. On November 1, 1567, a chaplain of the cardinal appeared before the duke in Antwerp bearing a letter imploring Alva to come to the assistance of the French crown and offered to put him in possession of certain places in France. At first Alva was so incredulous that he imprisoned the bearer[1165] until he was satisfied of the verity of his mission. Nevertheless he immediately sent 3,000 horsemen into the country of Seyn (between Wied and Bas-Isenberg) whose ruler was a pensioner of Spain, ordered count Mansfeldt to go to Luxembourg, and dispatched a message to the margrave of Baden for 1,000 horsemen with the object of preventing Germans going to France or the war there from spreading to the Spanish provinces. Finally, when persuaded of the truth of[337] the cardinal’s overtures, Alva said that if circumstances so developed as to make such action on his part an imperative duty before the King of France could be apprised, he would do so; and that if the King were overwhelmed by the Huguenots, he would believe it his duty for the sake of protecting the Catholic faith to occupy the places offered by the cardinal, which might be held in pawn by Spain as collateral for French repayment of her services.[1166] But the treasonable designs of the cardinal of Lorraine went even farther than an offer to surrender some of the border fortresses of France into Spanish hands. As early as this time the possible deposition of the house of Valois was contemplated by the Guises in favor of the Spanish-Hapsburg dynasty. For the cardinal went on to say that in event of the early death of Charles IX and his brothers Philip II of Spain would be heir to the throne of France through his wife, Elizabeth of Valois. “The Salic law is a pleasantry,” he added, “and force of arms could overcome any opposition”![1167] “This last,” wrote Alva to Philip, “is a different matter and I cannot risk taking a hand in it without express instructions from your Majesty.”

The habitual self-control of the Spanish monarch must have been heavily taxed to subdue his emotion when he learned of this astonishing negotiation. But he was true to his second-nature. Without apparent excitement he endorsed the document thus: “This point is one upon which more time is needed to reflect, because it would be difficult to do what the cardinal asks without compromise. On the other hand, it is hard to decline for such a cause what is thrown into my arms. However, I think that a[338] decision in this matter is not urgent. Let the duke inform me what he thinks about it, according to the state of things there.”[1168] Was it caution, or hesitation, or procrastination?

As an intermediate course, one less compromising and perhaps quite as effective in the long run, Alva suggested, although with some misgiving, to the cardinal of Lorraine that he come in person to the relief of the French crown.[1169] While he was debating this question with himself, news came of the battle of St. Denis and of the approach of the reiters; and hard upon this, word from Catherine de Medici asking for the aid of 2,000 Spanish arquebusiers against the reiters.[1170] The duke of Alva, in reply, after chiding Catherine for not accepting the offers of assistance he had made immediately after Meaux,[1171] offered to send 2,000 arquebusiers and 2,000 cavalry—he could not now spare the great force he had proffered earlier—to the assistance of the duke of Aumale against the reiters,[1172] although admitting, with grim pleasantry, that there was a certain humor in casting firebrands into a neighbor’s house when one’s own was burning.[1173] But the offer came too late to be of service, thus fortunately sparing Catherine from the humiliation[339] of having introduced in France a power whose purpose was the overthrow of France.[1174]

In the meantime, while Condé was encamped between Sens[1175] and Troyes, the reiters had entered Lorraine to the number of about six thousand.[1176] Their coming thwarted the plans of the duke of Guise, who was on the frontier with the marshal Tavannes, for it prevented the French commanders from joining with Count Mansfeldt and the duke of Lorraine and compelled them to fall back.[1177] The junction of Condé and the reiters was effected on December 28, and a camp established at Dessay. The King’s army of all sorts comprised 30,000 footmen and half as many horse.[1178] Nevertheless, despite the adverse prospect, the government did not waver. The capital was intensely loyal. In response[340] to a call of the King, the Parisians made a general muster of 30,000 and offered 1,200,000 francs for the maintenance of the war.[1179]

Tentative efforts, however, were even yet made to make peace, to the indignation of the Parisians.[1180] The insistence of Charles IX, though, upon an immediate laying-down of arms was an effective obstacle to any cartel that might have been arranged. In reply to the articles sent by the King to the prince of Condé, the latter responded that the Protestants had no intention to prescribe the law to the King, but only humbly to require such things as were necessary for the liberty of their consciences and the preservation of their lives and goods, namely, that the edict of Orleans should be observed without any alterations; that bailiwicks should be appointed for the free exercise of religion; that they should be preserved in the enjoyment of their estates and offices; that those of Lyons should have the same liberty as the rest of the subjects of the realm; that synods should be permitted, and that the Edict of Pacification should be declared irrevocable.[1181]


In his answer Charles IX declared that he would never agree to treat with the prince of Condé or any other subject as with an equal; he promised to pardon what had passed if the Protestants would lay down their arms within three days and retire to their houses and give up the places taken by them; that where certain gentlemen complained of having been prosecuted for exercising their religion in their houses, he was content that this should cease, provided that there were not more than fifty persons present exclusive of their families; that he intended to keep his forces in his hands and to dispose of and govern towns as he pleased; that the town of Lyons, being full of strangers, should not be allowed the exercise of religion; that all enrolment of men, associations, and synods, must cease; and finally, that the King would immediately dispatch his letters-patent to assure the prince and his company of their lives, goods, and the liberty of their consciences, if these conditions were complied with.[1182]

The truth is, the French government prepared for war with great reluctance. Philip II’s anxiety lest the queen would come to terms with her adversaries was a just one.[1183] The King’s expenses amounted to nearly a million livres per month,[1184] and he had “to quiet such storms as daily arose in his camp amongst his nobility, partly for religion and partly for ambition.”[1185] Unless Spain came strongly to the relief of the Catholic cause in France, it was apparent that Condé could go almost wherever he pleased in the country, his force was so great.[1186] Many of the King’s soldiers were ill-minded to fight against their countrymen and many[342] deserted. The Swiss were wearied by travel and the inclemency of the season and there was much disease among them.[1187] The leaders wrangled for the command.[1188] There was mutiny and desertion in the ranks of the Scotch Guard, thirty of whom deserted to the prince, or rather to their old commander Montgomery.[1189] All along the line of the King’s forces there was opposition to the war. The chevalier Battres told Charles IX that many of the nobles were determined to hazard the King’s displeasure rather than to stain their hands in their kinsmen’s blood.[1190] The marshal Cossé showed unwonted courage in his advocacy of moderation[1191]—a policy which he openly admitted and approved in the Council meeting (February 10). The germ of the Politique party is thus early discoverable.[1192]

The duke of Anjou, who had been made commander-in-chief of the Catholic forces,[1193] seeing the Protestant army considerably augmented and that they had crossed the Seine and controlled the passages over the Yonne and the Loire, sent most of his troops back to Paris, and scattered the rest along the banks of the Seine,[343] to guard the road between Troyes and Paris. The Catholic camp in Paris was established in the faubourg St. Marceau, where were lodged all the gendarmerie, both foot and horse, the artillery and the Swiss. But most of the cavalry was quartered in the villages, where the horses could get better grazing, to the detriment of the country round about, for the soldiers amused themselves by pillage, so that the better towns and châteaux were compelled to fortify themselves as though against the enemy.[1194] Strenuous efforts were made to provision Paris against a future siege, and to establish magazines of provisions and ammunition in the towns of the Ile-de-France and Champagne. To this end the government bought up grain in the early spring of 1568, paying 50 livres per muid, or 10 sous, 5 deniers, per bichet.[1195]

As the prince drew nearer to the city, the conduct of Paris became a matter of anxiety. Although bigotedly Catholic, the populace of the capital had no mind to experience another siege in the cause of religion, and the popular rage against the government, especially toward Catherine de Medici, became so intense that she dared not go abroad without being heavily guarded. The popular voice claimed that the queen mother nourished the quarrel and consumed the revenues of the King,[1196] a belief which the Guises cleverly fostered, if they were not the immediate authors of it.[1197]


“The money of the kingdom today is in the hands of a single class,” wrote the Venetian ambassador. “The clergy is ruined. Without counting the property of the church which has been mortgaged or sold with the authorization of the Pope, the church since 1561 has paid out 12,000,000 écus for the King. This would be immaterial, for it is but a seventh of its annual revenue, if the church had not suffered so much from the civil war. The nobles are at their wits’ ends and have not a sou on account of the war. The country folk have been so pillaged by the soldiery, whose license is frightful, that they are reduced to beggary. Only the bourgeoisie and the gens de robe longue still have money. It is difficult for the King to obtain money without force. In addition to these troubles with his subjects the King has lost all his credit with foreign merchants and cannot raise an écu outside the kingdom without giving collateral. But good may come out of this calamitous state, for the King and his subjects have come to such a dead stop that peace may result.”[1198]

Under these circumstances the crown earnestly renewed negotiations for peace. Even astrology was invoked by the superstitious Catherine and the signs of the zodiac were sagely said to point toward peace. For the queen, walking one day in her garden, discoursing of the peace, called unto her Messire Nonio, an Italian famed for his knowledge of astrology, of whom she asked what he found by the stars touching peace; to which he presently answered that the heavens did not promise it, nor was the earth yet ready to receive it; since the effect of the eclipse of the sun was then in its greatest force, and likewise the virtue of the conjunction of Saturn and Mars which was in Aries last year; but the wise man concluded with the oracular statement that the heavens did not constrain the inferior powers but only disposed them.[1199]

On February 28 the King sent the marshal Montmorency, Morvilliers, the bishop of Limoges, and D’Allny, one of his secretaries, to confer with representatives appointed by the prince of Condé, the cardinal Châtillon, the bishop of Valence, and Teligny[345] at Longjumeau. The prince made two notable conditions to the demands already outlined—that all the articles, agreements, and capitulations should be confirmed by all the Parlements of the realm, and that certain cautionary towns—he named Boulogne or La Rochelle[1200]—be given to the Protestants as guarantees of the just purposes of the government. These two demands are of interest because they became invariable demands of the Huguenots in the future and foreshadowed important terms in the edict of Bergerac (1576) and that of Nantes of 1598. Those of the King replied that to make such demands impugned the King’s honor, that the prince of Condé ought to trust the crown without requiring guaranties of assurance. As to the particular demands, Charles IX declared he did not think it meet to make the edict of 1563 perpetual[1201] and protested against the political and military organization of the Protestants, “insomuch as this liberty remaining, the King shall never be assured in his realm.” On March 4 the commissioners of the prince, tired of the parleying and vexed at the diversion the King tried to introduce by proposing a double alliance between the warring houses in the marriage of the duke of Guise with the prince’s eldest daughter, and of D’Andelot’s eldest son to the duke’s sister, demanded express answer regarding church edifices; better observance of the edict by the King’s officers; Huguenot schools, etc. To these Charles IX assented and the Huguenots waived the matter of confirmation by provincial Parlements and the surrender of certain cautionary places for the time being. It remained to settle the question of the reiters’ pay.[346] Five hundred thousand livres in the royal chest at Amboise were appropriated by the crown and the balance of the obligation was provided for by the cardinal of Bourbon and the dukes of Montmorency and Longueville, who went security for it.[1202]

As finally concluded on March 26 the terms of Longjumeau were in reality a confirmation of the edict of March, 1563, which was not enlarged as the prince of Condé had at first demanded, except that the edict in its new form also applied to Provence.[1203] The terms of Longjumeau were suppressed for a short time and the army not dismissed, however, because it was thought perilous to disarm until the reiters had taken their leave. These marauders,[347] who followed war as a trade and with whom faith and piety were not virtues, had not ceased their depredations during the course of the negotiations. The people “being everywhere environed both with their own or foreign enemies, dared not approach town or village, all being replenished with reiters or those who entreated them as ill, whereby they miserably died in the fields.”[1204]

The publication of the edict encountered bitter opposition throughout the country.[1205] At Toulouse the King’s messenger who brought the royal order for its registration by the Parlement was actually tried, condemned, and executed for the “offense,” so inflamed was the public mind.[1206] At Rouen a furious multitude assailed the magistrates and mobbed the dwellings of those of Huguenot inclination. The same thing happened at Bourges. At Orleans the soldiers murdered several at the gates of the city, with impunity. In Languedoc there were commotions and slaughters.[1207]

The strife in the south of France, in Provence, Languedoc, and Guyenne, had never entirely ceased since the inception of the first civil war. The King’s tour of the provinces had overawed the combatants to a certain extent and in Languedoc Damville, who had succeeded his father on April 28, 1563,[1208] managed to keep things with a pretty even hand, enforcing the edict of Amboise throughout his jurisdiction.[1209] But the hostility of Montluc, whose government of Guyenne adjoined Languedoc, toward Damville, was a serious bar to pacification, for Montluc not only sought to diminish Damville’s authority by complaining to the[348] King of him, but also secretly connived with the doings of ultra-Catholic partisans in Toulouse and elsewhere.[1210]

So intense was the hatred in the south of France between the Catholics and the Huguenots that there was scarce any intermission of hostilities at all after the peace of Longjumeau, especially in Provence. The duke of Joyeuse, who commanded the royal forces here, was a man after Montluc’s own heart. Early in 1568 he had passed up the Rhone for the purpose of aiding the counts of Tende and Suze. He had with him 2,000 foot and from five to six hundred horse, and easily overcame the little fortresses until he reached Pont St. Esprit in February. Failing to take this, the army was divided. Joyeuse crossed the Rhone at Avignon on March 7, took Loudun, Orsenne, and Tresques, then, retracing his steps, he again joined the count of Tende and renewed the siege of Pont St. Esprit. The Protestants under the command of Montbrun gave battle in the plains of Montfran near Aramon, and were badly defeated May 24, 1568. When peace was made Joyeuse returned to Avignon. Most of the towns of lower Languedoc were carefully garrisoned by him, but Montauban, Castres, and Montpellier resisted. Everywhere he exacted disarmament and the oath of fidelity.[1211]




The peace of Longjumeau, more than any treaty of the civil wars, was a tentative settlement, an armistice merely. It was chiefly compelled by the lack of funds of both parties and from its signature was more openly opposed and protested against than any other of the treaties. Suspense over the probability of a third and worse war prevailed from the beginning. For while many on each side returned to their homes, there were many others who had no place to which to retire, for whom vagabond life had attractions and who preferred war to peace and plundering to honest labor.[1212] Both sides were too suspicious and too fearful to lay down their arms. So many of the Huguenot captains kept their troops in the fields that the King wrote to no less than 212 places charging the governors thereof to scatter these bands. Many known to have been in arms hid them in secret places and were, in consequence, not permitted to return to their native places until such arms were given up. The Catholic resentment seems to have been strongest in Paris[1213] and Burgundy, though in the former the provost of the merchants made the singularly sane plea to the King to have an especial regard for justice lest its denial might stir the Protestants to new strife. In general, though, wherever the King’s garrisons were stationed there was trouble.

It was not long before the Guise opposition organized. Failing of their hold upon Charles IX, the Guises directed their efforts upon his brother, Henry, duke of Anjou, whose Catholic sentiments[1214][350] were less impeachable than those of Charles and who began to “show some tokens of an ambitious heart,” was a sworn Catholic, and showed great offense at his royal brother’s action in “very courteously” entertaining the cardinal Châtillon, the count Rochefoucauld, and Brocarde, the Protestant governor of Orleans.[1215] On the night of March 29 a secret conference was held at the Louvre of the leaders among the Guise party, in which it was proposed that a pacific attitude be pretended until the disarming of the prince of Condé’s forces and the withdrawal of the reiters had taken place, and then suddenly to seize Orleans, Soissons, Auxerre, and La Rochelle—the Huguenot strongholds—for which duty Lansac, Martigues, Chavigny, and Brissac were to be appointed, reinforce the garrison of Paris, and send the ferocious Montluc into Gascony to subjugate the strongest Protestant provinces, seize the sea-ports, and drive a Catholic wedge in between Poitou and the territories of the queen of Navarre, who already had taken the precaution to strengthen her defenses. By some means, perhaps through the marshal Cossé, who was a Politique at heart, the cardinal Châtillon learned of the plot the very next day, and straightway informed the marshal Montmorency, another moderate, of it. At the same time the plan was discovered from another source to the prince of Condé. When Charles IX was taxed with information of it, he swore that the whole thing was done without his knowledge, accused the cardinal of Lorraine of treasonable practice, and calling for pen and ink wrote to Condé promising “good and sincere” observation of all that had been agreed upon at Longjumeau.[1216]

It will be observed how completely this plan of the Guises for the subjugation of Guyenne and Gascony is in alignment with the views of Montluc which he had expressed to Philip II.[1217] Hitherto[351] the King of Spain had been sustaining two separate lines of secret correspondence, one with Montluc direct; the other with the cardinal of Lorraine through the duke of Alva. These two lines now are fused into a larger whole, at least so far as the Spanish king is concerned.[1218] Montluc is the military, the cardinal of Lorraine the diplomatic, agent of Philip’s purposes.

The development of the Holy League has now advanced another stage in its evolution. The old warrior had not discontinued his secret relations with Spain, in spite of his warm denial of the fact to the queen mother, who taxed him with it,[1219] but through Bardaxi still kept in communication with Philip II. We find him writing twice to the King in February 1567 and Philip responding in terms of encouragement in the following month.[1220] Guyenne was peculiarly vulnerable to such an attack as was now contemplated, and Montluc was certainly the best captain to execute it. The army of the Huguenots there was in a bad state.[1221]

The instrument was already forged to Philip II’s hand in the local Catholic leagues in France. His interest in these was one of the silent activities at Bayonne. The instructions to the duke of Alva and to Bardaxi were almost identical. “As the queen mother lacks either fixity of ideas or honesty of purpose”—the words are those of the procès-verbal framed in the Spanish council-chamber, it is necessary to encourage the practices of Montluc and the Catholics.[1222] It must have been a source of delight to the Spanish king to observe the rapid increase of these associations. There are two changes to be noticed in these provincial leagues: their increasingly popular character, and their tendency to fuse together. Hitherto they had been local in their operations. Now a process of federation is to be observed by which the provincial leagues are gradually welded into one whole—in a word the mighty Sainte[352] Ligue of 1576 potentially exists now.[1223] The federative tendency of these associations was a natural result of their increase in number and membership. It was not a haphazard development at all. Design is evident throughout.[1224]

The renewal of civil war in 1567 had given a great impulse to this spirit of association.[1225] Nowhere was it more pronounced than in Burgundy. Tavannes, who was governor of Burgundy, in the year 1567 (July 18), formed a league under the name of the Confrérie du St. Esprit. Churchmen, the nobility of Burgundy, and wealthy bourgeois who wished to preserve the Catholic religion were united together in the service of the King. The version of its origin in the Mémoires de Tavannes is so interesting that I venture to quote it:

Seeing so much discontent and so many threatening enterprises among the Huguenots, the queen, for safety’s sake, in the beginning of the year 1567 caused a levy of 9,000 Swiss [the actual number was 6,000] to be made under pretext that they were to be for the service of the duke of Alva in the Flemish War. The prevailing unrest and the rumors of insurrection gave the sieur de Tavannes, who penetrated the designs of the queen and the purpose of the Huguenots, the thought that a prudent man might also take precautions of his own. He reasoned that the Huguenots did not have more zeal for their cause than the Catholics for the old religion, and that those who would preserve it would give their lives and employ their last sou to succor the King; in a word, oppose league to league. He therefore organized the Confrérie du St. Esprit, which in reality was a league of the ecclesiastics and the nobility of Burgundy, with rich men from the towns, who voluntarily swore to serve in the[353] interest of the Catholic religion against the Huguenots, sacrificing both person and property for the sake of the King. Without using coercion he gave orders for the enrolment of men-at-arms and the collection of money, created warders, spies, and messengers, in imitation of the Huguenots, in order to discover their machinations. The oath subscribed to justified this design. Each parish of Dijon paid its men for three months, and each town contributed 200 horse and 250 footmen. Burgundy could furnish 1,500 horse and 400 men on foot, paid for three months of the year. The sieur de Tavannes summoned an assembly in the Maison du Roi, ... and there caused the oath to be read.

The oath began:

We swear by the most holy and incomprehensible name of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name we have been baptized, and we promise on our honor and the peril of our lives that, henceforth, at all times, through the chiefs and those who shall be named by the King under these articles, we will make known any enterprise that may work contrary to our said law and faith of which we have made profession in our baptism, and which we have maintained by the grace of God to the present, and also to make known every enterprise, which may clothe itself in hatred of the maintenance of the said faith, against the said royal Majesty, madame his mother, and messieurs his brothers, who rule over us by divine permission.

And further on in the oath:

We swear and promise in the present writing to render all friendship and fraternity the one to the other, to aid each other reciprocally against all phases of the opposite party, if they shall undertake any enterprise against any one of the signatories to the cause of this party; and for the sake of said aid we promise respectively, the one and the other, to employ all our persons, our credit, and our favors without sparing anything. And we promise to observe all the articles above sworn to without regard to friends, parents, or any relationship which we may have with those who undertake the contrary.[1226]

In the following year, on April 2, 1568, “La Fraternité des Catholiques de Châlons-sur-Saône” emerged.

A l’imitation de la majesté du Roy nostre sire [so runs the instrument], et soubs sa protection et bon plaisir ... nous avons faict entre nous et pour tous autres Catholiques qui adjoindre se vouldront une fraternité qui s’appellera Confrairie et Société des Catholiques.


And it is added—sign of omen—

Et au cas qu’il advint que Dieu ne veuille que les persones de sa majesté et de messieurs ses frères ... fussent oppressés de sorte que ne sceussions avoir advertissement de leurs volontez, promettons rendre toute obeissance au général chef qui sera esleu.[1227]

Six weeks later, on May 18, 1568, through the activity of Tavannes, a similar association was formed in Berry and was confirmed at Bourges by the archbishop, Jacques le Roy.[1228] A month later La Ligue Chrétienne et Royale, “for the defense of the Catholic church in France and for maintaining the royal authority in the House of Valois,” to which was appended the significant proviso, “so long as it shall govern in the Catholic and Apostolic religion” appeared in Champagne under the auspices of Henry of Guise, then eighteen years of age and governor of the province. The nobility, the bishop, and the clergy, in a meeting at Troyes, concluded, signed, and took an oath to this league on June 25.[1229] Exactly a month later, on July 25, the Beauvaisis followed the lead of Burgundy, Berry, and Champagne, and formed an “Association Catholique” for the same purpose.[1230] The movement also spread west of the Seine, into Maine and Anjou, where the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate, on July 11, 1568, established an association whose members swore “de vivre et mourir en la religion catholique et de nous secourir les uns et les autres contre les rebelles et hérétiques sectaires de la nouvelle religion.” Forty persons signed the oath.[1231]

In Toulouse, the former league was revived in September, 1568, with new energy under the patronage of the cardinal of Armagnac and actual leadership of a secular priest who preached[355] war upon the Protestants with a crusader’s zeal. On September 12 the latter gathered those desirous of reviving the association in the cathedral of St. Etienne where a solemn oath was taken by all, who promised to devote life and property to the support of the catholic religion. The league thus formed was officially entitled La Croisade, with the motto: “Eamus nos, moriamur cum Christo.” All its members wore a white cross.[1232] Even some of the smaller towns followed the example of the provinces and large cities. At Anduze in Lower Languedoc at this same time the churches formed a Catholic union.[1233] The movement actually spread into Lower Navarre where in the same month, September, the sieur de Luxe and some others, at the instigation of the cardinal of Lorraine, perhaps, formed a league at St. Palais for the purpose of driving out the Calvinist preachers in St. Palais. They seized La Rive, the pastor at St. Palais, Tarde, pastor at Ostabanès, both of whom were imprisoned in the house of De Luxe. But the prompt conduct of Jeanne d’Albret and the prince of Navarre, who won his spurs in the siege of Garris, speedily crushed this association.[1234]

In view of this spontaneous organization of the Catholics everywhere, it was inevitable that the peace of Longjumeau would be of short duration, even if there had been no special circumstances to bring it to an end.[1235] The Guises, after the discovery of their[356] secret conference of March 29, for the time being sought to dissemble their feelings and purposes, and not to offend the King’s anger. When it was observed in the royal presence that great inconvenience was likely to arise in France for want of obedience to the edict, the cardinal of Lorraine, hearing the remark, replied “Sur ma conscience, il n’y a rien plus necessaire.”

The feud between the Guises and Montmorencys seemed likely to involve the state in war before very long.[1236] The quarrel between the two houses was the more intense at this time owing to the fact that the duke of Anjou’s retention of the lieutenantship, in which office the Guises supported and maintained him for their own purposes, gave offense to the marshals, Montmorency, Damville, and Vieilleville; the more so because they were all moderate Catholics and were dissatisfied with the duke’s bigoted Catholic leanings and affiliation with the Guises; they argued that “it had not been seen heretofore, that the King should have a lieutenant,” that the continuance of such a title, especially in time of peace, was a prejudice to their station,[1237] adding significantly[357] that they “being marshals knew what appertained to their charges.” The strife between the factions soon became so severe as to dismay some, especially the cardinal of Bourbon, who threatened “that in case the King would take no better order than he had done, he would depart the court and give the world to understand how he had at heart the honour of his house and the welfare of his friends.” The chancellor L’Hôpital, having vainly endeavored to soften the strife, asked leave to be discharged of his office—an event which the cardinal of Lorraine would have hailed with delight. As it was, the Guises used Anjou to abuse the position of the chancellor.[1238]

The continued presence of the reiters and the Swiss also added to the anxiety of those who were peaceably inclined, for “there was not a town or a village in the Ile-de-France that was not furnished with soldiers,” the country indeed teeming so much with them that traveling now was more perilous even than during the wars.[1239] The 6,000 Swiss still remained within four leagues of Paris at the last of May. The reiters of the prince stopped in Burgundy and plundered the country; while the prince of Condé vainly demanded that they be paid at once.[1240] At Dijon five of them were slain by the desperate populace and a massacre of thirteen of the inhabitants followed.[1241] Many thought that the war would be renewed the moment the harvest was gathered.[1242]

Late in May the duke of Montmorency left Paris for Chantilly, while his brother Damville stayed in the capital. The action of[358] each was significant. At Chantilly the cardinal Châtillon and other Protestant nobles deliberated, while in Paris Damville’s house was frequented by those hostile to the cardinal of Lorraine’s authority, notably the four marshals, all of whom inveighed against him and were popularly believed to be forming a new opposition to him.[1243] The Huguenot leaders, Condé, Coligny, D’Andelot, all lay in various castles throughout the Ile-de-France, with captains, soldiers, and gentlemen around them, and so distributed that no river separated them one from the other, while one ford between Paris and Rouen was kept open to enable those of the religion in Picardy to keep in touch with the prince.[1244] So skilfully was the distribution made that the leaders could have been able to unite within a day and a half if necessary.[1245]

The strain upon Charles IX soon began to tell. He was heard to say that he would rather lose his crown outright than live in continual fear, and as the feud became intenser, the King yielded and finally showed his hand by displacing the marshal Montmorency as governor of Paris, though he dared not go quite so far as to put Henri d’Anjou in his room, but chose his youngest brother, the duke of Alençon.[1246]

We discover at this time the germ of the Politique party.[1247] If the Guises had been aware of the astonishing diplomatic stroke Montmorency had conceived in his retreat at Chantilly and[359] which he had communicated to the Huguenot leaders, they might not have pressed the case of Anjou so insistently. This scheme was to separate the King’s brother from his attachment to the Guises and at the same time enlist English aid in support of religious toleration in France—the aim of the Politique party—by nothing less than bringing about the marriage of the Valois prince with Queen Elizabeth. At the same time Montmorency, by gaining the favor of the duke, would work the cardinal out of power. To this end the duke approached the English envoy in France.[1248]

Day by day the animosity of the parties grew. In a certain sense the peril of the times was greater than during a state of war. Daily murder by dagger and by drowning, and violation of property took place throughout France, to such an extent that it was said more had been murdered since the publication of the peace than were in the war which it was supposed to have concluded.[1249] But although the animosity of the parties was strong enough to incite them to war, the renewal of hostilities was yet very dependent upon the fluctuation of events in the Netherlands,[1250][360] and at this moment the balance there was inclined in Spain’s favor.[1251]

William of Orange, while not in alliance with the French, nevertheless sought to avail himself of the services of the 4,000 reiters which John Casimir had raised for the French Protestants, whose use was no longer required by the Huguenots after the peace of Longjumeau. A horror of Spanish cruelty was beginning to pervade Germany and brought him sympathy and support.[1252] Calvinist Europe built high hopes upon this assistance for the Dutch.[1253] But Orange was straitened for money[1254] and it was not until the middle of August that he was ready to return to give Alva battle with an army of 6,000 horsemen and four regiments of foot, besides the Lorrainers and Gascons who were all gunners. According to the plan of the prince, three armies were to enter the Netherlands at once, the French under a Huguenot leader named Cocqueville, through Artois; the Count of Hoogstraeten between the Rhine and the Meuse, and Louis of Nassau through Groningen.

But the whole plan failed. Cocqueville raised seven or eight hundred men with the intention of provoking Artois to revolt.[1255] Failing to take Doulens by surprise, Cocqueville pillaged the abbey-town of Dammartin. The duke of Alva energetically protested to Charles IX against this violation of the Spanish provinces by French subjects, and the marshal Cossé was sent into Picardy. The foreigners in Cocqueville’s band were summarily beheaded at St. Valéry, the leader himself was sent to Abbeville for trial for treason and executed, and the whole expedition came to naught.[1256] The enforced delay of the prince of Orange, united[361] with this repulse, was fatal to the Netherland project. On July 21, 1568, Louis of Nassau was defeated at Jemmingen by Alva, Spanish tyranny was fixed more firmly in the Low Countries, and Egmont and Hoorne were shortly afterward sent to the scaffold.[1257]

Everything was now out of joint. The success of the Dutch would have emboldened their French coreligionists to renew the struggle with some hope of success.[1258] But the Catholic victory in the Low Countries hardened the resolution of the French government. Hitherto chiefly the lesser nobility of France had been successfully coerced by the French crown. Now the cardinal of Lorraine intended to do the like with the higher nobles, compelling them either to abandon their religious and political contentions or to take up arms.[1259] At the same time military preparations began to be made which could not but be viewed with alarm by the Huguenots. The crown was stronger in cavalry, in infantry, in artillery, and in munitions. The country as a whole was with the King, and the chief cities were in his hands. “The great cities,” said Coligny mournfully, “are the tombs of our armies.”[1260]

So carefully were the preparations made that the King remained armed while the Huguenots were scattered and unarmed,[1261] saving[362] large numbers of individual nobles who yet stood upon their guard. In northern and central France, La Rochelle excepted, the government controlled all the towns. In Provence and Languedoc, however, many of the towns were governed by the Protestants.[1262] In order to prevent the communication of intelligence between the various parts of France under Protestant control, Charles IX even had refused to permit Condé to levy money upon the Huguenots for payment of the reiters, notwithstanding the governments’ own poverty, although the prince cunningly suggested such an action.[1263] The outlook was dark indeed. The Huguenots nowhere save in the south seemed strong enough to take the field, and it seemed hopeless for them to expect to join with their coreligionists of the north owing to the vigilance of Montluc in Languedoc and Tavannes in Burgundy and to the fact that the whole course of the Loire was patrolled by forces of the government. Moreover, the general contribution being stopped, both resources and communication were at an end; the gentry too were impoverished by the late war to a very great extent, having “consumed as much in eight months as they had gathered in four years before,”[1264] so that the wisest of the Huguenot leaders were of the opinion that the religion was not in a state to attempt anything by open arms.

While he tried to augment his forces Condé sought to remedy matters by appeal to the King,[1265] complaining of the outrages inflicted on the Huguenots[1266] (Montluc had even hanged seven gentlemen of the entourage of the queen of Navarre, in Languedoc), being careful not to impute these wrongs, however, to the King, but reprobating the malignancy of the cardinal of Lorraine and accusing him of secret intelligence with Spain.[1267] The cardinal,[363] thus assailed, parried through the King, who two days later issued a proclamation, which after reciting the complaints of murder, robberies and other wrongs alleged by those of “the pretended Reformed religion,” declared that the King, having sent his maîtres des requêtes into the provinces where these acts of violence had been perpetrated, was satisfied of the substantial justice of the administration, and asserted that the complaints had either been manufactured by the Huguenot leaders, or else grossly exaggerated. The proclamation closed by commanding all judges and other officers, on pain of deprivation, to search out and punish wrong-doers, so that those of the religion might not have ground for complaining that justice was not done them.[1268]

Such a proclamation was mere verbiage, however, and was intended to lull the anxiety of the Huguenots while the government’s preparations went forward. It deceived none of the Protestant leaders. The signs of the times were too plain to be concealed. Arms were secretly levied and stored in La Rochelle, Saintes, Châtellerault, St. Jean-d’Angély.[1269] To these signs was now added another unmistakable indication. In August, 1568 the concentration of fourteen companies of gendarmes and several bands of infantry in Burgundy, where the two most conspicuous of the leaders of the Huguenots then were—the prince of Condé and Coligny[1270]—ostensibly to prevent the prince from delivering his German reiters to the prince of Orange, precipitated civil war anew.

Protestant historians have contended that the government of Charles IX was wholly to blame for the renewal of war. But[364] it may be fairly said that Charles IX acted not only according to his right, but according to policy in seeking to prevent the union of the Huguenot and Dutch interests. France was not yet prepared to espouse an open anti-Spanish policy, though she was already secretly so inclining,[1271] and the projected alliance of the prince of Condé and the prince of Orange[1272] would have been certain seriously to compromise her with Spain. Finally, it may be added, that there was not a little of self-ambition in Condé’s action.[1273]

This attempted co-operation of the prince of Condé and the prince of Orange drew the French government into close association with the duke of Alva. But the diplomatic relations now established between the courts of Paris and Madrid were of much greater importance and the negotiations were energetically forwarded by the cardinal of Lorraine, who on November 21, sent the cardinal of Guise into Spain charged to treat of marriage between Philip II and Marguerite of Valois,[1274] or if that proved unacceptable, to suggest Philip’s marriage with one of the daughters of the Emperor, while Charles IX was to marry the other. At the same time Alva proposed that the duke of Anjou—the future Henry III—should marry the queen of Portugal.[1275] The far-reaching effect of such a series of alliances is manifest. The two houses of Hapsburg would become dynastically united again in a common family and politico-religious purpose, into which association France would be woven.

The government had secretly prepared for the sudden investment[365] of La Rochelle, intending to “spring” the war suddenly at that point, but had been compelled to alter the plan. This change of plan induced the resolution to attempt to capture the prince and Coligny,[1276] the purpose of the Guises (with whom the King and his mother were not acting) probably being to send them to the scaffold, as Alva had done with Egmont and Hoorne.

But the deception and duplicity which they used to allay the suspicions of the prince and the admiral offended the bluff, soldierly honor of Tavannes, who, though a bigoted Catholic, would not stoop to such a dishonorable course of action.[1277] While feigning to obey the orders to capture the two leaders, he contrived to apprise them of their danger by managing so as to have his letters intercepted by them.[1278] Thanks to this timely warning, escape was made possible. On August 23, 1568 Condé and Coligny, accompanied by the members of their families and D’Andelot’s—the princess of Condé being pregnant—crossed the Loire in sudden flight, guarded on the road by a hundred horsemen. The fugitives were bound for La Rochelle, which was safely reached without mishap, though not without peril.

From the safe retreat of this famous port and stronghold the prince of Condé issued a manifesto protesting that he and his followers intended nothing prejudicial to the King, but only to protect those of the religion from the tyranny and oppression of their enemies. A form of oath was adopted, to be taken by the nobility, officers, and others of the prince’s army, regulations were issued for the maintenance of discipline in the army, for the prevention of desertion, private plundering, and avoidance of excess of baggage, camp-followers, disorders, and quarrels.[1279]


The government at once took up the gage of battle and prepared to push the war. On September 25, 1568, an edict proscribed the Reformed faith, exiled the pastors thereof, and excluded Protestants from public offices and from the universities.[1280] As far back as July the government had begun negotiations with the Pope to secure license to alienate from the lands of the church 200,000 crowns per annum. This had failed when first petitioned,[1281] but the cardinal of Lorraine by the end of August had managed to raise 1,200,000 francs, although half of it had to go to pay old debts to the Parisians.[1282] The holy father, having at last been persuaded of the good of the cause, consented to the alienation of 100,000 crowns annual rent of the clerical lands, upon condition that the money be strictly employed for the compulsion of those who denied the authority of Rome and the revocation of the Edict of Toleration.[1283] The debate upon the measure pertaining to the church lands brought about a clash in the King’s Privy Council between the cardinal of Lorraine and the chancellor L’Hôpital, on September 19. The latter protested against the withdrawal of the Edict of Toleration, on the ground that it would induce the war at once[367] and lead to the overrunning of the country again by the reiters, and refused to affix the royal seal to the proposed ordinance, without which the papal writing was of no force in France. The cardinal retaliated by taunting the chancellor with being a hypocrite and asserted that his wife and daughter were Calvinists. L’Hôpital retorted by sarcastically alluding to the notorious administrative practices of the Guises, at which the cardinal became so angry that he would have seized the venerable chancellor by his great white beard if the marshal Montmorency had not stepped between them. In his rage the cardinal, turning to the queen mother, declared the chancellor’s vicious policy of toleration was at the bottom of the evils of France and that if he were in the hands of the Parlement of Paris his head would not tarry on his shoulders twenty-four hours longer.[1284] The issue of this episode was not long in forthcoming. On September 28 Michel de l’Hôpital was dismissed from office[1285] and the seal given to the archbishop of Sens, Biragues, a pupil of the Guises and a henchman of Philip of Spain.[1286] It was he who rescinded the Edict of January and the other two edicts of pacification and exiled all Huguenot preachers from France within twenty days, forbade all exercise of the Reformed religion on pain of death, and dismissed from office and the universities all those who were Protestants.

The new civil war was represented as a war of religion; indeed as a crusade, the King going to evensong at La Sainte-Chapelle, on Michaelmas Eve, where the heart of St. Louis was interred, and on the morrow marching in procession with the relics of St. Denis, as did the former kings of France before they took the road of the cross. The duke of Anjou, the King’s brother, was appointed lieutenant-general of the realm on September 1, and proclamation made to the companies of gendarmerie and the bands of archers, to assemble at Orleans, now become the Catholic headquarters.[1287]


Charles IX, in October, went in person to Orleans, in order by his presence, to enlarge the enlistments, and also to overcome the suspicion that the whole movement was made at the instigation of the Guises. The government of Paris was left to the King’s youngest brother, the duke of Alençon, assisted by the duke of Montmorency. In the meantime the prince of Condé had remained in the vicinity of La Rochelle during September, while his army was gathering.[1288] When the army was massed, he moved up the Loire with his forces.

The emulation that had characterized the Huguenot nobility in the last war now served Condé well. The provinces were alive with activity during this autumn. The young prince of Navarre, the future Henry IV, was to win eminence in the coming struggle, and at this time was at Bergerac where forces were assembled to assist Condé.[1289] The Catholic and governmental forces were no less alert. The King’s captains were employed in all parts of the realm to levy men. Montluc, discovering a plot in Bordeaux to deliver the town to those of the Reformed religion, executed the greater part of those so accused. At Toulouse, Auxerre, and Lyons all men were constrained to go to mass. In Provence and Languedoc the peasantry even rose against the Protestants. To crown all both sides levied reiters in Germany.[1290]


The lower course of the Loire was the fighting-line, for command of which both sides aimed.[1291] The tactics of Anjou were to avoid an engagement, if possible, and to prevent Condé’s forces from crossing, which he succeeded in doing through a stratagem.[1292] The passage of the Loire being stopped, and the river towns being all garrisoned, especially Saumur, the prince of Condé, after taking the castle of Champigny which belonged to the duke de Montpensier, fell back on Loudun. The country was so wet that neither horse nor foot could do much. The prince excelled in cavalry, the Catholic army in infantry.[1293] In the provinces the Catholic preponderance was marked. The duke of Aumale in Champagne had 18 companies of men-at-arms and 25 ensigns of footmen, awaiting the coming of the reiters; Marshal Cossé was in Picardy with 15 companies of men-at-arms and 2,000 footmen. The reason for the presence of so many troops so far from the actual seat of the war is to be found in the fact that the movements of the prince of Orange, who had entered France in December,[1294] gave great anxiety to the government. The prince was now on[370] the borders of Picardy, but his horsemen rode as far as Compiègne and Rheims, to the amazement of the court and the consternation of the Guises, who dispatched the cardinal of Guise to Madrid for the help of Philip II.[1295] If the two princes could have effected a junction in the meantime, Paris would have been between hammer and anvil. As it was, the danger was so great that the King hastily began to raise an additional army in December, calling out ban and arrière-ban, and in order that the capital might be able to withstand a siege, if worst came to worst, drew all the provisions of the country roundabout Paris for a space of ten miles into the city.

The position of the various armies was an interesting one. In east France the reiters of the duke of Deuxponts were endeavoring to join Orange who delayed his movement to await their coming,[1296] while Alva dogged his steps.[1297] In the west Condé was vainly striving to cross the Loire in order to join Orange and the Protestant reiters, while the duke of Anjou was straining every nerve to keep him back. In the midst of all, Paris lay calm but tense[1298]—the undisturbed center of the cyclone of war. Both armies suffered[371] from the terrible weather of December. The soldiers of each side were dying of famine and privation.[1299]

The hope long deferred that Condé had cherished of Orange joining him made him heartsick at last; the latter could not come, for Alva, the duke of Aumale, and the Catholic reiters under a German colonel named Schomberg—a name destined to become illustrious—were too closely watching his movements.[1300] Even had these impediments been removed, the Seine and the Loire would have had to be crossed—an impossible feat.

The winter of 1568-69 was occupied with Huguenot and Catholic negotiations for foreign support and with preparations for a renewal of the war when the spring came. Meanwhile the delay of France to pay its debts in Switzerland had gradually provoked a change of public sentiment in the forest cantons, which pushed them a few years later into espousal of Spain. The loss of its ascendency in Switzerland was a particularly hard blow to France. For the policy of Spain had been to rouse a religious war in the Alpine lands, so that her intervention would find easy entrance. The five cantons of the center were the fulcrum of Spain’s diplomatic efforts. Day by day the tension became greater, the five cantons inclining more to Spain, their neighbors leaning to France, while between the two groups Bern and Zurich continued neutral, refusing to aid the prince of Condé with either men or money.[1301]


Military events were insignificant. Anjou remained with his army in Limousin, and the prince of Condé in Périgord. On December 23, 1568, there was a skirmish near Loudun. In January Condé marched to the relief of Sancerre. The town was of very strong situation and Brocbart, the Huguenot commandant, filled a great number of wine-vats with sand and earth and used them for gabions, and so managed to hold out against five assaults,[1302] although the place was so invested by the Catholic army that the prince could do nothing to relieve it. Failing this, he marched upon Saumur in the vain hope of forcing a crossing of the Loire at some point, on the way putting the garrison of 150 men in the abbey of St. Florens at Pont-de-Cé to the sword. Both armies suffered terribly from the weather and the condition of the country.[1303]

In the King’s council the Politique party still labored for peace, and in the interim made an unsuccessful effort to restore the Edict of Toleration.[1304] The cessation of hostilities, however, was complete enough to alarm the Pope, who feared another truce would be made and used exhortation and promise in order to prevent any compromise with heresy.[1305]

The Dutch and English were attentive observers of the movement in France, the former especially, for they felt that they and the French Protestants were engaged in a common cause. From England came numbers of English gentlemen to La Rochelle, in order to follow Condé in the war, and the Channel and the Bay of[373] Biscay were thronged with English and Dutch privateers.[1306] Elizabeth, as the saying went, wanted “to throw the stone and hide the arm.” Although the English ambassador, Sir Henry Norris, protested the innocence of his government and the queen wrote with her own hand that she would not interfere in France, Englishmen were landed at La Rochelle and in Brittany and English vessels brought over gunpowder, shoes, and arms.[1307]

While Anjou held the line of the Loire, the French government established its military base at Château-Thierry on the Marne in order to prevent communication between the Protestant German princes, especially the elector palatine and the duke of Deuxponts; or between the Dutch and its own revolted subjects. To this end it was planned that the duke of Aumale, with a force of reiters sent by the margrave of Baden and the count of Westelburg, and some troops proferred by Count Mansfeldt[1308] should be sent against the prince of Orange, while the duke of Anjou was to go against the prince of Condé.[1309] But William of Orange effected a junction[374] with the duke of Deuxponts[1310] in spite of D’Aumale’s effort to prevent him.[1311]

The attitude of the Lutheran princes had now become more definite in favor of the Huguenots.[1312]

The international Protestant plan was to drive its blows in on either side of Lorraine and thus sever the chain through central Europe by which Philip II held his dominions together, and to separate the two houses of Hapsburg.[1313] The conduct of the Emperor furthered this project, for when Charles IX sent La Forrest to the Emperor to protest against the action of the Lutheran princes of Germany and to continue the talk of his marriage with the Emperor’s daughter, Ferdinand, while expressing his regret at the troubled state of France, received the marriage proposition coldly[375] and complained of the damage done by the French army under the duke of Aumale within the limits of the empire,[1314] and recommended that Charles try peaceful methods instead of force for the pacification of his kingdom.[1315] Parallel with the project to co-operate with the prince of Orange and the duke of Deuxponts, Coligny planned a revival of Huguenot activity in the south of France so that this diversion would weaken resistance to the other. The aim was, with the aid of the “viscounts” to break a way across the upper Loire, and so open the road to German assistance.[1316]

The combined array against D’Aumale was too great for him to make head.[1317] Nor was the adverse double military situation the sole anxiety of the French government. Montmorency and the duke of Bouillon were so disaffected that there was even expectation of their openly joining the Huguenots. The cost of the two armies amounted to 900,000 livres a month, besides the gendarmerie and artillery, which was about two million each quarter.[1318] There was owing to the gendarmerie 12,000,000 of livres for six quarters; to the 6,000 Swiss with the duke of Anjou 300,000 livres; to those with the duke of Aumale 100,000 livres besides what was owing to the French infantry. Both of the King’s commanders were so short of funds that they were forced to seize church-plate and even reliquaries.[1319]

In these extremities Charles IX viewed the renewal of war on the opening of spring with alarm and began to think of making peace for a term, with no intention of keeping it, but merely in order to avoid a catastrophe and with the hope that some of the Huguenots might be disarmed in the interim. But suddenly the[376] cloud was lifted. The royal army under the nominal command of the duke of Anjou, but really commanded by the veteran Tavannes, who had orders to give battle at all cost before the duke of Deuxponts could arrive, won the decisive victory of Jarnac on March 13, 1569. It was a fierce and bloody battle.

The prince of Condé, after having been dangerously wounded and taken prisoner, suffered a foul death at the hands of some unknown assassin in the royal army, who shot him with a pistol-ball.[1320] In the engagement the Scotchman, Stuart, who had killed the constable at St. Denis, was taken and brought to the duke, who said to him: “So here you are, you traitor, you who have frequently boasted that you wished to kill the queen, my mother. Now you shall receive your deserts.” At that moment the marquis de Villars, the old constable’s brother-in-law, appeared, and with his own hands executed vengeance.[1321]


In Paris when news of the battle of Jarnac was brought a grand procession was authorized by the clergy and the Parlement. All the stores and shops were closed as though it were a holiday. The clergy, bearing the relics of the saints, marched first to the convent of the Cordeliers, and then to that of the Jacobins, where a fiery sermon was preached by a Jacobin of Auxerre named Mammerot. After the sermon the Te Deum was celebrated, and then the militia of the city assembled under the command of the four captains, and a grand review was held in the streets. The celebration ended by a great bonfire in front of the Hotel-de-Ville, and the firing of cannon.[1322]

The Pope took the victory of Jarnac as a direct answer to prayer.[1323]




By the death of Condé the Admiral Coligny became the actual leader of the Protestant cause in France,[1324] the more so when his brother d’Andelot died on May 7,[1325] although the young prince of Condé and his cousin, Henry of Navarre, were theoretically so regarded.[1326] In the nature of things, the leadership of two boys—the former was seventeen, the other sixteen years of age—could only be a nominal one.

After the first shock of dismay at the prince’s death had passed, the Huguenots were not dispirited. It is true that numbers of the Protestant gentry returned home.[1327] But the Huguenot position was strong in upper and lower Poitou, for the line of the Charente from Angoulême to Saintes was theirs, besides St. Jean-d’Angély, La Rochelle, and the islands of Marins and Oléron.[1328] The admiral rallied his forces at Tonnay-Charente,[1329] which he could do with impunity since the duke of Anjou raised the siege of Angoulême on April 12.[1330]

The hope of the court was to prolong the war, since the King controlled most of the towns and the river passages, “while the religion, their conquered country excepted, had but the fields,”[1331] until the resources of the Huguenots would at last become exhausted—money, men, munitions. But the queen of England loaned 20,000 livres to the Protestants, the jewels of Condé and[379] Jeanne d’Albret being taken as security.[1332] Jeanne d’Albret in person directed the foreign negotiations of the Huguenots.[1333] The anxiety of the Huguenots was greatest over the effect which Condé’s death might have upon the foreign assistance which they were looking for, and letters from the prince of Navarre and the other leaders of the Huguenot army in Saintonge earnestly urged the reiters’ advance to the Loire.[1334] Coligny’s hope was by making a detour by way of Cognac and Chalais to reach the Loire and effect a junction with Deuxponts. To his great relief, the prince of Orange and the duke of Deuxponts wrote assuring the admiral of their continued adherence.[1335] As good as his word, Deuxponts, who was at Pont-à-Mousson on January 11, 1569, entered France near Langres, having passed by Joinville, the seat of the Guises in Lorraine, where the old duchess of Guise was then staying,[1336] and advanced upon Dijon where he arrived on April 26.[1337]

The real center of the government’s activity was Metz, which became the basis of operations against Deuxponts and Orange.[1338][380] Active efforts were made to repair the duke of Anjou’s losses and to strengthen his position.[1339] The offer of Spanish support which Alva had made was now formally accepted, for after the mission of Castelnau to the margrave of Baden to get relief, he was sent into Flanders to solicit the assistance of Alva, since it now had become the common interest of both crowns to crush the Protestants.[1340] The French commanders, the dukes of Nemours and Aumale, had received orders to prevent the approach of Deuxponts at all cost,[1341] but Aumale, partially on account of carelessness, partly because of misinformation, failed in his task, and by clever management Deuxponts at last succeeded in crossing the Saône above Bar into Auxerre and Berry, scaled the walls of Nevers, thereby shortening the road between him and the Huguenot army, and finally captured La Charité upon the Loire on May 20, after ten days of siege, and thus controlled the link which united Huguenots and reiters.[1342]


If the Huguenots had been dispirited after Jarnac, they had reason to feel elated after the capture of La Charité. Although the duke of Anjou kept the field in Saintonge, Angoumois, and Limousin, the army was so mutinous for want of pay, so depleted by desertion and disease, that it was far from formidable.[1343] Paris was in consternation after the capture of La Charité and anticipated seeing the high hats and great feathers of the reiters before long.[1344] The échevins of the city were ordered with all speed to make sale of the property of the Protestants to provide means for a new army, which had to be made up of peasant levies, “all their soldiers[382] and men of the greatest value being already abroad.”[1345] The queen mother, having received letters complaining of lack of funds and mutiny in his army, bitterly reproached Aumale for negligence and cowardice in letting the duke of Deuxponts capture La Charité, and hastily started for the army in Saintonge, in company with the cardinals of Lorraine and Bourbon, where she went right among the soldiers with words of encouragement.[1346]


(Tortorel and Perissin)

But mutiny of the army, and the capture of La Charité, with the prospective union of Coligny and the duke of Deuxponts, was not all that worried the queen and the cardinal. Casimir of the County Palatine was reported to be coming with 6,000 horse and as many foot; moreover, the Emperor was hostile.[1347] The extremity of the government was so great that compromise was necessary, and Catherine had in mind to patch matters up by offering her[383] daughter Marguerite of France in marriage to the young Henry of Navarre—a plan whose consummation three years later precipitated the massacre of St. Bartholomew.[1348] Marshal Damville, the second son of the old constable, whose Politique leanings already had made him conspicuous, was significantly appointed the King’s lieutenant in Languedoc. Toleration was in the air once more.

But all of a sudden the Catholic cause revived for an instant.[1349] Coligny fell ill, and the progress of the Huguenot army was thereby impeded. Worse still, the duke of Deuxponts was stricken with a burning fever, so that he died the very day of his arrival in La Marche.[1350] Strozzi with some Italian forces attacked Coligny at La Roche-L’Abeille on June 25, when the rain was pouring in such torrents that the matchlocks of the Italians were useless, so that the soldiers on both sides clubbed their weapons—in the expressive words of D’Aubigné, “rompre croce sur cap”—that is, broke the crosses of their arquebuses over the heads of their antagonists.[1351] In the conflict Strozzi was taken prisoner. From this time forth[384] the army of the King was simply a disorderly mass of men. Famine and fever so reduced it that the duke of Anjou was not able to defend himself, let alone invading the enemy’s territory. To increase his forces, he put arms in the hands of the peasantry of Limousin, with the result that a local jacquerie prevailed in the province. Lansac was repulsed in assaulting La Charité; Châtellerault (July 12) and Lusignan (July 20) were taken by the Huguenots.[1352] The Catholics failed before Niort, to whose relief the brilliant La Noue came after his own seizure of Luçon.[1353]

Under these circumstances the government was compelled to content itself with maintaining the line of the Loire save at La Charité, while it sought foreign succor.[1354] But the Swiss could not be expected until the middle of September, and Coligny sought[385] to profit by the situation to take Saumur and thus secure a crossing on the lower Loire also, and Poitiers, for which purpose he divided the Protestant army,[1355] to the intense alarm of the government, which tried, through the queen mother, to delay action by drawing the admiral into an empty parley. This is the moment when the marriage of Henry of Navarre with Marguerite of France was first broached. But the admiral and Jeanne d’Albret were not to be deceived, and the siege of Poitiers was resolutely continued. (It lasted from July 25 to September 7, 1569.) The Catholic party fully appreciated that the importance of the war depended upon the success or failure of the Huguenots before this city, into which the young duke of Guise, then but nineteen years of age, had thrown himself on July 12 with all the ardor of his father before Metz. If Coligny took the town, some notable prisoners of war would have fallen into his hands, the dukes of Guise and Mayenne and the abbess of La Trinité, a sister of the cardinal of Bourbon[1356][386] and the ill-starred prince of Condé, the ransom of whom would have abundantly provided for the reiters in the service of the Protestants.


(Tortorel and Perissin)

Poitiers was one of the most mediaeval towns in France. The remains of its towers and fortifications, its narrow bridges, the ruined palace of the ancient dukes of Aquitaine, everything recalled the life of a vanished past.[1357] The admiral’s guns soon made two breaches in the wall, but the fire from the castle and platform drove his men back and the breaches were repaired. The town, however, was too large in circuit for Guise to defend the whole,[1358] since many vineyards and fields were within its walls, in consequence of which the French had made a line of double trenches within the town. On August 19 the Huguenots made a furious assault, broke through the wall, and drove the Guisard forces back of the inside trenches. The enemy was “so straitly pent” that for sixteen days the soldiers had to live upon horse-flesh. The most remarkable incident of the siege was the driving-out of a great number of people, old men and women and children, who were unable to fight and could not be fed on account of the lack of provisions. So reluctant were they to go that they had to be whipped through the gates. Fortunately the duke of Guise took pity upon them at last, although in the city bread was so scarce that the food of one had to suffice for ten. All the horses and asses in the town were slain, the gentry out of honor to their position sating their hunger on the former. Of wheat, barley, and other grain there was none, nor was there a green thing left growing in the city. Even rats and mice were consumed.[1359]



The strength of Coligny (he had about 10,000 footmen and 8,000 to 9,000 horse) made it impossible for Anjou to dislodge him by direct attack. His own strength, as appeared by a general muster on September 3, consisted of 1,500 French gendarmes, 700 Italian horse, 1,000 Walloons, and 4,000 reiters, besides La Vallette’s regiment of 400 horse—it was much reduced during the siege—and the duke of Longueville’s and some other companies. Of footmen he had 6,000 French, 4,000 Swiss, 2,500 Italians, and 2,000 Walloons. Although this army in actual numbers excelled that of Coligny, in reality it was considerably inferior. The troops were many of them without officers, the 6,000 French were drafted peasantry unused to the use of arms; all of them were suffering from hunger and many from fever. The duke of Anjou, therefore, with the approval of his mother, determined to try to draw off Coligny from before Poitiers by a feigned attack upon Châtellerault.[1360] For this purpose he crossed the river Creuse on September 4 and planted his artillery before the town. The honor of the first assault was given to the Italians, which offended the French, who refused to support them.[1361] Nevertheless a breach 40 feet wide was made in the wall, so that the admiral, judging the place to be in great danger, sent 7,000 horse and 8,000 foot to the city’s relief, September 7. It was fatal impatience on Coligny’s part, for the action relieved Poitiers from the danger of being taken.

There was now no other recourse for the Huguenots except to give battle. But Coligny was unwilling to do this at once, desiring to wait until the devastation of the country round about still further reduced Anjou’s forces. In the interval he withdrew across the Vienne. But the mercenaries in both armies clamored for battle, for there was great want of money on both sides, the King’s Swiss being unpaid for three months, the reiters five, the admiral’s also being behindhand for three months’ wages.[1362]


On September 30, at Moncontour, the two armies clashed in a preliminary engagement. But three days later on Monday, October 3, 1569, the real battle was joined. It must have been an impressive and thrilling sight before the conflict began. In the Huguenot army the preachers moved about encouraging the men, who sang the solemn psalms of the Calvinist worship with fervor. Across the plain, the Swiss and Germans in the royal host, after the German fashion, knelt and kissed the ground.[1363]


(Tortorel and Perissin)

At the first shock it seemed as if the Huguenots would win, and they cried in exaltation, “Victory, victory! The Evangel has won the victory and has vanquished the mass of the popes. Down with the Papists!”[1364] The admiral began the fray by charging Anjou’s center with 2,000 reiters and such French gendarmes as he had, but was himself attacked on the flank by the duke of Aumale and Villars so furiously that he was compelled to fall back.[389] The Protestant infantry which had followed the horse into the battle, was thus left unsustained, and when the duke of Guise’s light horse charged, the lansquenets broke in flight, abandoning the artillery. In the midst of the melée various companies of reiters, seeing the battle lost, ran to their baggage, seized their most valuable effects, and decamped in haste. Mansfeldt’s reiters alone fought well; the others were of slight service. Matters were little better with the hirelings of the King. Many of the leaders on both sides were injured in the course of the battle; Guise in the hand and foot, Bassompierre, a German captain destined to become a very prominent man at court, in both arms; Anjou was borne to the ground off his horse but escaped injury; Coligny was hurt in the face by a pistol-ball. Among the Catholic dead was Montbrun, captain of the Swiss guard. He was haughty and cruel, and a despot with his men, but it is to his credit that he sought to prevent the soldiery from abusing the peasantry.[1365] The most of the Huguenot dead were the German reiters and lansquenets, many of whom were killed by their Catholic compatriots or the Swiss, who distinguished themselves by their ferocity.[1366] The fight endured for four hours, from 11 until 3 o’clock, at the end of which time the forces of Anjou overthrew the admiral, routed both his horse and foot, and captured his artillery and baggage. But for the good fortune that some of Coligny’s horse intercepted a treasurer of the King coming out of Limousin with 30,000 francs, the distribution of which among his reiters quieted their murmurs, Coligny might have been all but deserted by the German horse.[1367] As it was, he was able to fall back on Niort and thence make his retreat to the far south.[1368]

Fortunately for the Huguenots, the enemy did not attempt pursuit of them, but instead undertook the siege of St. Jean-d’Angély, which lay directly in the way southward, to the disgust of the[390] liberal marshal Cossé and even Tavannes, who urged that the King, in the light of this great victory, might now make peace with good grace.[1369] Others, considering the strength of St. Jean-d’Angély thought that the war would be protracted into the depth of winter and that the capture of St. Jean-d’Angély would be of small importance while La Rochelle still remained. Instead of accepting the advice, the government hardened its policy. A reward of 50,000 crowns was offered for the head of Coligny,[1370] 600,000 francs were distributed among the soldiers and 300,000 sent into Germany to make a new levy against the spring.[1371]

On October 16 Charles IX arrived before St. Jean-d’Angély and beheld the greatest part of the royal troops ranged in order of battle. Anticipating a desperate resistance upon the part of those in the city, the King’s infantry requested to be equipped with the gendarmes’ cuirasses. One incident will illustrate the desperate valor of the besieged. On the night of October 21 they made a sortie, entered the enemy’s trenches, slew twenty men, took two ensigns prisoner, and all the arms they found in the corps de garde, and returned into the town. The Protestant garrison was not over 1,500 men, but in spite of the odds against him (he had no artillery except falconets and muskets, while Anjou had eleven guns, great and small), the Huguenot commander, Pilles, refused to surrender. Instead, when the governor of the town urged him to surrender rather than make resistance, the desperate captain had him hanged and his body cast into the river. The attack upon St. Jean-d’Angély opened on October 25, but[391] although the wall was badly battered, no sufficient breach was made for days. The town resisted every attack until December 2, when it at last surrendered.[1372]

Yet in spite of the double victory of Moncontour and at St. Jean-d’Angély, hard experience was proving the wisdom of the course advised by Tavannes and Cossé. The King was without money to pay the Swiss and the reiters who threatened to mutiny at any minute. The country round about the army was so denuded that there was great misery for want of food and multitudes of the soldiers fell sick.[1373] Finally, on November 24, in a sitting of the King’s council, Charles IX was formally petitioned by certain of its members to make peace overtures to his revolted subjects,[1374] and expressed his willingness to comply with the request.

The hand of the government was forced by events; the courageous resistance of St. Jean-d’Angély, Montluc’s action in resigning his commission, and the growing strength of the Reformed among the southern “viscounts,” made the crown think eagerly of peace. As an earnest of this purpose, the King sent the liberal marshal Cossé in company with De Losses, the new captain of the Scotch Guard, to La Rochelle to confer with the queen of Navarre and La Rochefoucault. But Jeanne d’Albret was not minded to use haste, to which the marshal meaningly rejoined that “there were many of rank in the Protestant army who would not give her that advice.”[1375] Yet even if she had wanted to, the queen of Navarre could not have hastened a settlement. For at this time there was a real division of opinion existing between the Huguenot nobles and the people of the Huguenot towns like St. Jean-d’Angély and La Rochelle. The former class were weary of war and wanted to return to their homes and were in favor of peace and inclined to make their own terms, even to the extent of ignoring the claims of their coreligionists[392] of the towns. The latter felt aggrieved at seeing themselves thus deserted, when they had done so much to maintain the general cause of the Huguenots, not merely in contributing money but by making such heroic resistance as that of the people of St. Jean-d’Angély, and Jeanne D’Albret sympathized with them. She would not listen to talk of peace, being firmly convinced that it was but another ruse, like that at Longjumeau, and resolutely declared that there would be time enough to consider terms of peace when their forces were more equal; that nothing short of the free exercise of the religion as granted by former edicts would avail; that even if all the Huguenot nobles consented to the terms, her own signature and that of Henry of Navarre would never be affixed to any half-way terms of pacification.[1376] But at last, after long debate, the queen of Navarre yielded, and sent the admiral’s future son-in-law, Teligny, who had conferred with Coligny, to the King to request “a good assured and inviolable peace,”[1377] probably being in part influenced by the treatment of St. Jean-d’Angély, whose garrison was suffered to march out, bag and baggage, with colors flying. The Huguenots demanded liberty of conscience, the restitution of their goods, estates, and offices to those of the religion, and the reversal of all sentences against them, together with guaranties for the observance of the articles.[1378]


The essential issue, and that which protracted the debate so long was the demand for chambres mi-parties,[1379] and that the crown give over certain cities into the hands of the Huguenots to be garrisoned and governed by them alone. On February 3, 1570, the King replied, promising to grant amnesty for the past, the restoration of their estates and offices to the Huguenots, the expulsion of the reiters, with liberty of the religion within private dwellings and in two towns which he would appoint.[1380] But Jeanne d’Albret, who conducted the negotiations for the Huguenots, refused to be satisfied. In a long letter to the queen mother a week later she recapitulated the former negotiations at great length and complained of the government’s want of good faith, especially alluding to the cardinal of Lorraine and the duke of Alva.[1381] As a matter of fact the government was not yet willing to give in. The cardinal of Lorraine still hoped to hasten forward a new levy of reiters in Germany when spring should open, and held out the vain hope of the restoration of the Three Bishoprics if the Emperor would lend France this assistance and stay the Protestant levies.[1382] But the Emperor himself had something to say about the matter and asserted that he would not consider the proposed marriage of his daughter with the French King until peace was concluded in France.[1383] Aware of the Emperor’s attitude, the queen of Navarre resolutely demanded terms of peace in conformity with the demands of the Huguenots.[1384]


The arguments of peace urged by the marshal Cossé and others who shared his thought had less influence upon the King and his counselors as the storm of war drove off toward the south,[1385] to the elation of Pius V, who overwhelmed Charles IX with protests against pacification.[1386] South of the Loire the principal interest of the third civil war is attached to the doings of that famous group of Huguenot warriors known as the “viscounts,” with whom Coligny had failed to connect before the battle of Jarnac. A brief account of the earlier achievements of this group, who sometimes fought together, sometimes separately, and had three or four thousand footmen and three or four hundred horsemen in their command,[1387] is necessary at this point. There were ten of these captains: Bernard Roger de Cominges, vicomte de Bruniquel; Bertrand de Rabastenis, vicomte de Paulin; Antoine de Rabastenis, vicomte de Montclaire; the vicomte de Montaigu; the vicomte de Caumont; the vicomte de Parat; Geraud de Lomagne, vicomte de Sevignac (near Beaucaire), a brother of Terride, who was a Catholic and implicated with Montluc in the project to deliver Guyenne to the King of Spain;[1388] the vicomte d’Arpajon; the vicomte de Rapin; and the vicomte de Gourdon.[1389] Three of these, and the most conspicuous, save Rapin,[395] the viscounts of Paulin, Bruniquel, and Arpajon were natives of the diocese of Albi, a stronghold of heresy from mediaeval times; the first had seen service in Piedmont in the reign of Henry II, and the ancestors of all three of them had fought against Ferdinand of Aragon in 1495.[1390] The viscount of Rapin was a leader of the great Huguenot rising in Toulouse in 1562, and was made Protestant governor of Montauban in 1564 by the prince of Condé.[1391] He was so bitterly hated by the people of Toulouse that he was accused of wanting to destroy the city utterly and remove the very stones to Montauban. He had fought in the second civil war, but was betrayed into the hands of the magistrates of Toulouse and condemned and executed there on April 13, 1569, in defiance of the King’s orders to the contrary. The Huguenots took terrible reprisal for this outrage, devastating the environs of Toulouse for leagues around, even inscribing on the ruins “Vengeance de Rapin.”[1392]

These four viscounts were the nucleus of the group and began their career in the first civil war. But save Rapin, none became conspicuous then. During the second war the others were drawn to the standard. They operated in Languedoc and Quercy at first, aided by the peasantry who seem to have turned toward them as natural enemies of the higher nobles.[1393] In the summer and autumn of 1568 their united hosts made a mighty raid up the valley of the Rhone from Montauban through Rouergue and the Cévennes, where part of the troops crossed the Rhone under the viscount of Rapin and joined the Protestant army of Dauphiné and Provence under a former lieutenant of Des Adresse. The rest remained in Languedoc. Later Rapin recrossed the river[396] into Vivarais with the hope of joining the prince of Condé. But the governor of Provence, the count of Tende, aided by the viscount of Joyeuse, the Catholic general in these parts, blocked his passage. In the midst of this plight relief came to the viscount of Rapin in the person of his former comrade in arms. But at least Joyeuse had prevented the union of the viscounts with the prince of Condé.

The people of Vivarais resented the occupation of the country by these guerrilla chieftains, much as their ancestors two hundred years before had risen against the Free Companies during the reign of Charles V. The towns organized an army of their own and distinguished themselves by routing the viscounts upon one occasion. In January, 1568, the viscounts succeeded in their early purpose, penetrated the Catholic army and crossed the Loire at Blois. The relief of Orleans and their union with the prince of Condé before Chartres hastened the peace of Longjumeau.[1394]

During the interim between the armistice of Longjumeau and the outbreak of the third war, the viscounts, in common with most of the Protestant forces of the south, seem not to have disarmed, but stayed in the vicinity of Montauban, the Huguenot capital of the far south. When war was renewed, Joyeuse and Gordes, governor of Dauphiné, unsuccessfully tried to keep the Huguenots east of the Rhone from joining them in Languedoc. At Milhaud in Rouergue a great council of war was held at which practically all the Protestant fighting forces of the south save Guyenne and Gascony were represented.[1395] In conformity with the plan there arranged, the viscounts remained in Quercy and Languedoc while the main army crossed the Dordogne with the purpose of joining the prince of Condé. But in Périgord it was met and scattered, on October 25, 1568, by the duke of Montpensier and Marshal Brissac. The viscounts continued to operate in Languedoc against Joyeuse and others. The success of their activities, especially the destruction of Gaillac (September 8, 1568) was what led to the[397] revival of the league at Toulouse under the cardinal of Armagnac on September 12, in the cathedral of St. Etienne. The recall of Joyeuse with the Catholic troops of Languedoc to the north to assist the duke of Anjou, left a clear field in Provence and Languedoc. The loss of Jarnac, March 13, 1569, where the prince of Condé was killed, may in part be ascribed to the fact that the viscounts refused to respond to his orders for them to come to him, so that the united forces of Anjou and Joyeuse overwhelmed the Huguenots. A similar reverse befell the Protestants on June 8 following, in the Ariège near Toulouse, where Bellegarde, the seneschal of Toulouse, routed the viscounts and captured the viscount of Paulin, who would have suffered the fate of the viscount of Rapin, had not Charles IX, less for magnanimity’s sake than to rebuke the parlement of Toulouse for violating the royal orders before, refused to have him delivered up to it.[1396] The shattered bands of the viscounts joined Montgomery, a leader of their own kind, who had been detached by Coligny from his own army, in the same month.

The reason for Montgomery’s appearance in the south is to be found in the peril threatening Béarn and Navarre at this time. Montluc had conceived the idea that Béarn might be conquered while its ruler was absent. The parlement of Toulouse energetically favored the project and on November 15, 1568, had issued an arrêt placing Béarn under its jurisdiction.[1397] In the early months of 1569 efforts were made with some success to corrupt the captains in the Béarnais army.[1398] When the plan was broached to the duke of Anjou he enthusiastically approved it. The time was auspicious, for it so happened that the suggestion coincided with his victory at Jarnac. Exactly a week after the battle[1399] he detached the seigneur de Terride with instructions to report to Montluc, for the duke thought Montluc could not be spared from[398] Guyenne.[1400] This order was a bitter disappointment to Montluc, who wanted to conquer Béarn himself, and he ever thereafter cherished a hatred against Marshal Damville[1401] who was away from his government at the time with the duke of Anjou, believing that Damville’s jealousy of him was responsible for it. This may very probably have been so, for, as will be seen later, the enmity between the two was extreme.

Terride’s campaign began well. One by one, in rapid order, the fortified towns of Béarn collapsed before him—Pontacq, Morlaas, Orthez, Sauveterre, and Pau—the birthplace of Henry of Navarre, while the country round about was wasted with fire and sword. The queen of Navarre’s lieutenant was driven to find refuge in Navarrens, whose château, reputed to be impregnable, had been built by Henri d’Albret during his enterprises against Spain. On April 27, 1569, Terride began the siege of the castle of Navarrens.[1402]

Montgomery, who arrived at Castres on June 21[1403] bearing the double commission of the two Protestant princes,[1404] in the course of four weeks found himself in the neighborhood of Toulouse and at the head of the united forces of the viscounts and some levies made in Albigeois. Montgomery’s energy amazed Montluc who was soldier enough to give his enemy credit for really wonderful achievement. He had never been in the country before and all the forces he had brought with him were three score and ten horses, and he had no other forces but those of the viscounts in the beginning. He had to cross the Garonne river, too, the entire length of which was watched by spies. The belief of the Catholic captains in Languedoc was that Montgomery intended to organize the defense of the places the Protestants were possessed of, and this erroneous opinion seems to have been given currency by the Huguenots themselves, “who had ever that quality to conceal their designs better than we,” testifies Montluc. “They are a people that rarely discover their counsels, and that is the reason why their enterprises seldom fail of taking effect.”


In Archives nationales, K. 1499, No. 84.


By rapid marching Montgomery reached Navarrens incredibly soon. Terride, his soldiers wearied out by a siege which had endured for three months and a half in midsummer, loaded with spoil, licentious and mutinous to an extent that shamed even the reiters, abandoned the siege and fell back on Orthez. But the city was not proof against the attacks of the viscounts. In broad daylight the walls were carried par escalade. On August 13, Terride, who had taken refuge in the castle with so much haste that he was without provisions or munitions, surrendered. He himself was spared by Montgomery for the purpose of being exchanged for the latter’s brother, but died before the transfer was made. His captains, almost to a man, were put to death. Some of these were former officers in the Béarnais army and were legally guilty of treason, but the real motive of Montgomery was reprisal for the ravages done by Terride’s army. At the beginning of the war the queen’s lieutenant, the heroic baron de Larboust, either in the hope of sparing Béarn, or anticipating what would be meted out again, had proposed to neutralize Béarn, putting it into the custody of the count de Grammont, even offering to oppose Montgomery if it were done. Terride refused and paid the price of his wilfulness and bigotry. Béarn was saved by Montgomery, in the most brilliant and most honorable campaign of his checkered career.[1405]


The Catholic failure to conquer Béarn goaded Montluc’s slumbering hatred of Damville to fury, for he believed the utter collapse of the Protestant cause would have followed the conquest.[1406] He blamed Damville for it, asserting that Terride’s overthrow was due to his slowness. But the marshal had had great difficulty in returning to his government. The Huguenots were in full possession of Quercy and the Albigeois, and the region around Toulouse was so much overrun by them that Damville was unable to reach Toulouse until the end of June.[1407] It took Montgomery even with the viscounts immediately at hand, nearly five weeks (June 21-July 27) to prepare for the relief of Navarrens, though the desperate condition of things there required haste, and with the entire civil as well as military burden of Languedoc upon him, a burden that necessarily had accumulated, too, during his absence, Damville could hardly be expected, with justice, to have got ready to go against Montgomery before the middle of August, by which time the siege of Navarrens was over. The truth is, Montluc and Damville radically disagreed as to the policy to be pursued in the south. Montluc’s patent covered the territory of Guyenne only. But Montluc, with a mere soldier’s disregard for forms of law, believed that it was a soldier’s duty to go where the need was greatest. He made the proposal that when Damville should have won a town in Languedoc he would come to attack another in Guyenne. To this the marshal demurred, asserting[401] that it was his duty to attempt to recover what had been lost in his government and pointed to his commission. Montluc derided the plea and accused Damville of being so proud “a grand lord, son to a constable and a marshal of France,” that he would not work with a poor gentleman.[1408]

In the late summer (1569) Montgomery victoriously returned from Béarn, having reached the highest point of his reputation. Within six weeks he had gathered an army, marched leagues through a strange and hostile country, crossed the Garonne and raised a siege against equal forces, and turned the Catholic conquest of Béarn into defeat. It seemed a dream both to friend and foe.[402] Nobly did his enemy say: “In all the wars there never was performed a more notable exploit.” If Montgomery had failed, Coligny would have had no place to retire to after the loss of Moncontour. For he came from that field of Protestant overthrow with the relics of an army only, mostly gentry and reiters, for the infantry was almost all cut to pieces or captured, without baggage, without money, even the horses needing to be reshod. It was well that the admiral could throw himself into the arms of Montgomery and the viscounts who enriched him with the spirit of their success and drew thousands, literally, to the Huguenot standard by the magic of their achievements. His following increased so rapidly that by the time he reached Montpellier he again had between ten and twelve thousand men.[1409] On January 3, 1570, Coligny and Montgomery united their forces. The dissension between Montluc[1410] and Damville gave them and the viscounts almost unrestrained freedom in Upper Gascony and Languedoc, where they grew enormously rich on the spoils of war, and carried their depredations to the very walls of Toulouse which was actually invested from January 22 to February 20, 1570.[1411]


When the news of Terride’s downfall was known to Montluc he made overtures to Damville in spite of his resentment. A council of war was held at Auch, but instead of coming himself the marshal sent Joyeuse to say that he thought it his duty to pass his time in his own government, considering the charge the country was under to sustain the war. It is interesting to observe the ancient ideas of provincial separation and autonomy asserting themselves at this time. In vain Montluc argued that the real enemy was in Guyenne and that the local hostility of the Huguenots in Languedoc was a little matter in comparison; that all Catholics were equally the King’s subjects and that the country was the King’s.[1412] Joyeuse answered that the estates of Languedoc would not pay for Montluc’s army unless he employed their money in recovering the places in their province. The decision abandoned Guyenne, leaving it alone and single handed, for the King’s forces were engaged in the protracted siege of St. Jean-d’Angély and could not come to its relief. “J’ay tousjours ouy dire que plus près est la chemise que la robbe,” said Montluc satirically.[1413]

The old man was on the point of discharging his army and retiring to Libourne or Agen, but the duty of a soldier forbade him. If he now abandoned the open country in so critical a condition, it would ever have been a reproach to him. He thought better of himself and attacked Mont-de-Marsan instead, where he placated[404] his outraged feelings by refusing the petition of the garrison to capitulate and secretly gave orders for the massacre of the entire number save the captain, Favas.[1414] This feat of arms insured the future of Gascony and the Landes, for the city served as a granary for all the surrounding country from whence, however, to the detriment of France, much grain was exported to Spain.[1415] After this exploit, feeling the impossibility of maintaining his forces in the field, Montluc disbanded his army, sending his son to Lectoure and himself retiring to Agen. It goaded him to the quick that the crown approved throughout of Damville’s conduct and either ignored his own complaints, or criticized him for what he had done. “I was born under a planet to be ever subject to calumny,” he growled. “Age deprives a man of his heat: for in my younger days the greatest prince upon earth could not have made me swallow such a pill.”

It may have been that Damville had friends at court and Montluc none; it may have been that the marshal’s pride of long descent made him indifferent or even contemptuous of Montluc in some degree. But if we look closely at things it is evident that the spirit of provincial separation was the fundamental source of the difficulty between them. This spirit penetrated to the very bottom. Both Montluc and Damville were making war with men levied from the country in which they were—with militia instead of regular troops. The consequence of this was that every man in the host had an eye to the welfare of his family or his friends instead of to the King’s business; moreover, many had relatives or friends with the enemy, which made them fight reluctantly; finally, they were ill-paid and had to subsist on plunder, which debauched discipline. The true remedy would have been for Charles IX to have raised the useless siege of St. Jean-d’Angély and to have come[405] in person into the southland, where the authority of the King might have overcome the local forces of separation; and where the regulars would have plied war as a trade, as the circumstances demanded.

The Catholics of the south had an example before their eyes in the reiters with the admiral, of the efficiency of regular troops over local forces. Coligny owed his future to them and Montgomery. The way the reiters made war excited the admiration of trained soldiers like Montluc. They so barricaded the villages in which they quartered themselves that nothing was to be got by assault and in the open country they were always mounted at the least alarm. It was very hard to surprise them. They were careful of their horses and arms and so terrible in action “that a man could see nothing but fire and steel.” The very grooms fought.[1416]

The reverses experienced at Poitiers, Moncontour, and St. Jean-d’Angély had not been fatal to the Protestants. In the middle of December Coligny wrote to the captain of La Charité that he felt ready to resume the offensive in the spring, having in La Rochelle, Cognac, Angoulême, Montauban, Castres, La Charité, and Montpellier a chain of impregnable fortresses extending from the seaboard clear to the heart of France, and controlling the Loire.[1417] A survey of the map will show the strength of the Huguenots in this part of France. All of Provence and Lower Languedoc was in full control of the Protestants, Montauban, Albi, and Castres, constituting a line of defense on the west. In Upper Languedoc they were not so strong and the condition of the Catholics was less precarious, since Toulouse, Auch, Agen, and Cahors, formed a quadrilateral in the very center. The Huguenots controlled many of the lesser towns, so that Montluc complained that time and again he had to pass through their hands “and for the least affair trot up and down with great trouble from city to city. Would to God that, as they do in Spain, we had made our constant[406] abode in the good towns; we had then both more riches and more authority.”[1418]

Guyenne was safely Catholic if it could continue to hold its own; for this important fact Montluc richly deserves credit.[1419] But Guyenne, Gascony, and Upper Languedoc were isolated from the Catholic north by a broad Protestant strip running southeastward from La Rochelle to Montpellier through Saintes, Cognac, Angoulême, Chalais, Bergerac, Montauban, Albi, Castres, Béziers, and Montpellier, which united Saintonge on the seaboard with Provence and Dauphiné. But, on the other hand, Béarn was separated from the main trunk of Calvinism and was not yet safe, in spite of Montgomery’s success, unless it were bound to the main trunk. The Huguenot leaders realized this, and one of Coligny’s adroitest strokes, after Moncontour, was the seizure of Port-Ste. Marie, below Agen on the Garonne, with the aid of the German reiters.[1420] The capture of this place (November 29, 1569) insured the passage of the Garonne to the Huguenots[1421] and accomplished for those of the far south what the possession of La Charité insured to those of central France, for it bridged the Garonne. Later, when Bernard d’Astarac, baron de Martamot, early in the following January (1570) recovered Tarbes[1422] on the Adour, the Huguenots had a chain of fortresses running straight north from Béarn through Condom and Nérac to Bergerac and Angoulême, and Catholic Gascony and Guyenne were cut in twain.

Montluc, having fortified Agen, the capture of which would have been another disaster to the Catholics, then set to work to contrive how to break the bridge of boats which Coligny had constructed. A mason who had once built a floating mill for the marquis de Villars above Port-Ste. Marie came to him and suggested loading the mill with stone, cutting it loose, and letting it float down stream with the hope of breaking the bridge. The Garonne at this[407] time was swollen with winter rains. The leaders were skeptical of the scheme, as the bridge was known to be protected by heavy cables above stream. But the captain Thodeas, an engineer with Montluc, supported the mason, after secretly surveying the structure. The novel battering-ram accomplished the work intended. Shortly before midnight the mill was loosed from its moorings, one of the soldiers being drowned in unchaining it. Coligny’s artillery, when it loomed through the darkness, made a desperate attempt to sink it by fire from the batteries at either end of the bridge, but in vain. The mill struck the bridge with such a shock that cables, chains, and boats all went to pieces with a crash. Two of the boats went down as far as St. Macaire and some, it was said, were picked up as far down as Bordeaux.[1423]

The destruction of the bridge was a heavy blow to the Protestants for it cut their forces into two parts. Besides Montgomery, very many of the reiters were caught on that side of the river toward Gascony. But Coligny’s enterprise robbed adversity of its sting. He improvised a bridge of two boats, upon which five or six horses could be carried at once, the boats being hauled by cable, after the Italian manner. It required an hour and a half to go and return, yet at last, with great pains and difficulty the whole company of reiters was got across stream. Montluc had proposed to Candale and La Valette that an attack be made upon Montgomery who was quartered at Condom, south of Nérac. But they were so slow in responding that Montgomery, too, was able to pass over, first his horse and then his foot, one after the other, it requiring five or six days for all his forces to make the transit.[1424]

But the admiral and Montgomery followed up this clever deed by a blunder so bad that the Reformed suffered for it for years afterward, and were saved from losing Béarn, perhaps, as they had almost lost it before, by the intervention of the Peace of St.[408] Germain. Coligny’s original plan was to pass the rest of the winter and until harvest in Gascony and Guyenne, with Port Ste. Marie as his base and to have heavy artillery brought from the fortresses of Béarn with which to take all the towns upon the Garonne as far as Bordeaux. The bridge assured them control of two of the richest provinces of France, for they were absolute masters of the field. By this means Bordeaux would have been at their mercy, for the sea power of the Huguenots at Blaye[1425] was sufficient to close the city upon the sea side. It could not have held out for more than three months, for already corn was selling there at ten livres per sack. Bordeaux itself was rich and strong but situated in a barren country, so that, deprived of the Garonne and Dordogne, it could presently be reduced to famine. As for the Protestant army it would have fared well. The lesser towns like Libourne and Lectoure must inevitably have succumbed with their stores, and the viscounts were in full possession of Comenge and Loumaigne, the most fertile counties of all Guyenne. There were numerous stores of grain here, for it was a practice of the dealers and even gentlemen, to accumulate three or four years’ store in anticipation of a dear year. Had the Huguenots once got Bordeaux in their clutches, they might have boasted that they had the best and strongest angle of the kingdom, both by land and sea, commanding five navigable rivers. The bridges over the Charente at Saintes and Cognac, being in their hands, no one could pass from Saintonge to Bordeaux where La Noue lay, “as valiant a man as any that ever was in France.” The river system of the southwest—the Charente, Ile, Dordogne, Lot, and Garonne—could have been made to bind the whole region into a compact whole if this plan had been carried out, and from behind these natural barriers the Protestants might have defied all the King’s armies.

Yet although Coligny’s army tasted of Bordeaux wine and his reiters watered their horses in the Garonne, he did not go on. He failed to see that the most vital need of the Huguenots was to gain complete mastery of the sea. This is what La Noue perceived and Coligny did not. After the loss of Rouen they had but one[409] important port town at their command, La Rochelle, which the blunders of the government in the second civil war had permitted the Protestants to make their own, on which depended Brouage, reputed the fairest and most commodious haven in all the kingdom, and the chief staple for salt in all the southwest.[1426]

The sequel to such a course, it is true, must probably have been the erection of the southwest of France into an independent state. Such a result, looking at the France of today, is repugnant to our feelings. But we must look at things as they were then and judge accordingly and without prejudice. In the first place, it is to be remembered that in Béarn there was already the nucleus of such a state to build upon; and secondly that Guyenne and Gascony for centuries had been possessions of another sovereignty, and that their attachment to France was barely over a century old. In the sixteenth century it was impossible to divorce religion from politics and the only solution was the separation of those which disagreed on matters of religion, as the division between the Protestant Dutch and the Catholic Flemish provinces in 1578-79 proves. The Peace of Augsburg had laid down the principle cujus regio, ejus religio, and no other policy could have prevailed in Germany at that time. But France was trying to make a monarchy, institutionally and necessarily Catholic, adapt itself to two religions, which could not be done as long as politics and religion, church and state, were united. Even after twenty-eight years more of struggle, neither the trial and experience of all those years nor the genius of Henry IV ever made the Edict of Nantes anything more than a modus vivendi which first proved intolerable to the Huguenots because of their own political ambitions, and finally to the monarchy of Louis XIV, whose motto was as truly: “Un roi, une loi, une foi” as it was “l’état, c’est moi.” The French monarchy in the nature of things, in the sixteenth century, could not be one-half Catholic and one-half Protestant, any more than the United States, as Lincoln said, could exist one-half slave and one-half free. What France would have lost by the creation of an independent state in the southwest would have been compensated for[410] by other gains in other ways. Such a state in southwest Europe would have been an effective agency for peace, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It not only would have relieved its Catholic neighbors of the religious dissidents within their borders; it would have been a checkmate upon the undue aggrandizement of either France or Spain, operating like Holland and Switzerland as a buffer state and for the maintenance of the balance of power. The Spanish marriages of France in the next century probably never would have been, with their attendant train of dynastic and territorial complications during the reign of Louis XIV. The Grand Monarque perhaps never would have conceived the thought of browbeating the rest of Europe, and certainly never would have been able to carry the idea out to the extent he did.

In abandoning his original plan in January, 1570, Coligny not merely altered the immediate future of France; perhaps he changed its destiny for centuries to come. Instead of securing peace and security for the Huguenots by cutting the Gordian knot and establishing an independent Huguenot state, with Béarn as its cornerstone, he threw the solution of the question back upon France. He had dreamed of a Huguenot France beyond sea. Why not one at home? Instead Coligny had become possessed with the idea that neither the King nor his ministers would seriously think of peace as long as the war could be kept confined to provinces remote from Paris and therefore, in order to force the hand of the King, it was necessary to force war upon him in the very heart of the kingdom. In other words, he conceived a new design, namely, to throw the war into the center of France once more, to march upon Paris, and, before its gates, dictate the terms he desired.

In pursuance of this new policy, the army of the admiral and the viscounts, with Montgomery, moved up the Garonne. Toulouse was invested for a month (January 22-February 20, 1570), as we have seen, without success and the country fearfully wasted.[1427][411] Want of provisions for men and horses at the end of this time compelled the host to move toward Carcassonne and Montréal.[1428] As the country between Montpellier and Avignon was almost totally in control of the Huguenots, Coligny soon moved thither, whence he followed up the right bank of the Rhone to Vivarais and Forez. Illness overtook him here and he was in great danger.[1429] For a time it seemed certain that fate would call Louis of Nassau who had joined him from Orange, to the leadership of the army.[1430] By the time of the admiral’s recovery, it was time for action if his design was to be executed, for things were in a greater state of doubt and uncertainty regarding the peace than ever.


(Bib. Nat., Estampes, Histoire de France, Q. b)

The prospect of peace darkened as the winter began to break and preparations in both camps grew more active. In February[412] the marshal Cossé prepared to expel the Huguenots from La Charité in order to deprive them of their only means of communication across the Loire River, by which assistance could be brought from Germany. This place had been one of the cities demanded from the government as pledge of good behavior, but the crown was determined not to yield in this particular. Queen Elizabeth had strongly assured the King that she had not directed nor licensed any of her subjects to carry arms or munitions to La Rochelle, but guarded herself against possible compromising evidence being discovered in future by adding that she “generally must permit merchants to resort indifferently to France.”[1431]

While the negotiations thus dragged on through March and April,[1432] a new element of excitement was introduced by the conduct of the reiters in the Catholic army. These adventurers, many of whom were Protestant in faith, tired of idleness and determined either to renew the war or secure their wages, on April 17 sent the King an address in which, in the same breath, they asserted their loyalty to Charles IX and their belief that those of the Reformed religion were only fighting for liberty of conscience and the preservation of their lives. Though guardedly put, reading between the lines, this memorial implied peace at once or immediate renewal of the war. Coincident with this manifesto the princes of Navarre and Condé joined in a note to the King declaring their resolution never to yield. To these causes of disaffection must be added the further one that many in the rank and file of the Huguenot party believed that the Protestant leaders were seeking to serve their own ends more than the common good; and accused them of being more anxious for the preservation of their privileges than for the free exercise of religion.


Matters continued thus to hang fire for several weeks. The King went to Mont St. Michel in the middle of May to keep the feast of Corpus Christi there, where, while professing his desire to conclude the peace, Charles IX nevertheless imposed a tax of 60,000 francs monthly upon those who had failed to bear arms in the late conflict. At the same time there was a large exodus of nobles from the court, many gentlemen, weary of long service in arms, soliciting and securing leave to retire. The talk of peace, too, continued to be current in the court,[1433] although Charles IX’s secret dealings with Montluc, the alienation of 50,000 écus de rente of the property of the church,[1434] and the fact that the marshal Cossé at this same time advanced out of Orleans with 2,000 horse and 4,000 French footmen and was soon joined by 8,000 Swiss and 30 companies of men-at-arms belied this.

Montluc had been on the point of resigning his commission for months past on account of the friction with Damville, but repented when there was prospect of the liberal marshal Cossé succeeding him, fearing lest, with another such as Damville, the Catholic cause throughout the south would be ruined.[1435] He still clung to the hope of seeing Béarn conquered notwithstanding Terride’s failure, and in June, 1570, the opportunity seemed to have come. With the aim of diverting the war from the Ile-de-France, and throwing it into the provinces once more—the farther the better—Charles IX grasped at a new expedition against Béarn. Montluc was given the commission.[1436] Notwithstanding his years and his infirmity and the penury of the government, which had neither munitions nor money to spare, Montluc managed to raise a considerable force.[1437]


He had resolved to besiege the little fortified town of Rabastens, near Tarbes, which he had chosen as the point of attack because he could draw upon Gascony for supplies from this place more easily than by beginning at St. Severs, which bordered on the Landes, “a country only fruitful in sands.”[1438] But the expedition came to an untimely end. In an unguarded moment Montluc exposed himself and “a harquebus-shot clapt into his face” with such force as to break his whole visage in, so that the cheek-bones were taken out in splinters. The town was taken, nevertheless. How it suffered may be read in the words of him who meted out its punishment.

My Lieutenant, who had marcht on the one hand of me when I went on to the Assault ... came to see if I was dead, and said to me: “Sir, cheer up your spirits, and rejoyce, we have entred the Castle, and the Soldiers are laying about them, who put all to the sword; and assure your self we will revenge your wound.” I then said to him, “Praised be God that I see the Victory ours before I dye. I now care not for death. I beseech you return back, and as you have ever been my friend, so now do me that act of friendship not to suffer so much as one man to escape with life.” Whereupon he immediately returned and all my servants went along with him, so that I had no body left with me but two Pages, Monsieur de Las, and the Chirurgeon. They would fain have sav’d the Minister, and the Governor, whose name was Captain Ladon, to have hang’d them before my Lodging, but the Soldiers took them from those who had them in their custody, whom they had also like to have kill’d for offring to save them, and cut them in a thousand pieces. They made also fifty or threescore to leap from the high Tower into the Moat, which were there all drown’d. There were two only saved who were hid, and such there were who offer’d four thousand Crowns to save their lives, but not a man of ours would hearken to any Ransom; and most of the women were kill’d who also did us a great deal of mischief with throwing stones. There was found within a Spanish Merchant whom the Enemy had kept prisoner there, and another Catholick Merchant also, who were both saved; and these were all that were left alive of the men that we found in the place, namely the two that some one help’t away, and the two Catholick Merchants. Do not think, you[415] who shall read this Book, that I caused this slaughter to be made so much out of revenge for the wound I had received, as to strike terror into the Country, that they might not dare to make head against our Army. And in my opinion all Souldiers in the beginning of a Conquest ought to proceed after that manner, with such as are so impudent as to abide Canon; he must bar his ears to all Capitulation and Composition, if he do not see great difficulties in his Enterprize, and that his Enemy have put him to great trouble in making a Breach. And as severity (call it cruelty if you please) is requisite in case of a resolute opposition, so on the other side mercy is very commendable, and fit, if you see that they in good time surrender to your discretion.[1439]

Since his assumption of the command at La Rochelle La Noue had displayed an energy that drove the enemy to despair. On land and on sea he became a terror to them. Sometimes it was by arresting the King’s galleys and bringing them as prizes to La Rochelle or Brouage;[1440] sometimes it was by driving them out, as at Rochefort, by digging a trench which poured waters waist deep down upon them; sometimes it was by battle in the open field. La Noue outmatched Puygaillard at every point, notwithstanding that his antagonist had the King’s picked troops. In the plain of Ste. Gemme, near Luçon, their armies clashed in a fierce, stubbornly fought engagement. Nearly all the captains of his enemy’s two regiments and 500 arquebusiers were killed and as many more taken prisoner. The brilliant captain at last won, although he was so badly injured by an arquebus shot in the left arm that amputation was necessary. Yet in the hour of his own intense suffering he magnanimously lamented “the death of so many brave gentlemen.”[1441]


Much more decisive than this engagement, however, was Coligny’s action. The admiral had been lingering at Montbrison in Auvergne during May for the purpose of guarding the upper Loire.[1442] Alarmed by the formidable army under the marshal Cossé, Coligny now determined to strike suddenly and hard in order to preserve La Charité. This resolution precipitated the battle of Arnay-le-Duc on June 15, 1570.[1443] The result of this victory was startling. The government capitulated almost at once. All the essential terms of peace had been thrashed over during the spring and in less than a week after the battle Charles IX held in his hands the articles of pacification demanded by the Huguenots, chiefly stipulating for the free exercise of religion within three towns in every province and at Charenton, amnesty for the past and restitution of offices and estates. But the crown flatly refused the right within ten miles of Paris, or even for Protestant noblemen attending court in their own chambers and offered two towns in each province instead of three. When this was refused it was finally settled to adopt August 1, 1570, as an annus normalis, and permit Calvinist worship to be held in all towns in the possession of the Huguenots on that date. The two points of contention still unsettled were the payment of the reiters and determination of the surety-towns. The government at first proposed that the payment of the reiters be equally apportioned between the subjects of both religions, but finally shouldered the burden. As to the surety-towns—the most important point of all as far as practical politics was concerned—great difficulty was experienced before agreement was made. The King at first offered to yield La Rochelle, Angoulême, and Montauban, and to trade Perpignan or Lansac for La Charité.[1444] Later, Angoulême was withdrawn and Cognac substituted, to the displeasure of the Huguenots, and La Charité definitely yielded. As to other matters, namely, restitution of honors, offices, estates, privileges, equality of justice, amnesty, release of prisoners, and[417] the like, these of course were provided for, and Protestant nobles enjoying “high justice” were to be permitted to enjoy free exercise of the Calvinist faith, including baptism in their houses, for their families, and all others in their dependence,[1445] an evidence that the feudal element in the Huguenot party was more considered than the bourgeoisie.[1446]

The papal nuncio, understanding that the Huguenots had demanded the exercise of their religion in the counties of Verre and Avignon, which belonged to the Pope, declared that no peace could be made with those who were outside of the church.[1447] At the same time the Spanish ambassador, being informed that it was part of the Huguenot programme to secure the restitution of William of Orange and his brother Louis of Nassau to their French possessions, also protested warmly against the peace. Spain offered direct assistance to France of men and money, and the city of Paris and the clergy offered to maintain the war at their own expense for eight months longer. But these protests were ineffectual. The Spanish ambassador’s mouth was stopped by the rejoinder that the French King had as much right to make a treaty of peace with his subjects as Philip of Spain had to make terms with the Moriscos,[1448] and so, though apprehensive of French[418] and German Protestant assistance being given to Orange and fearful of an attack upon Franche Comté, the Spanish ambassador was forced to be content with the promise of France that no hostility was intended or would be permitted in France toward Spain.

The Peace of St. Germain was the broadest and most substantial body of privileges yet secured by the French Protestants. Antedating the Edict of Nantes by twenty-eight years, it might have been as great and as permanent an instrument as the latter, if the ambition of the Guises and the intervention of Spain in French affairs had not overthrown it. France itself, government and people, was tired of ten years of strife and disposed to peace. The economic interests of the country were anxious for peace. Only zealots for the religion and those who sought to fish in troubled waters reprobated the terms of St. Germain and sought to continue the struggle. It is true that mutual suspicion still prevailed. Some of the Huguenots anticipated new encroachments again, destructive of the peace, and that the King only aimed to disarm the Protestants in order to overwhelm them later. But time, in all probability, would have qualified this feeling. Religion, unless artificially exaggerated, had ceased to be the primary issue of France by 1570. The real issue was Spain. For all parties alike in France had begun to chafe because of the power acquired by foreign military influences, especially that of Philip—a feeling which ultimately was destined to unite the country on the basis of a national patriotism and embolden Henry of Navarre to expel the Spaniard and establish the Bourbon throne on a truly national basis.

An incident which took place at the court in mid-July, when the terms of peace were under consideration, illustrates this all but universal hatred of Spain. One day the Spanish ambassador entered the King’s chamber for audience. Soon afterward the marshal Tavannes came in, who was somewhat deaf and accustomed[419] to speak in a loud voice. Perceiving the ambassador he gruffly remarked in a voice so audible as to be heard by Alava:

These Spaniards would do better to govern their own members and not interfere by trying to govern other people’s countries. For I well know that the Spaniards have no wish but to foment civil wars, so that both one party and the other may be weakened and they themselves become stronger than both. For my own part, I would rather see a hundred white capes [the Huguenot costume] than one red cross [the device the Spaniards wore]; because, after all, the first are our brethren and our kindred, while the latter are the natural enemies of our country.[1449]

It was an opportune time for France to undertake an anti-Spanish policy, and it was soon predicted that she would follow such a course.[1450] Aside from the discomfiture of the Guises owing to the peace, a condition which peculiarly discountenanced the cardinal of Lorraine, the duke of Guise was in disgrace also. For he was discovered to have made overtures of marriage to Madame Marguerite, the King’s sister, and the lady herself for whom a Portuguese match was being considered as a blow to Spain, was reputed to have expressed a preference rather to stay in France than “to eat figs in Portugal.” Guise, when the discovery was made that he had raised his eyes to the princess, hastily attempted to divert suspicion by marrying the princess of Porcien. But the episode injured the influence of the Guises, and brought Montmorency forward as the man of the hour.[1451]

Under the new régime, the government set about carrying out the terms of pacification, enforcement of which chiefly depended upon the upright and just conduct of the four marshals.[1452] By the[420] end of September the camps were wholly broken up and the reiters either over or on their way across the frontier.[1453] To be sure, radical Protestants continued to complain of infractions of the edict.[1454] But the one serious infraction of the edict was in the fifteenth article, providing that all scholars, the sick and the poor, should be received in the universities, schools, and hospitals without difference or distinction on account of religion. The Catholic party, in the hope of abridging the development of the competing religion soon persuaded the King to nullify this provision. In compliance with a petition praying that the crown would forbid any of the Reformed religion from holding any post of authority in the University of Paris, and also that the university authorities might have power to search for and seize all heretical books, Charles IX on October 8, 1570, issued a proclamation forbidding any Calvinist from holding any office or teaching in the University of Paris and giving the authorities thereof the right of search for heretical books.[1455] On November 20, this was followed by a more sweeping decree forbidding any persons from keeping schools or holding office in any college, or lecturing on any art or science in public or in private unless recognized and approved by the Roman church.[1456] Nevertheless, these petitions, complaining of infractions of the edict, were more smoke than fire. The only internal issue of great importance was an economic one.

Apart from the destructiveness of the war, nature again dealt[421] hardly with France in this year. There were heavy rains over all Europe which either rotted the grain in the fields or washed it out. A great inundation of the Seine occurred on June 2, 1570, and the plague began to grow more virulent once more.[1457] There was a certain amount of reason in the demand for a new session of the Estates to consider the economic distress of France, but the King was wise in refusing the request, for in event of its meeting, the enemies of Spain would have been sure to endeavor to fan the ashes of the late civil war into flames again. As a solace to those demanding economic relief Charles IX promised to abolish sundry superfluous offices and to tax the nobles instead of the commons for the relief of his debts which amounted to 37,000,000 francs. An earnest of this intention is manifest in an ordinance requiring parish wardens to keep accounts and to make a declaration of the revenue of their churches and to send this information to the royal bailiffs. Every parish was forced to obey this edict, which was a novelty indeed. But the parish authorities took advantage of the situation and not merely rendered an account of their incomes, but also gave the King a minute account of the ruin they had suffered at the hands of the Huguenots. The bailiffs received these declarations and sent them to the Privy Council of the King, where the evidence was reviewed and every church taxed accordingly. The churches which had been burned by the Protestants were lightly taxed, and those which were found to be incapable of payment were authorized to sell their possessions, their vessels, jewels, or lands, or else impose a tax on the parish.[1458]

But the thrifty bourgeoisie of France were too lucrative a source of income for the King to keep his promise not to tax them more. In March, 1571, an edict was issued providing that bolts of woolen cloth should be sealed with a leaden seal before sale, and that each bolt should be taxed 3 francs, 4 deniers. The new impost, which was very unpopular, was ascribed to the Italian influence at court.[1459]




The dominant politics of France in the years 1570-72 were foreign, not domestic, and had to do with Spain. The clouds hung heavy over Spain’s dominions in spite of the suppression of the Moriscos, and dark was the prospect ahead for Philip II. In the east only was light. The great victory at Lepanto over the Turks, fought on October 7, 1571, though of general benefit to Christendom, was of greatest advantage to Spain.

It is at this juncture that the duke of Anjou, the King’s brother, becomes a conspicuous political figure, one, indeed, of international importance. In order to confirm the confidence of the Huguenots, but especially to strengthen France against Spanish preponderance, the idea was again put forward of marrying Anjou to Queen Elizabeth.[1460] At the same time the plan was broached of marrying young Henry of Navarre to the sister of the duke of Württemberg. But again Montmorency came to the forefront and revived the plan suggested in 1569 of marrying the princess Marguerite, Charles IX’s youngest sister, to Henry of Navarre. Coligny for the Huguenots, and Walsingham and Norris for England, urged the double plan.[1461] The Ridolfi plot proved to Elizabeth that England, like France, had her greatest enemy in Spain.


From a picture by François Du Bois of Amiens († 1584 at Geneva). The original, in the Museum Urlaud at Lausanne, is 3½ × 5 feet.

In the middle of the picture Coligny is being thrown out of the window, below which stand the dukes of Guise and Aumale and the bastard of Angoulême. Teligny, the admiral’s son-in-law is trying to escape over the roof. In the background is the Louvre, with Pilles being beset in the doorway. The bodies of Bricquemault and Cavagnies are hanging from the gibbet in the street. On the hill-top in the right of the picture the gibbet of Montfaucon is seen. On the left bank of the Seine some Huguenots are escaping by the Porte de Nesles—Montgomery is the man on horseback outside the gate. The windmill stands on Mont Sainte Geneviève.


The consternation of the Guises and Spain at the discovery of this double marriage project was great. The Guises sought to break the proposed marriage of Anjou and Queen Elizabeth by offering him Mary Stuart, and that of Henry of Navarre with the King’s sister by offering the cardinal d’Este as a prospective husband, since he was universally expected to succeed his brother, the duke of Ferrara who was without issue. Tuscan influence was used to this end. Spain and the papacy, for their part, dangled before the eyes of the duke of Anjou the post of command over the fleet preparing against the Turks.[1462] The gulf between France and Spain, however, was too wide to be bridged by such an offer. Disappointed at Bayonne, Catherine was dreaming of the elder[424] daughter of the Hapsburgs as the future wife of Charles IX. Such a marriage appealed to her as a practical way of playing one house of Hapsburg against the other, although she plausibly represented it as a new tie that would bind France and the Hapsburgs in greater amity.[1463]

The counter-claims of France and Austria to the Three Bishoprics, and the renewal by France of her former relations with Turkey, retarded this negotiation.[1464] The greatest hindrance, though, was the opposition of Philip II. It was with the object of frustrating the designs of France that Philip II had transferred his ambassador in France, Chantonnay, from Paris to Vienna.[1465] At Bayonne, the queen mother had exerted all her influence in vain to prevail upon the court of Spain to commit itself. When Fourquevaux succeeded St. Sulpice at Madrid, he, in turn, continued to urge that Charles IX should marry the princess Anne; that Marguerite of Valois should marry Don Carlos, and Henry of Anjou the infanta Juana, Philip’s sister. But Philip II still hesitated between Mary Stuart and Anne of Austria, and suggested the younger daughter of Maximilian as prospective spouse for Charles IX.[1466] Matters remained thus undetermined for years. The marriage of Mary Stuart to Darnley in 1565 and the death of Don Carlos in July, 1568 raised Catherine’s hopes. But they were dashed to pieces after the death of Elizabeth of Valois, on October 3, 1568, when Philip II himself became the suitor for the hand of Anne of Austria. French and Spanish diplomacy thereafter plotted and counterplotted, until in 1570 the French King had to endure the chagrin of seeing his expected queen become the fourth bride of Philip of Spain and himself be satisfied with the younger sister, whose physical charms[1467] did not compensate for the injury to his pride.[1468]


But Philip gained another point of advantage over the French King, a point which the latter never discovered. The duchy of Lorraine, was a fief of the empire and had been so ever since the Middle Ages. Situated in the penumbra between France and Germany, the duke of Lorraine’s position had become a complex one and he was a vassal of France for the border duchy of Bar. As a sign of his amity toward the Emperor, Charles IX at the time of his marriage agreed to release the duke of Lorraine from his fealty to France. This waiver stirred the patriotic indignation of the keeper of the seal, Morvilliers, who resigned his office, declaring that he would not be an agent for separating from the crown of France any principality owing allegiance to it. Unfortunately for the future, the King appointed a secret partisan of Spain to the post. This was Biragues, a Milanese by birth, whose sinister influence was to play no mean part in the future.[1469]

As might be expected, the winter and spring of 1571-72 were filled with cross-negotiations of great importance. The greatest Catholic-Spanish fear was lest a positive alliance be made between France, England, and Holland, and perhaps the Protestant German states for the liberation of the Netherlands, that league to have greater binding force through the double marriage of the duke of Anjou and Queen Elizabeth and Henry of Bourbon to Marguerite of France.[1470] Spain, to prove France, made final demand[426] of Charles IX: namely, that he forcibly suppress the activity of the prince of Orange in France; that Spain be permitted to levy Catholics in France to serve in the Low Countries; that France restrain the preparations of the Huguenots, especially those of La Rochelle, from aiding the Dutch cause on the sea; that France renounce her alliance with Turkey and join the Holy League against the Ottoman; and finally, that Charles IX abandon the project of marrying his sister to the prince of Navarre. Charles IX’s replies were very vague. To the first of these demands he replied that his country was too much exhausted by the late wars to take up arms for any cause; to the second he said that if he permitted Catholic levies to be made in France, the Huguenots would not believe them to be for service abroad but would again take up arms; as to the preparations at La Rochelle, it remained to be seen if their purpose was not mercantile instead of military.[1471]

The attitude of the various parties in France toward the crown’s Spanish policy was a peculiar one. The Huguenots and moderate Catholics of course urged the marriage of the King’s brother to Queen Elizabeth with the greatest zeal. But even intense Catholics, like Tavannes, singular as it seems, urged the match, with Machiavellian ingenuity estimating that the King, by incurring the deeper enmity of Spain, would be compelled to avail himself of their services, and thus, in the end, the cause of Catholicism in France would be promoted.[1472] The queen mother, with characteristic caution, professed much inclination for the match, but urged that it could not be attempted without hazarding the King’s honor. Meanwhile Montmorency, pushed it with all his ability, alternately urging Catherine de Medici and Lord Burghley by an assiduous correspondence.[1473]


How purely political as an issue religion had become by this time in Europe is made almost cynically manifest in the conferences between the advocates of the French-English match for the purpose of overcoming the religious disparities represented by the principals in the proposed match. From the beginning of the negotiations it was evident that every compromise made in religion would have to be made by France. The incongruities of age and religion and the complications of politics were great. The hardest thing, perhaps, to estimate, is the influence of Elizabeth’s vacillation. Catherine de Medici, on the whole, seems to have been anxious for the match. So protracted and so intricate were the negotiations that the duke of Anjou, with mingled prejudice and despair, declared that “all was but dalliance.”[1474] It was speciously urged upon the duke that no attempt was being made to effect his sudden conversion to the Anglican religion, but that he should forego the use of private mass, and “examine whether he might not with good devotion use the forms of prayers appointed throughout her realm, the same being in effect nothing but that which the Church of Rome uses, saving that it is in the English tongue, which, if he pleased, might be translated into French; and further, that the usage of the divine service in England did not properly compel any man to alter his opinion in the great matters being now in controversy in the church.”[1475] To this it was rejoined that “religion was a constant persuasion confirmed by time” and that “relenting in religion, being a matter of conscience, was an inconvenience of more weight than any that might happen to the queen.”[1476] For a while Anjou,[428] although after the Edict of St. Germain he had staunchly protested that no preaching be allowed anywhere in his territories—which the King granted—wavered between policy and conscience. One day while visiting Madame Carnevalet, the wife of his tutor, he said with affected gaiety: “Carnevalet, thou and I were once Huguenots, and now again are become good Catholics.” “Aye,” she said, “we were so, and if you proceed in the matter you wot of, you will then return to be a Huguenot.”[1477]

Spain did everything possible to thwart the negotiation. Her ambassador in the presence of the King’s council inveighed against the plan, asserting that the kingdom of France was going to ruin, but he was cautious not to allege any ground but that of religion.[1478] Finally the counter-practices of the Guises and the Spanish ambassador, partly by appeals to religious scruples and partly by the means of lavish promises, overcame Anjou’s hesitation and he flatly refused to consider the marriage.[1479] The King was furious. “Brother,” he said, “you should have used some plainness with me in this matter and not leave me to wade so far to abuse a prince I so much esteem and honour. You allege conscience to be the cause but I know it is a late pension offered unto you by the clergy, who would have you still remain here for a champion of the Catholic faith. I tell you plainly, I will have no other champion here but myself, and seeing you have such a desire to remain here on such respects, it behooves me the more narrowly to look to you; and as for the clergy, seeing they have so great superfluity, and I so great necessity, the benefices being at my disposition, I will take a new order; and as for those who make the offer, I will make some of them shorter by the head.”[1480]


Nevertheless, despite the fact that the cause was a lost one, the matter was protracted so long that the negotiators of the affair themselves perceived the humor in it. Elizabeth protested that “of herself she had no mind thereto, yet the continual crying unto her of her Privy Council, the necessity of the time, and the love of her subjects, had turned her mind to marriage,” while the duke of Anjou reasserted his belief in his future damnation if he yielded anything in the matter of religion. Smith, the English envoy, solemnly averred that “the matter of religion would be the most honourable to break off with,” both for his mistress and the duke, and in the same breath asked whether it would suffice if the duke were suffered for a time to have his mass private in some little oratory or chapel—this so that there should be no scandal to any of the Queen’s subjects. The queen mother replied that the duke must have the exercise of his religion open, lest he should seem to be ashamed of it, and that he was now of late so devout that he heard two or three masses every day, and fasted the Lent and vigils so precisely “that he began to be lean and evil-coloured,” so that she was angry with him and told him that she “had rather he were an Huguenot than be so foolishly precise to hurt his health.” She told the English ambassador that he would not be content to have his mass in a corner, but insisted upon “high mass and all the ceremonies thereof according to the time, and in song after all solemn fashion of the Roman church, and a church or chapel appointed where he might openly have his priests and singers and use all their ceremonies.”

“Why, Madame,” ejaculated Smith, “then he may require also the four orders of friars, monks, canons, pilgrimages, pardons, oil and cream, relics, and all such trumperies. The queen of England will never agree to any mass, let alone great high mass, with all the ceremonies of Rome according to the season, priest, deacon, subdeacon, chalice, altar, bells, candlesticks, paten, singing men, ‘les quatre mendiants et tous les mille diables’”—at which tirade all but Anjou laughed.[1481]

It is at this moment that the duke of Alençon comes forward[430] into the light around the throne. Since the duke of Anjou was “so extraordinarily, papistically superstitious”[1482] both sides turned toward him, notwithstanding the absurd disparity between his age and that of Queen Elizabeth. Even Elizabeth’s hardy modesty blushed at the thought of such a match,[1483] and the objection of inequality in their ages was backed up by guarded expressions of repugnance on account of the disfigurement the young duke had suffered from smallpox.[1484]

The Huguenot pressure eagerly supported the proposed marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the duke of Alençon, for the duke was as easy in religion as his brother was straight.[1485] The admiral Coligny urged it upon Lord Burghley, pointing out that it would strengthen the treaty of Blois,[1486] while others urged that England would have a practical advantage from the fact that Alençon was as rich in lands as his brother, and that the duchy of Alençon adjoined Normandy, where the whole of the nobility was devoted to the duke, and hoped by his means to be restored[431] to their ancient privileges and liberties, and that then England could make “a bulwark and defense” out of Normandy for her own protection.[1487]

It is a difficult story to take seriously, for each one of the actors felt its hollowness and unreality. One feels that it was a gigantic bubble produced by English and French councilors of state to amuse and occupy each other by its brilliancy and wavering instability. Yet the greatest statesmen in England were driven nearly to distraction by their endeavors to keep it in the air. At first this diplomatic affair assumes an almost farcical comedy aspect: then it darkens into tragedy. It is a game of chess in which the players are grave and reverend statesmen and the pieces queens and princes, with this distinction, that the pieces are always likely to move of themselves and create unexpected combinations. Yet, for all its hollowness, the story deserves attention, for as long as it lasted it absorbed the attention of the persons concerned, and it illustrates most admirably Elizabeth’s and Catherine’s tortuous methods of diplomacy.

When the negotiations began, Elizabeth was already thirty-eight years old and of vast experience in promoting and then avoiding marriages. As a coy and bashful damsel, she could always plead her repugnance to the marriage state, and as the head of a Protestant nation, religion was another rock of refuge when anxious or angry suitors pressed her too closely. She had fooled Philip and she had kept the poor Austrian archduke gamboling before her. What could the pockmarked François d’Alençon expect but disaster? Yet it was he who came the nearest to pinning her down to a state of matrimonial stability.

The two things in Catherine’s character which seem to be especially prominent in this tale of love and lying are her thirst for power for herself and a mother’s natural ambition for her children.

Alençon’s appearance is the one thing about him which is seriously discussed. He was born 1555 and was therefore twenty-two[432] years younger than Elizabeth. This was, of course, an enormous objection, or, at least, one which could always be urged. His age is the official and public objection, but his face and stature affected Elizabeth far more.[1488] As to his character we have the testimony of the English and Venetian ambassadors. Smith, in January, 1572, calls him “a good fellow and a lusty prince” and says “he is not so obstinate, papistical, and restive like a mule as his brother is.” Dale, in the quaint letter in a Hatfield MS says of him: “As touching his behavior he ys the most moderate yn all the court; never present at any of the licentious acts of his brethren, nor here nor at Rochelle; of much credit, and namely with them of the religion; thus he ys and hath ben hetherto; what may be hereafter God knoweth.” On the whole, the English ambassadors favored him, Walsingham the least. Evidently he was not an unpleasant person, but a young and inexperienced lad, ambitious to do great things, resenting his treatment at the court, and so plunged into the current of things, only to be deceived and ruined by the superior cunning of his supposed friends. His shortcomings may be excused on the ground of his environment and bringing up; may even be praised as being more manly and significant than the effeminate Henry.

Alençon’s motives in attempting to win Elizabeth are obvious. His position in France was most unpleasant to him: suspected by his brothers, made fun of and pestered by the Guises and the “mignons” of the court; condemned to a life of subordination and idleness by the accident of his birth, the prospect of the hand of the Queen of England seemed most glowing, even though she was a heretic and more than twenty years older than he. But why should Catherine and Elizabeth ever consider such an intrinsically absurd proposition?

Elizabeth was face to face with several problems, foreign and domestic, upon the solution of which depended her throne and her very existence. It is hard to remember as one looks back upon her long and splendid reign that there was hardly a moment in it when she was free from the danger of overthrow and execution.[433] This danger, at this time, had just manifested itself in the Ridolfi plot in which the duke of Norfolk, the greatest noblemen of England, Spain, Mary Stuart, and the Pope had all combined. Naturally the Catholic nobles rallied around Mary, the probable successor to the throne, while the Protestants were at a loss to know what to do in view of the unsettled succession. So great was the excitement that Elizabeth always hesitated to call a Parliament for fear it would attempt to urge her on to marriage. Negotiations, not to speak of marriage, with France would immensely relieve the situation. They could be used before Parliament to show that Elizabeth was doing her best; hopes of a settled succession would at once reassure the country and diminish Mary’s importance, both as a center of conspiracy and as a source of danger in other ways. To be sure, this possible marriage might excite the Catholics to renewed efforts to save their faith, but the fact that France was Catholic and that from it might come much of their help would militate against disturbance. Negotiations might bring about most of these results and would in any case gain time and postpone the solution of the difficulties.

A second problem before Elizabeth was the maintenance of the Protestant faith. So far as this enters the negotiations it is mostly a pretext, but there was, nevertheless, an actual problem. Negotiations for marriage with a Catholic prince might stir up the Catholics to renewed activities and raise hopes which it might be difficult to allay, but, on the other hand, Elizabeth could hope for relief from the Huguenot movement in France, and the rebellious Dutch, while the alliance with a Catholic prince would immensely strengthen her in her own middle ground. To allow him to bring the mass with him might cause trouble, but still one prince could not do much when queen and council were carefully watching him.

Scotland was another source of continual anxiety to the English ministry. The government was unsettled and the power likely to fall at any time into the hands of those who would turn it over to France. Of course this danger would be entirely removed by a French marriage, though as events proved, negotiations did not[434] stop the intrigues. A similar point of attack existed in Ireland where the least encouragement was sure to raise rebellion. A French marriage would make danger in that quarter also less likely.

But perhaps the greatest source of danger was from Spain. There were countless reasons why Philip should declare war—religion, the seizure of his treasure by Elizabethan seamen, the treatment of Mary (though this did not at first much concern him), and Spanish repression in the Netherlands. English negotiation with France would be of value to England, if for nothing else, in keeping France and Spain apart. It was hoped, moreover, that once England and France were united, the combination might check Philip in his dealing with the Netherlands and the English Catholics and in the cruelties visited on Englishmen in Spain.

But there were grave objections to a marriage. It would introduce a new and unknown element into English councils. Suppose, as a Catholic, the King should join that party; or worse, ally himself with Mary herself, plot the death of Elizabeth and a Catholic restoration. Or suppose he should become king of France? or that his child should be heir to both thrones? The thought of becoming a French dependency was intolerable to England. In any case it would mean a break with Spain and how could England be sure that France was not merely tempting her to that, finally to leave her to face Spain alone? Plainly, marriage was too close and dangerous a union—as for negotiations, that was another matter, and it was simply for the negotiations themselves that Elizabeth entered upon them. This is proved, I think, by her entire policy. Whenever France seems most willing she draws away; but when France seems likely to abandon such fruitless endeavors, she at once becomes affable and yielding. Sometimes her ministers urged her to definite and decided action, but she always managed to find a loop-hole, if either they or circumstance had forced her into too dangerous agreement.

France, on the other hand, could not be content with mere negotiations. She, too, had several definite problems. Rent by[435] civil war, with enormously powerful barons on the one side and a clamorous people on the other, while outside the realm stood Spain and England, only too glad to promote and foster her difficulties, the crown was in a struggle for existence as real as that of Elizabeth. To join Spain would be for France to lose her integral existence and to be swallowed up in the maw of the Hapsburgs. Therefore the English alliance was the only refuge. Besides there were many other advantages. It would stop England’s meddling in French affairs and would calm and reassure the Huguenots. But there was the rub: did the Huguenots need to be reassured? Could France safely commit herself to a liberal policy? To Catherine it was not so much that, as the question of her own authority and personal ambition for her family; she had no intention of giving place to the Huguenots any more than she had to the Guises. And so she wavered when the Guises were becoming too powerful, and helped along the marriage; when the Huguenots began to be too authoritative, she frowned on it.

To the Huguenots the marriage was a question of enormous advantage—if it were accomplished, the Calvinists might hope, not only for success in France, but in the Low Countries as well; while to the Guises, on the contrary, the alliance meant the ruin of their hopes for Mary and for absolute dominion in France.

But to all the risk was great. Elizabeth was by no means firmly seated upon her throne and seemed to be manifesting a reckless carelessness in the leniency of her treatment of the late conspirators. The English ambassadors noted that any “roundness” of treatment at home at once caused a quickening of the negotiations. The real objection, both with France and with England, was fear of duplicity. Neither could trust the other. Each insisted that the other should commit itself first; neither would consent, with the result that all came to naught. This was just what Philip expected. Naturally a French-English league would have seriously hampered him, but he had found by long and trying experience that when Elizabeth talked of marriage, she was only amusing herself with a polite fiction. Not once does[436] he take the matter seriously. So the Spanish attitude was one of unconcern, which in itself added to the fear of both Elizabeth and Catherine, for each supposed some secret understanding with Spain on the part of the other.

With such motives and in such troubled waters the negotiations went on. In the end Elizabeth could not “digest the inconvenience” of the proposed marriage, and failing to cement the new friendship of France and England by this form of alliance, it was then suggested that a political compact, not a marriage alliance, be made between the two powers.[1489] But there were great difficulties in the way of this project. For, although the English desired a closer union with France, they were nevertheless not unprepared to treat with Spain, and to use the prospective alliance with France for the purpose of bringing Philip II to terms. England was unwilling yet to be considered as an open enemy of Spain, in spite of the fact she was well aware of Alva’s plot with Lord Seton and other Scotch and English refugees in Flanders.[1490]

Trade considerations were of great influence in governing this attitude. England could not afford to forfeit her commercial intercourse with Spain and Flanders for the none-too-sure friendship of France, since the staple in Flanders was worth between two and three millions.[1491] France could not offer any staple or[437] port advantages to England comparable with those England enjoyed elsewhere.[1492] England accordingly proposed that the league be extended to include the Protestant princes of Germany and that they should join together “in defense against any who for matters of religion should use force against any of them;” secondly, that France would bind herself not to support the cause of Mary Stuart in Scotland; and thirdly, that France would not seek any greater trade advantages in the Low Countries than she had in former times. France balked at the proposed extension of the alliance to Germany and it was dropped; as to Scotland, she was willing to make a partial sacrifice of honor for the sake of political advantage.[1493]

But England’s fear of contributing to the aggrandizement of France was too keen to permit her to have free rein in the Netherlands,[1494] though Walsingham proposed a way to prevent the possibility of French ascendency there, and declared that the grandeur of France abroad was less to be feared by England than the continuance of civil war in France or the destructive policy of Alva in the Netherlands.[1495] Burghley was as cautious as his mistress. “If the sea-ports fall into the hands of the French,” he wrote, “they will regulate not only the commerce of our merchants abroad but the sovereignty of the Channel, which belongs to us.”[1496] The[438] jealous determination of England to monopolize the commerce of the Low Countries was, the greatest obstacle to the formation of the alliance. For England most of all feared lest France would not content herself with Flanders and Artois.[1497]

In the delicate business of state which burdened him at this season, Charles IX showed more acumen than either his new-found friends of Protestant faith or the Catholics had expected to find, because while exerting himself to keep the peace with Spain on the one hand, on the other he endeavored to conciliate his Protestant subjects. Unlike his elder brother, Francis II, Charles IX was of strong physical frame, being big boned and vigorous, until the fatal taint of his heritage and his excesses undermined his constitution[1498] and brought on the disease of consumption of which he died. He was gross, even brutish in inclination, rejoicing in base physical sport and disinclined to books.[1499] But in the present[439] politics Charles IX showed little of the rashness of his physical nature.[1500] Nevertheless the King went farther than caution approved in dealing with his new-found friends. He would have disarmed the suspicion of Spain, and the Guises[1501] to some degree, at least, if he had drawn close to the duke of Montmorency, whose moderate Catholicism, however impeachable, was not the detested heresy of the French Protestants. But instead of so doing, the King, unable to dissemble as much as his mother, openly manifested a great admiration for the admiral Coligny, than whom neither the Guises nor Spain had a more resolute foe. The admiral was received in Paris upon his arrival there early in September, 1571, with distinguished honors.[1502] His popularity[440] with the King was at once a menace and a challenge to Philip II and the Guises.[1503] An added difficulty, as the result of this policy, was that Catherine de Medici, seeing her son so well affected toward the admiral, grew jealous of the latter’s influence, lest it supplant her own, and intrigued against him.

Despite the failure of the marriage alliance, France still had two strings to the Ulysses bow she was drawing against Spain—support of the Dutch, and the union of France by means of the marriage of Henry of Navarre and the princess Marguerite. Spain’s suspicions that the Huguenot naval preparations at La Rochelle were in favor of the Dutch[1504] had not been based on groundless suspicion. William of Orange’s own brother, Louis of Nassau, had remained in France after the Peace of St. Germain, urging an alliance between France and England against Spain,[1505] or else French intervention in the Netherlands.[1506] The count of Nassau enlarged upon[441] the vast designs of the Spanish monarch and showed how sinister they were to France as well as Holland, artfully alluding to the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, “a peace dishonorable to France;” he dwelt upon the tyranny of Alva and the horrors of the inquisition; he demonstrated that all the inhabitants of the Low Countries, both Catholics and Protestants, hated the Spanish domination; that all the maritime towns were ready to receive French and Dutch garrisons, if but those of Spain could be driven out; that with the sea-power of France thrown into the scale, the Dutch could conquer Spain; and finally proposed the formation of an international league to overthrow Spain, and asserted that France might acquire Flanders and Artois and the empire Brabant, Guelders, and Luxembourg as reward of their services. So alluring was the prospect portrayed to Charles IX that he almost cast off the mask he wore of pretended friendship for Spain.[1507] He told Philip’s minister, Alava, than whom “there was no prouder man or one more disdainful in countenance”[1508] when the ambassador complained to the French King that certain ships of the prince of Orange were being harbored at La Rochelle,[1509] that “his master should not look to give laws to France.”[1510]


Meantime the proposed marriage of Henry of Navarre to Marguerite, the King’s sister, progressed. A full year before the nuptials were concluded, the jewels and apparel for the ceremony were already provided. The difficulty of arranging a religious form for the ceremony acceptable to both Catholics and Protestants was the great hindrance.[1511]

Again Spain made unavailing protest. Henry of Bourbon still bore the title of king of Navarre, though the kingdom had been lost to the house long before his birth and was, in fact, entirely in the possession of Spain. Her fear was lest the new bond of marriage[443] might unite the parties of France in war for the acquisition of Navarre. It was in vain, however, that Spain sought to prey upon the fears of Charles IX, endeavoring to excite the King’s jealousy against the growing power of the house of Bourbon and pointing out that of the twelve provinces of the kingdom ten were in the hands of governors who were bound by blood or interest to the Bourbons.[1512] So eager were many of the gentry of France for war with Spain, either in Navarre or Flanders, that one of Coligny’s officers, when asked whether France meant to lose the favorable opportunity of attacking Spain, scornfully rejoined, “What can we do? We are good for nothing, for we have to deal with a scared King and a timid queen, who will not come to any decision.” By December, 1571, war with Spain was on every lip and the government began to collect money.[1513]


At this juncture, when all Europe was keyed to concert pitch of political tension, when anything seemed likely to happen and no one of the great powers dared make an overt move, the Gordian knot was cut. On April 1, 1572, the most notable event in the Low Countries since the iconoclastic outburst occurred. For on that day the count van der Marck, commander of the Beggars of the Sea, captured the port of Brille. From that time onward the Dutch and Flemings had a maritime point of their own on the mainland and were no longer dependent on the precarious shelter of English and Norman ports. The effect of this blow to Spain was great. Within the week—on Easter Day—Flushing, and soon afterward Middelburg, rebelled against the billeting of Spanish troops sent by Alva to replace the Walloon garrison there.[1514]

The Gueux were masters of the sea and when Dordrecht also rebelled, the inland water routes were endangered too. No vessel could come from Holland, Guelders, or Frisia and no communication could be made from the north with Brabant. Even Amsterdam could be starved and Alva determined to retire all his forces to Ghent and Antwerp.[1515] On April 14 William of Orange issued a proclamation from Dillenburg expressing his grief at the miseries suffered from the exactions, outrages, and cruelties inflicted by the Spaniards, and assured the people of his determination to[445] liberate the land from their tyranny. As many towns and ports had already recognized him as their ruler, he urged others to follow their example, pledging his word to use all his power to restore the ancient privileges and liberties of each.[1516]

When news of these wondrous deeds reached France, Charles IX’s hesitation was swept away by the combined fervor of Louis of Nassau and the admiral. On April 19, the Anglo-French treaty of alliance was signed at Blois.[1517]

Du Plessis-Mornay, a young Huguenot gentleman of twenty-three, of marked literary ability and destined to be the intellectual leader of the Protestants in coming years, who had lately traveled through the Netherlands and visited England,[1518] in collaboration with the admiral drew up a remarkable memorial advocating French intervention in the Low Countries,[1519] which Coligny presented to the King. English and French volunteers soon poured into the land.[1520] Louis of Nassau left for Valenciennes,[446] which had successfully revolted, accompanied by La Noue and Genlis.[1521] On May 24, by a stratagem, Genlis secured possession of Mons, one of the most important fortresses to Spain in the Low Countries in the present state of mind that France was in.[1522] From this point of vantage he wrote hopefully to Charles IX for more soldiers, a “good minister,” a surgeon, some cannon founders, and drugs.[1523] While these events were happening on land, on the sea the Zealanders attacked and dispersed the Spanish fleet in the Sluys on June 8, and seized twenty merchantmen under its convoy:[1524] and, to the elation of France,[1525] far down in the Bay of Biscay the fleet of Flushing three days later scattered another of Spain’s armadas.[1526] All Holland, Amsterdam and Rotterdam excepted, was lost to Spain.[1527] Sir Humphrey Gilbert with 1,200 English and some French and Walloons landed in the Low Countries, on July 10, and captured Sluys and Bruges.[1528] Money poured in upon William of Orange, who in June went to Frankfurt to purchase supplies and enlist men.[1529] The duke of Alva was in desperate straits. The Walloons everywhere in the army mutinied and deserted, and he was short of munitions.[1530]


But such successes were too great to last. Louis of Nassau found he could not hope to hold Mons for long with the slender forces at his command and sent Genlis back to France for reinforcements. Charles IX, under pressure from Coligny, provided men and money secretly, but Genlis’ relief column was intercepted on July 16 and captured by the duke of Alva.[1531] It was only a question of time before Mons surrendered.[1532] The blow was a heavy one to France. It mattered little to France that French subjects were killed or taken prisoner during the siege. But it was of tremendous consequence to France that Alva found on Genlis’ person a letter written by Charles IX to Louis of Nassau on April 27, 1572, in which the King said that he was resolved as soon as the condition of affairs at home permitted him, to employ the armies of France for the liberation of the Low Countries.[1533] Well might Alva’s secretary write “I have in my possession a letter of the king of France which would strike you with astonishment if you could see it.”[1534] Spain possessed indubitable proof at last of French duplicity.


The capture of Genlis and the knowledge that Spain had penetrated the whole secret of her design, filled the French government with consternation, though Charles IX affected a show of courage he did not feel.[1535] That consternation became abject dismay when it was learned that Elizabeth of England, partially out of reluctance to have war with Spain, more because of fear lest French foothold in the Low Countries would jeopardize her commercial ascendency there, repudiated the treaty of alliance.[1536] As one reviews the months before the massacre one asks just how far Elizabeth herself may have been responsible for it. It was she who, by her tortuous and insincere policy alarmed Charles IX and Catherine, causing the Flanders expedition to be abandoned; it was this which caused Coligny to turn upon Catherine in the King’s council, saying, “This war the King renounced. God grant he may not find himself involved in another less easy to renounce.” The line comes straight from Elizabeth surely, but can be emphasized too strongly. That some blame must rest on the English cannot be denied, however. Did Catherine de Medici plan the massacre of St. Bartholomew to save herself from the wrath of the Huguenots? Or, in her terror did she seek to[449] appease the wrath of the Catholic dragon with human lives? Was the massacre of St. Bartholomew the bloody price of Spain’s satisfaction?

But there is another element to be considered in any endeavor to unravel the causes of that event. All the art of Catherine de Medici for years past had been expended in an endeavor to maintain control by balancing the parties against one another. At this minute she was insanely jealous of the admiral Coligny, whose political ascendency seemed all the greater because of the conduct of the Protestants who crowded Paris for the coming nuptials, enjoying their superficial popularity with too much arrogance in many cases, and angering the sentiment of the Parisians, the most Catholic populace in France.

The massacre seems primarily due to the jealousy and hatred felt by Catherine de Medici toward Coligny on account of his great ascendency over Charles IX, coupled with panic after the failure of her deliberate attempt to have him murdered, and fear of war with Spain—a fear all the greater because of England’s desertion of France in Flanders at this critical moment, lest English commercial ascendency there should suffer.[1537] It was a crime of fear, a horrible resource in a difficult emergency; partly a craven attempt to placate Spain for what had been done against her; partly a crime of jealousy. Perhaps jealousy of Coligny was even a stronger motive than fear of Spain. The attempt upon Coligny’s life on August 22, would seem to indicate this.[1538] Was the general slaughter of the Huguenots the consequence of the failure of this attempt? If the shot of August 22 had killed the admiral, would the massacre have taken place? I think not. The failure to kill the admiral was the immediate occasion of the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day. If Coligny had been killed then and there, the massacre probably would not have happened.


The failure to compass the death of the admiral made Catherine frantic with mingled rage and fear lest the Huguenots concentrated in Paris would rise in reprisal. She took council with Guise, Anjou, Madame de Nemours, and Gondi, the Italian bishop of Paris. The resolution of the King, who at first believed that the duke of Guise was the author of the attempted assassination, was beaten down by his mother, and when his fierce instincts were at last aroused, the way was easy. The hatred of Paris could be relied upon to do its worst, under the guidance of the provost who was taken into the plot.[1539]

There is no need to detail the history of this famous day. At one-thirty on the morning of August 24 the tocsin sounded from the tower of St. Germain-l’Auxerrois. Coligny was the first victim. From the Louvre the murderous spirit spread to the Ville, to the Cité, to the university quarter. Henry of Navarre and the prince of Condé saved themselves by abjuration. Montgomery escaped on a fleet horse to the south. Estimates of the dead are so different that any positive opinion is impossible. La Popelinière gives 1,000 for Paris, the Tuscan ambassador 3,000, Davila 10,000. Brantôme says nearly 4,000 bodies were thrown into the Seine.

From Paris the massacre spread to the provinces. On August 25 the fury reached Meaux and Troyes; on the 26th La Charité, on the 27th Orleans and Bourges, on the 28th Caen, on the 30th Lyons. Bordeaux and Toulouse followed. At Rouen, Carrouges, the governor, would not obey the King’s warrant until doubly convinced, when he retired to his country house and refused to execute it, though he did not have the courage to prevent the massacre, as was the case at Dijon, Limoges, Blois, Nantes.[1540]


There is no reason for doubting that the massacre of St. Bartholomew was unpremeditated. It was not plotted years before, or even many days before. The light of modern investigation[1541][452] has proved this to the satisfaction of every unprejudiced historian, whether Protestant or Catholic. The combination of causes that led to the action; the motives of the principals; the responsibility for the massacre are today known with as much certainty as moral forces having relative and not absolute values can be. Even unprejudiced contemporaries, La Noue and Henry IV himself, did not believe the massacre to have been premeditated. A general slaughter of the Protestants was an old idea, but never regarded as a practical one, save by the papacy. The guilt of the massacre in all its monstrous proportions and consequences rests upon Catherine de Medici first of all. Fundamentally considered, it was the crime of a tigerishly hateful and essentially cowardly woman’s heart. Catherine was the author and instigator of it. The Guises entered into the plot chiefly to avenge themselves upon the admiral and really had little interest in prosecuting it beyond[453] his death.[1542] The duke of Anjou and Tavannes were the fanatics. Charles IX was the creature of his mother’s malign influence and the victim of his own ferocious temperament which he had long indulged, and to which he now allowed monstrous license. For the rest the massacre of St. Bartholomew was perpetrated by men whose natures were compounded out of religious bigotry, political enmity, personal resentment or mere ruffianism and love of violence. The massacre of St. Bartholomew could not possibly have been of the remotest political benefit to any person. It was both a crime and a blunder. But Catherine de Medici was a ruler whose political conduct was governed by her personal feelings and prejudices. In the crisis in which she was, she had not the acumen to discern, or the courage to dare to follow, the course that lay open before her if she had had eyes to see and an understanding instead of a passionate heart. That course lay toward Italy and not toward the Netherlands. If France had reasserted her claims to Naples and Milan, then in the possession of Philip II, the nation would have been united in a common cause that would have appealed to ancient pride and achievement as well as existing animosity against Spain. England would have had no reason to be jealous, for her hand would have been free in Flanders. Moreover, in Italy France might have looked for support from Tuscany and Ferrara. Switzerland would have supported the enterprise; Venice would have made no opposition and the Emperor, for all his Spanish attachments, could not have done so. With the Turk in the Mediterranean on her side, France could have gone into war with Spain and the Pope without fear and with great promise of success.[1543]




The massacre of St. Bartholomew, like a bolt out of a clear sky, precipitated a new storm—the fourth civil war. La Rochelle was the storm center, though Sancerre and Montauban were rocks of safety for the Huguenots of the center and south of France, no less than three thousand Protestants and Politiques of Toulouse finding refuge in the latter place.[1544] When Charles IX’s murderous passion was overpast and reason returned, he attempted to avert a new war by offering favorable terms to the Rochellois.[1545] But when the town fortified itself and refused to trust the “favorable” terms offered by Biron and turned toward England for aid, the marshal was commanded to take the city by storm.[1546] The government was heavily embarrassed in its military preparations. Money was scarce and the rate of interest 15 per cent.[1547] Soldiers of judgment and experience pointed out that without either Swiss or Germans the King could not successfully batter the town, “for Frenchmen were not fit for the keeping of artillery, or to make the body of the ‘battle’ of footmen,” and the Swiss diet refused to let France draw more mercenaries from the Alpine lands. The King was equally unsuccessful in his endeavor to recruit footmen in Germany.[1548]


The enigmatical policy of Elizabeth was also a deterrant in the beginning of the war. While she sent the earl of Worcester into France in January, 1573, to treat of commerce and to dangle the prospect of her marrying Charles IX’s youngest brother, the duke of Alençon, before the eyes of the French court,[1549] the English queen did not turn a deaf ear to the petition of the Rochellois.[1550] If after the massacre there was less fear of strengthening France by giving aid to the Low Countries, on the contrary it became doubly necessary for England not to break with Spain, so that the policy of Queen Elizabeth was a timid and hesitating one.

When England’s policy was perceived to be so weak, the government pushed forward its military preparations against the city and the Italian artillery commander, Strozzi, in mid-December, took Marans, not far from La Rochelle, and put the garrison to the sword. But the Rochellois maintained the ramparts against all onslaught. The attacking army, under command of the duke of Anjou, lay in the dike under the curtain of the town walls, but could get no farther. To add to the discomfiture of the Catholics, the King’s army was in want of foodstuffs on account of the rising of the country roundabout, especially Poitou and Limousin.[1551]

The dearth, however, was more than local. The winter of 1572-73 was again a hard one, and though the spring of 1573 opened early and mild, there came recurrence of cold; so much so that processions were held, imploring the grace of God upon the fields where much of the grain was killed. The ensuing high[456] prices of grain were made higher owing to the fact that great amounts of it were stored by the dealers against the market. There were bread riots and popular tumults in various localities and many towns fixed a maximum price. This condition of things aggravated the state of war throughout the country. Multitudes of people crowded the towns. These refugees brought their possessions with them, their linen and household goods, their sheep and their cattle, which they were forced to sell for a song in order to buy bread.

The hard times also led to the migration of people from province to province and increased the vagabondage that already existed. The hunger was so great that men and women devoured vegetables, and even grain, raw. In consequence of the lack of food or the way in which it was consumed, suffering and disease ensued. Those who were fortunate enough to possess a garden plot with a few vines or fruits or vegetables were compelled to guard them by night and by day against the spoiler. It was considered an act of charity for those who had fruit trees, after themselves gathering the fruit, to permit those more wretched than they to strip the branches of their leaves and consume them. Paris suffered with the rest of France, for it was impossible to supply the city with food from the Beauce and Picardy and Champagne. Grain was imported from Spain and even from the Barbary coast, the timely arrival of six vessels, on one occasion, saving the capital from the pinch of famine.[1552] The “hard times,” which lasted more than a year, naturally bore heaviest upon the poorer classes, whose wretched condition contrasted with the luxury and vanity of the wealthier classes, with whom extravagance reached an extreme.[1553]


During the winter there was a complete cessation of hostilities before La Rochelle. Not a cannon was discharged all through the months of December, January, and February.[1554] In derision of the King’s camp, some of the more daring of the Huguenot soldiery strutted about adorned with cards and dice to signify that the King’s troops were better gamesters than soldiers.[1555] The truth is, Protestant France was not all of one mind to continue the resistance. There were two parties in the Huguenot capital, the irreconcilables, who wanted war to the knife and favored looking to England for support; and a more moderate faction led by that Bayard of the Protestants, the heroic La Noue, who, believing that the great enemy of France and of the Huguenots was Spain,[1556] with proper guarantees stood ready to forget and forgive the massacre, so far as it was possible for human memory and feeling to do so, recognizing that that event was a catastrophe to Catholic as well as to Protestant France; that, however monstrous it was as a crime, as a blunder its effects were even more calamitous.

As for the crown, it was even more anxious than the moderate Huguenots to avoid a protracted siege and come to some form of settlement.[1557] With this aim Charles IX, through the medium of the duke of Longueville, governor of Picardy, early in October had made overtures to La Noue, who was still in Flanders. After some hesitation La Noue came to Paris where he had a conference with the King and the queen mother. So trusted and so capable was he that Charles IX gave him practically discretionary powers to bring about a settlement, and in the middle of November La Noue went to La Rochelle.


For days the intrepid leader vainly endeavored to secure entrance into the city.[1558] Finally, on November 26 he was reluctantly admitted. During the cold and weary weeks of December, January, and February, while besieged and besiegers were lying on their arms upon the walls or in the trenches, La Noue alternately entreated and expostulated, urging the necessity of peace in the face of vilification, the Huguenot minister La Place even calling him “perfide traistre, déserteur de son parti.” “The word of the King,” said Catherine de Medici, to the deputies of the Reformed on one occasion, “ought to be sufficient for you.” “No,” replied one of them, “not since St. Bartholomew.”[1559] Even La Noue’s influence could not overcome the radical party in La Rochelle which imprisoned as many as advocated capitulation no matter what the terms might be. At last on March 12, 1573, the brave man gave up hope of persuading the zealot populace and returned to the King’s camp. Angry at the failure of these pacific overtures, the government forces redoubled their attacks. On March 22 the royal artillery opened a terrible fire upon the city, more than 1,500 cannon-balls being thrown. On April 7 there was a furious assault, even women fighting on the wall, and the attack was repeated on the 10th, 13th, and 14th, on the last day there being five separate attempts to take the city by storm.

Montgomery, who had been sent to England for assistance,[1560] appeared with about seventy ships, and was on the point of giving battle in the bay, when a fleet of forty vessels from the ports of Brittany and Normandy hove in sight. These ships, with what Anjou could muster, made too great a body for Montgomery to risk an engagement, and so he retired to Belle-Ile, which was made a Protestant naval base.[1561]

From Histoire au siège de La Rochelle en 1573, traduite du Latin de Philippe Cauriana (La Rochelle, 1856).


Meanwhile, the Swiss in camp had toiled in the trenches and “swamp angel” guns were established in the marshes to batter the port of St. Nicholas. On June 11 the supreme assault on La Rochelle was made and repulsed. The attacking force by an escalade gained possession of the rampart but found a mighty trench before them, so that they were constrained to beat their way along the rampart in the hopes of finding a place to cross it. Those in the camp, seeing their comrades gain the ramparts, cried, “ville gaignée!” But the Rochellois lured the enemy along the wall “and when they were entered set upon them both before and behind with such fury that they were all either slain or hurt, and the rest who were coming to succor the foremost were repulsed with great loss.”[1562]

After the failure of the great assault, because the soldiery without was so much discouraged by failure, angry for lack of pay,[1563] and weakened by losses and disease, the only recourse of the crown was to capitulate with the Rochellois[1564] with as much reservation as possible. Villeroy’s report on the condition of things before La Rochelle was too convincing to be ignored[1565]. In the first week of July, after two days’ deliberation, Charles IX signed the terms, although they were not published at once.[1566]

The general provisions were that those of La Rochelle should have life, goods, and liberty of conscience and that the town, together with Montauban, Sancerre, and Nîmes should also have “free[460] exercise of the religion and find a garrison for themselves.” The edict declared that the memory of all things which had happened since the 24th of August should be extinguished; that the Catholic religion was to be established throughout the country, except at the four cities named. Bailiffs and judges ordinary were to see to the decent interment of those who died in the Reformed religion. Those who gave security that they would change their religion should be admitted to the universities, schools, hospitals, without hindrance, and finally that any French Protestant might sell or alienate his goods and retire to any country he pleased, provided it were not to the territory of any princes where war obtained, a provision obviously intended to protect Spain in the Netherlands.[1567]

But the fourth war of religion was not yet entirely over. While La Rochelle with 2,000 men daily labored to repair its battered walls, Sancerre was not to be tempted by the terms, and the south of France still held out. The heroic resistance of Sancerre, perched like an eagle’s nest on a steep hill above the Loire, is one of the epic stories of the sixteenth century. For nearly eight months (January 3 to August 19, 1573) the city withstood every assault and only succumbed at last when reduced to direst famine. Horses, asses, dogs, cats, rats were all consumed. Soup made of boiled parchment became a luxury. The inhabitants ate “pain de paille haschée et d’ordorze y meslant du fumier de chevaux et tout ce qu’ils pensoient avoir quelque suc.” Even the bodies of the dead were disinterred and consumed. When human nature could endure no more, Sancerre threw itself upon the mercy of its conqueror. It was granted liberty of worship and the people spared from massacre and pillage for the price of forty thousand livres; but its mediaeval glory was shorn from it. The splendid clock-tower of the town was destroyed, its ramparts razed.[1568]

In spite of the pacification at La Rochelle and the fall of Sancerre,[461] the Midi still resisted. In Languedoc and Dauphiné the Huguenots were especially strong.[1569] Their harvests were garnered into walled towns; their army included 2,000 arquebusiers besides the Huguenot gentry and they were well prepared for further war.[1570] On the anniversary of the massacre (August 24, 1573) deputies of all the churches of the south convened at Montauban and took the preliminary steps in the formation of the great Huguenot confederation which in December assumed the direction of the war, the regulation of finances, civil administration, and religious protection.[1571]

Languedoc was divided into two governments with Montauban and Nîmes as centers under the authority of the viscounts of Paulin and St. Romain, each assisted and controlled by a council. The councils, in turn, in all important matters were required to consult the local assemblies of Protestants. All these assemblies were elective. The Protestant organization thus constituted an all but full-fledged state within a state, asserting its own power to lay taxes, to administer justice, to carry on war, and to make peace. It was estimated that 20,000 men in these regions were able to bear arms.

In consequence of the continuance of the war in the south the Swiss and the rest of the soldiery not yet licensed were sent from the camp before La Rochelle into Dauphiné and Languedoc. But the government was heavily embarrassed financially and had been compelled to resort to forced loans in Paris and the old shift of mortgaging the revenue until the grant of the clergy was made in[462] June.[1572] Even then it did not urge war. Charles IX, jealous of the Guises and of the military reputation which his brother had acquired, was again manifesting his hatred of the restraint imposed upon him, and desirous of recovering his independence.

The tendency of France was to return to its earlier policy which had been interrupted by the massacre.[1573] Charles again inclined to sustain Holland in its rebellion against Spain,[1574] at least underhandedly. To strike Spain was at the same time to strike at all the influences which he hated. Accordingly France made overtures anew to the prince of Orange, although it was not without repugnance that William of Orange brought himself to listen to them.[1575] But the voice of policy was stronger than sentiment.[1576] For on[463] December 11, 1572, the famous siege of Haarlem had begun. It was Alva’s purpose by the capture of this city to cut the communications between south Holland, where the prince of Orange was, and north Holland.[1577]

From Germany the faithful and far-sighted Schomberg earnestly urged the project and so artfully did he fulfil his mission that the elector palatine, the landgrave, and the archbishop of Cologne all espoused it.[1578] “The repose of the kingdom, the security of the state, the ruin of the great enemy of France, direct and firm alliance with the princes of Germany, the subversion of all the designs of the house of Austria, and the culmination of your desires, is in the hands of your majesty,” he wrote to Catherine on March 23.[1579] At last, after months of deliberation and delay, the threads of these tortuous negotiations were all drawn together at a secret interview of Catherine de Medici with Louis of Nassau at Blamont in Lorraine, in December, 1573.[1580]


But there was yet another reason why the crown of France was desirous of closing the conflict at home, which goes far to explain the government’s willingness to compromise with La Rochelle. The throne of Poland had become vacant upon the death of Sigismund Augustus, the last of the Jagiello house, on July 7, 1572. The crown of Poland was an elective one, the suffrage being in the hands of the diet, composed solely of the two privileged orders. In the factional strife that too often ensued, the deadlock was sometimes broken by the election of an outside prince. This vicious and unnational policy triumphed in 1573. The Emperor, the King of Spain, and France had each a candidate. But Poland had no mind to experience the fate of Bohemia and pass under the suzerainty of the Hapsburgs. Spain, too, in the person of her ambassador, was deprived of a hearing and compelled to make overtures in writing. In this wise the way was cleared for French diplomacy. In the autumn of 1572, Charles IX had been sounded by the Poles as to the candidacy of the duke of Anjou and had intimated the conditions to be expected.[1581] On December 19, the secretary of the bishop of Valence, the French agent who had been hastily dispatched to Poland, arrived in Paris, and gave great hope for the election of the duke of Anjou, though the Polish diet had not met yet on account of the plague.[1582]

When it convened on April 15, 1573, the dexterous feat was accomplished by the papal legate, Cardinal Commendone, who, for his spiritual master, was hostile to the Emperor for having lately made a three years’ truce with the Turks and thus marred the glory of Lepanto, and opposed in principle to the widening[465] of Spain’s activities anywhere, in view of the supreme struggle of the faith in France and the Low Countries, where the cause of Rome was in sore need of Spanish support. The French envoys[1583] then skilfully introduced the name of the duke of Anjou, lauding his Catholic virtues in the ears of a Catholic populace; promising that if elected Henry of Valois would spend all his revenues—how little these were the Poles could not know—in Poland for the benefit of the kingdom; they promised, too, that the prospective king would recover from the Muscovite all the territories whereof the kingdom of Poland had been despoiled in times past, as well as Wallachia from the Turks.[1584] The arguments told, and on May 19, 1573, the duke of Anjou was elected king of Poland.

On August 8, 1573, the official deputation of Polish nobles sent to France to notify the duke of Anjou of his election reached Metz, and soon afterward (June 24, St. John’s Day) arrived at Paris. They were the advance guard of almost two thousand Polish nobles and gentry who visited the kingdom during this summer. They were all magnificently lodged and entertained in the city at the expense of the crown, or rather at the expense of the people, for a new tax was imposed for purposes of entertainment. The appearance of the Poles struck the French with amazement. They were all tall, handsome men, “speaking Latin down to the very hostlers,” but marvelously given to drink and great gourmands. The wine-shops of the capital were almost drunk dry. Two Poles, the saying went, drank more wine and consumed more meat than six Frenchmen.[1585]


The honor of the crown of Poland salved the wounded pride of Anjou, still before La Rochelle. But the army murmured so much that a royal mandate was issued making it a misdemeanor to argue or to discuss the Polish election in the streets of Paris, or to discountenance the election of the duke of Anjou to the throne of Poland in written work or speech.[1586] Without victory, without pay, without even enough to eat, the soldiers grumbled to the point of mutiny and averred that the government was bribed, and took the Huguenot money in order to provide funds for the King’s trip to Poland.[1587] Henry dared not openly leave the camp for fear of their rebellion and was compelled to make a feint of going boating in the bay and then effect an escape by sea to Nantes.[1588]

Distance lent enchantment to the view. Poland was in a wretched condition through the dissensions of the nobility. The Emperor was angry and talked of stopping the duke en route.[1589] Lithuania seceded and entered into an alliance with the duke of Prussia, the king of Sweden, and Russia, to overthrow the Polish government.[1590] The Hanseatic cities, too, like Dantzig, Riga, and Revel, were very dissatisfied, for it was open knowledge that Poland aspired to the control of their commerce.[1591] The Poles[467] themselves soon discovered that their new king was a goose without a golden egg. For the French lawyers found an interpretation of the promise that the French would discharge the debts of the realm to the effect that the promise meant only those arising since the death of the late king. The Polish agents in Paris made wry faces at the finding, but so the agreement was registered by the Parlement of Paris on September 17, 1573.[1592] In the same month the duke of Anjou set out for his new kingdom, going via Nancy, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt to Cracow. Metz he avoided because the Emperor, still sullen and still smarting from the loss of the city twenty-one years before (1552), had commanded the imperial commissioners appointed to conduct him, to receive him in Metz as though it were a free city of the empire, which the French naturally refused to permit.

Again the foolish affection of Catherine de Medici for one of her children,[1593] again her political fatuity, threw France far off from the course she should have followed. As before the massacre, so now that course was the path to Italy.[1594] Instead of narrowing the field of her ambition for her children and concentrating her power, not content with Poland for the duke of Anjou, she even dreamed of the Hapsburg crown for Charles IX,[1595] and that of England for Alençon. Schomberg’s missions in 1572-73 to Germany[1596] were not merely to dispose the German princes in favor of France’s projected enterprise in the Netherlands, but also to persuade them, especially the electors of Cologne and the Palatinate, in favor of the French King’s imperial ambition. France’s policy in Poland[1597] and her policy in Germany were two[468] parts of one grand design and in a large sense had to stand or fall together. Peace with the Huguenots was an essential element in the forwarding of this project, especially with the Protestant German princes, as Schomberg pointed out.[1598]

But there were two great obstacles in the way of advance—German resentment because of the massacre of St. Bartholomew[1599] and the counter-diplomacy of Spain.[1600] The Guisard-Spanish party at home naturally exerted itself to thwart the prosecution of these designs.[1601] Morvilliers warned Charles IX that their continuance would involve France in a war with Spain.[1602]




The war in the south, during the months of these negotiations, had gone on in its own course almost unhindered by the government. Many of the men of service had gone with Anjou into Poland and many others, especially the Swiss, were licensed. In consequence the Huguenots made themselves masters of the Rhone, even seizing Avignon, to the great anger of the Pope, who refused to receive Paul de Foix as French ambassador to Rome on the double ground that he was of the Huguenot persuasion and because the French King would not give safe-conduct to troops from Italy to go to Avignon for the purpose of recovering it.[1603] After the departure of his brother for Poland, Charles IX weakly took up the Protestant issue again, and he and his mother spent three days at Chantilly with Montmorency in consideration of the course to follow.[1604] Deputations from various provinces came to the King to petition immediate reduction of the taxes on account of the exhausted state of the country, but there was a unanimous wish against calling another session of the estates on account of the expense.[1605] As an earnest of the King’s good intentions, the prince of Condé was made governor of Picardy, an office made vacant by the timely decease of the duke of Longueville, the prince, to the chagrin of the duke of Nevers who was an aspirant for the post, having recovered from the smallpox, with which the duke of Alençon also fell ill.[1606] The King had planned to convene deputies of the Huguenots of Languedoc and Dauphiné at least at Compiègne, but fell ill of smallpox[1607] and the project came to an[470] end.[1608] To add to embarrassments Paris and Rouen, where the populace were of the opposing religions, entered into war for the restraint of foodstuffs, Paris stopping all wine passing down the Seine and Rouen in turn preventing corn from passing up the river to Paris.[1609] The economic condition of the country gave the government great concern. Hard times and high prices still prevailed and the measures of the government only irritated things the more, though some of them were wisely meant. For example, in February, 1574, an edict of the King forbade the circulation of all foreign silver coin, as well as that which was mutilated or debased. When the merchants of Troyes learned of this condemnation of all foreign or cut coin, they sent a deputation to remonstrate with the King, saying that their town and the county of Champagne as well as all Lorraine and Burgundy abounded with this money and no other; and it was not possible to exclude these coins from the country without entailing ruin, if the edict were enforced. They further urged that the edict would act as a serious bar to traffic across the frontier. But the King refused to rescind the ordinance. In consequence, those familiar with money palmed off the forbidden currency upon the simpler folk, who found to their dismay that they had been cheated, when the King’s officers refused to accept these coins in payment of taxes. Nevertheless, in the long run, the action raised the standard of coin in France.[1610] Less wise action was the new sale of offices—those of the procureurs du roi—and it was even suggested that the office of advocate be made a salable one, but fortunately for the administration of justice, this was not done.[1611]


Popular suspicion was also attached to an ordinance commanding the governors of the provinces, through the bailiffs and seneschals, to take a census in their localities, giving the name, surname, and employment of all men between the ages of twenty-one and sixty. It was beyond the imagination of the people to know the reason of this action, or to divine what the King meant to do. Some thought that the crown was going to establish a local constabulary for the arrest of the numerous robbers and vagabonds, who, under the guise of war, looted and pillaged the country, and that men would be chosen in each parish like the francs-archers of the days of Louis XII and Francis I. Others thought that the King merely wanted to raise a new army to send into Languedoc where the Huguenots and the Politiques were now making common cause together. Others still thought that the device was one for taxing purposes.[1612]

Worst of all, however, was an event that happened late in December, 1573, which threatened to make the war general again. This event was the discovery of a plot to overthrow the Protestants in La Rochelle. The King seems to have been innocent of the project, and repudiated the government’s part in it. The author of the plot was La Haye, the president of Poitiers, who ingratiated himself with the people of the town and managed to secure some of his accomplices positions in the guard. The gate of the city was to be treacherously opened to a strong force secretly brought up under cover of darkness on the night of December 15. But on the day before, one of the company betrayed the plan to the authorities of the city.[1613] Tremendous indignation prevailed in Huguenot circles as a result of this disclosure. English merchants in Rouen, Dieppe, and the Norman ports for a time apprehended local massacres, for Montgomery was known to be in England.[1614] In the provinces, from day to day, news came of the doings of the[472] Huguenots. La Noue was in Lusignan; there were Huguenot movements in Poitou, Limousin, and Guyenne;[1615] again it was word from Sedan, the seat of the duke of Bouillon, that there was a suspicious rendezvous of Huguenots there; another time that there were 500 Protestant horse and 1,200 footmen assembled at St. Lô.[1616] The government was under apprehension lest suddenly, either at home some danger might assail France, or that abroad, by the actions of Germany and England, material assistance might be given to the Huguenots to carry their designs into effect, for the waters of the Channel and the Bay of Biscay swarmed with privateers.[1617] On February 25 the Reformed party issued a famous declaration “printed at Rochelle in diverse languages that the truth of our cause and purpose may be known to all Christians.” Finally, news of real material importance came that Montgomery, whom Guitery had joined, had landed near Coutances and marched to Carentan, which surrendered within two days. Since then Montgomery had taken various forts and castles, among them Argentan, and ten pieces of artillery.[1618] Charles IX immediately commissioned the sieur de Torcy, lieutenant-general in the government of the Ile-de-France and the viscount of Turenne to treat with him, making promise of favor and protection if he would lay down his arms. But Montgomery replied that the memory of St. Bartholomew was too fresh for him to do so; and for that matter he would have to refer the King’s terms to the body of the Reformed, of which he was only a member.[1619]


The Huguenots possessed a hierarchy of religious assemblies which served to unite their forces, through consistories, colloquies, and provincial synods, into a national body. Yet there was not an absolute uniformity in this organization. In the north of France each town maintained its own particular administration, separate and distinct. La Rochelle is a type of this kind and was fiercely jealous of its “franchises and liberties” after the manner of the German cities.[1620] In the south, however, these local governments fused to form the great association, which rendered possible the creation of a genuine Huguenot political state. This development was materially aided by the Politiques. For one of the results of the massacre of St. Bartholomew was the crystallization of the liberal Catholic element represented by the marshal Montmorency and his brother, Damville, into a real political party. It was composed of a group of young nobles, ambitious and ill satisfied, with whom politics was of more importance than religion, and who were hostile to the queen mother and to the Guises. Among them were the duke of Alençon, who perhaps dreamed of succeeding his brother, when Henry of Anjou was far away in Poland, for Charles IX’s days were evidently numbered; the young princes of Navarre and Condé, who had been driven to espouse Catholicism by terror, the viscount of Turenne and the whole house of Montmorency. Even in the camp before La Rochelle this faction of the Politiques laid its plots, endeavoring to put the fleet under command of the duke of Alençon, and probably upon the advice of the king of Navarre opened intercourse with La Noue.[1621] La Noue was persuaded that much[474] might be gained by the fusion of the Huguenots and the Politiques. The significance of this development must not pass unnoticed. The whole character of the war was ultimately changed by it. La Noue first, and later Damville, became the genius of this alliance. He negotiated with Damville, with Alençon, with Henry of Navarre. He sent Du Plessis-Mornay to England. But his greatest feat of diplomacy was the persuasion of the people of La Rochelle to adopt the new course. It required all the eloquence, all the charm, and all the strategy of a born leader of men to convince the hot-headed and impetuous Rochellois, but he finally succeeded, and the alliance was at last concluded between the Huguenots of religion and the Huguenots of state, the connecting link being the new party of the Politiques.[1622]

The Protestants and the Politiques speedily converted theories into practice in the south of France, where their confederation spread over all Languedoc and much of Guyenne. Two towns in each province were appointed as “Confederate towns.” Special parlements pronounced upon all law cases which arose between litigants of either group. Liberty of worship was recognized as sacred right and this de facto government even undertook the trial and condemnation of the authors of the massacre of 1572.

We get clear intimations of these new political ideas in the literature of the time.

In the last days of Charles IX a political treatise appeared entitled Du droit des magistrats sur les sujets, purporting to have been published in Magdeburg, which advanced the thesis that the kingship, although established by God, was a popular institution, and that, if the king were unfaithful to his office, he could be set aside.[1623] The Franco-Gallia of Hotman proclaimed the sovereignty of the people and the dependency of the crown upon its will. The same idea dominates the Junius Brutus of[475] Hubert Languet. Popular sanction, he says, alone makes the king; election is an inalienable right of the people to whom the king is responsible. A pamphlet inspired by the Montmorencys and called La France-Turquie compared Charles IX to the Sultan and accused him of endeavoring to reduce his subjects to eastern servility.

An incident that occurred at this time shows how far the idea of limited monarchy obtained among the Huguenots. In the course of one of the negotiations the prince of Condé was asked to sign a paper for his party. His reply was that he and the king of Navarre “had no other authority in that party than that which they had received with the articles of their election,” which did not attribute a monarchical power to them, the party being composed of a great number of the nobility and the third estate, who had given power to them.[1624]

Yet there was not complete homogeneity in the new order of things. The Politiques, except high nobles, and the rank and file of the Huguenots represented liberal democratic ideas. But the nobles could not forget their ancient lineage. The assemblées de généralité, created in 1573, included the chief members of the nobility, and although the third estate occupied an important place in them, the generals were all nobles.[1625] The nobility were not slow to resume their ancient superiority owing to the influence of the king of Navarre, who was not as pliable as the prince of Condé, particularly after the Huguenot alliance with the Politiques.[1626]

An enormous amount of provincial spirit had been aroused during the course of the wars. One of the speakers in the Reveille-matin speaks of the half-independence of Dauphiné, and points out the strong tendency to re-establish the ancient provincial organization. This theory of the Huguenots was in harmony with their constant assertion that they were restorers of the past, not revolutionists. Feudal traditions were too strong in France to be displaced by this new change. While the bourgeoisie[476] formed town groups, the Protestant and Politique nobles appealed to the provincial spirit. By a species of political atavism the régime of the Middle Ages began again to prevail.[1627] Every captain considered himself a petty sovereign. When the King ordered Montbrun to respect the majesty of the law, the haughty rejoinder was that arms made men equal in the game of politics. “In time of war when one carries a weapon in his hand and sits in the saddle, the whole world is comrade.”

The government accordingly made renewed endeavors to carry on the war. The provost of Paris was authorized on March 30 to make proclamation that all vassals and others in Paris belonging to the ban and arrière-ban, should assemble, fully equipped on April 15; all gendarmes were ordered to repair to the governors and lieutenant-governors of their several provinces, by April 20.[1628] Montpensier was sent into Anjou with instructions to do nothing against La Noue, but to keep the passages of the Loire and prevent him from joining with Montgomery. The hope was yet to arrange terms with the Huguenots and for that reason Strozzi, for whom La Noue had been exchanged after Moncontour, and Pinart were sent to La Noue, bearing credentials from Henry of Navarre, and Villeroy dispatched to Languedoc. Simultaneously emissaries were also sent to Sedan, for fear lest the prince of Condé and the duke of Bouillon might conspire with Louis of Nassau. East, west, south, the clouds of war hung over France.[1629] In the court intrigue and accusation were rife all this time. In February the duke of Guise feigned, or believed, that he discovered a plot to assassinate him, of which Montmorency was the author.[1630]


The absence of Henry of Anjou at this critical stage filled Catherine with alarm, and strenuous efforts were made to bring about a settlement. A secret agent of the queen mother named Pierre Brisson at this time tried to bribe La Noue by the offer of 10,000 écus de rente to retire to England. It must have been a great temptation, for already the intrepid leader was ruined by the war; but his nature was too noble to accept the terms. Charles IX for a season shook himself out of the apathy of mortal illness, while the Huguenots and the Politiques bent every endeavor to perfect their plans during the absence of the heir to the throne in Poland. The scheme was to declare Henry of Anjou deprived of his rights to the crown and to recognize the duke of Alençon as heir-presumptive with the title of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. Elizabeth of England[1631] and William of Orange were counted upon for influence and assistance. With this purpose a conspiracy was set on foot much like that attempted at Meaux in 1567. The duke of Alençon and the king of Navarre were to make their escape from court and effect a union with Guitery, chief of the confederates in Normandy. They were then suddenly to seize St. Germain and carry off the King and queen mother. The plot was that the king of Navarre, the duke of Alençon, and some of their gentlemen should go forth from the court on the morning[478] of this day as if to hunt, and ride toward Mantes, which was a town in the appanage of the duke, and garrisoned by a company of the marshal Montmorency under the command of a brother of Du Plessis-Mornay. The gate was to be opened upon their appearance.[1632] March 1, 1574, was the day set for the enterprise, but there was a misunderstanding between the leaders, and unfortunately, as in 1560, there were too many informed of it. Catherine had vague information, and was on her guard. But final failure was due to a false move of Guitery, who arrived upon the scene a day ahead of the appointed time, and with insufficient forces.

Success depended upon Guitery’s arriving at the hour of six on the morning of March 1 with 300 gentlemen and some footmen, but on February 27 the wild rumor was spread that there were some 700 or 800 horsemen of the religion seen within three leagues of St. Germain. Everybody made ready for flight “removing of stuff as if they had fled before an enemy.” In the morning the march was made in battle array to Paris, Charles being so weak that he could scarcely ride his mule.[1633]

At Paris, fearful of going to the Louvre, the King lodged in the house of De Retz in the Faubourg St. Honoré and then went to Bois de Vincennes. Failing in his purpose Guitery sought to cross the Seine at Mantes, probably with the intention of joining La Noue who, having taken Lusignan and other towns in Poitou, as unsuccessfully was endeavoring to cross the Loire to join Guitery.[1634] When the first alarm was over, the King and queen mother tried to make light of the episode. But it was a symptom the lesson of which could not be mistaken. It is plain that Charles IX and his mother feared greatly what Alençon might be planning, but he affirmed vigorously that he was only trying to escape from court.[1635] When questioned, he disclaimed any treasonable intent[479] or purpose to disturb the kingdom, but admitted his hatred for the court party and his sympathy for the Politiques. In a long harangue the duke accused the King of undue favoritism of his brother, the duke of Anjou. The ground of his reproaches seems to have been pique because of the fact that, while in camp before La Rochelle, affairs of importance were never discussed in his presence.

After the departure of the king of Poland, when he hoped to have more insight into public affairs, he had not been admitted, nor was he able to obtain the dignity and functions which had belonged to his brother. And these facts had lowered his reputation in the court to such an extent that the Guises not only desired to quarrel with him but were continually laboring to effect that result.[1636]

Further, Alençon complained

that the king and his mother threw difficulties in the way of his intentions in Flanders; and made use of such well-reasoned arguments that it was clear the case that he put forward had been prepared by persons possessing greater experience and knowledge than his capacity could pretend to have. But he did not reveal any names. He alleged that he would have to remain a poor prince unless by force of arms he could acquire a position whereby he might obtain a sufficient reputation to accomplish a marriage with the queen of England; that in France the authorities and powers enjoyed by his brother, the King of Poland, were not given him, and that what little power he had was only in name, while, on the other hand, the prince of Orange has sought his aid by very large offers and many great promises had also been made to him from Germany and England, and that in the kingdom of France many persons had pledged their word to follow his fortunes everywhere.[1637]

The Guisard faction and Biragues, the chancellor, in order to strike Montmorency, who with Damville was the leader of the Politiques, urged a drastic course. At the meeting of the King’s council, the chancellor said to the King:

You should take into account the continual fear for your own person, and the imminent ruin which threatens the whole kingdom given you by God, the governor; and these considerations without doubt should move your majesty to follow the example of King Louis XI, your ancestor, who was so renowned in history, and to cause the world to know that while your Majesty is full of clemency, so you can also punish when the occasion demands.[1638]


In view of the high estate of those involved, Catherine de Medici, however, refused to follow out this resolute policy. But both princes and Montmorency were kept under surveillance though nominally allowed their liberty. This Scotch verdict of “not proven” was a great disappointment to the Guises who probably are responsible for the “conspiracy” trumped up two weeks later. It was alleged that a plot had been “discovered” against the King and the queen mother which was to have been carried into effect on Easter Day. On April 8, Alençon, Henry of Navarre, and the marshal Montmorency, were together in the castle of Bois de Vincennes when suddenly the gates were shut and double guards set, for there was a rumor of the appearance of strange horsemen in the vicinity. At the same time the gates of Paris were closed and no one was permitted to pass out with any horse or weapon. La Mole, one of the gentlemen attached to Alençon, was suddenly arrested, and with him another gentleman of Alençon’s entourage, the count Coconnas. Both were imprisoned in the Conciergerie, and refused converse with the duke. The prince of Navarre, Alençon, and Montmorency, however, still were suffered to go abroad but “with such company as might be masters.”[1639] Things now rapidly passed from farce to tragedy. Alençon and Navarre would confess nothing,[1640] the latter showing “a very bold face without any fear of consequences.” The examination was with the purpose of acquiring colorable information from the inquisition of La Mole and Coconnas[481] in order to implicate the duke of Montmorency. The poor wretches had nothing of the divinity that hedged the princes of the blood and were inquisitorially examined and judicially murdered.[1641] The duke of Alençon in vain entreated for the lives of his friends. Charles IX, who was morbid and savage and stricken unto death[1642] would only allow that, instead of being executed in public, they should be put to death in prison.[1643] On April 30 La Mole and Coconnas were beheaded and quartered.[1644]

But for once the ascendency of the queen mother over the King was of good effect. Charles IX was urged to mete out the same penalty to his brother, the marshals Cossé and Montmorency, and Henry of Navarre. If it had not been for powerful intervention this might have been the case.[1645] Imagine the astonishment of the world that expressed surprise when Philip II imprisoned his son if such an act had been done! In the ferocious mood now become habitual with the King, such a thing is conceivably possible. But Catherine de Medici spared Henry of Navarre now, as in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, because the Bourbons were needful as a checkmate to the Guises. Such conduct, too, might have driven England and the German Protestant princes into active support of the Huguenots—a consideration[482] which had made Catherine hesitate before August 24, 1572. A living dog was better than a dead lion.[1646] “The King told that he should bear in mind that while the duke and Navarre were alive, he could do what he pleased, but if they were dead there would be no remedy.”[1647]

The real motive and animus of the whole cruel affair—the destruction of the Montmorencys by the Guises—was not long in forthcoming. Hitherto the duke had been allowed guarded freedom, even to go hunting. But within a few days after the death of La Mole and Coconnas came word of the capture of Damville, Montmorency’s brother, in Languedoc. Immediately the duke of Montmorency and the marshal Cossé were shut up in the Bastille. The ancient and bitter grudge of the Guises against the Montmorency-Châtillon house, half of which had been paid in the murder of the admiral, narrowly missed being sated at this hour. In the blood-thirsty mood in which the King was, the purple of kingship probably would not have protected[483] the duke. But at heart Charles IX and his mother were craven cowards, and the latter, at least, was not wholly lost to prudence. Fortunately for the duke of Montmorency and for France, the word of Damville’s capture was a false report. He had intercepted the instructions sent to Joyeuse and the governor of Narbonne for his apprehension and taken his precautions. Damville was too great a lion to rouse the anger of, while he was at large, and nothing but treachery could overthrow him, for he was in possession of Beziers, Montpellier, Pasenas, Beaucaire, Boignelles, and Pont St. Esprit, and as leader of the united Politiques and Huguenots of the south, in control of Languedoc, Dauphiné, and Provence.[1648]

The great political anxiety he labored under aggravated the condition of Charles IX, whose constitution, undermined by smallpox and his indulgences, had now been attacked by consumption. He was reduced to skin and bone and so weak that he could not stand and suffered from effusion of blood through the mouth.[1649] But the ferocity of his nature remained unsubdued. The faculty of medicine, the members of which were called in consultation, pronounced the King’s condition hopeless. “I believe you speak truly,” was Charles’ comment on the verdict. “Draw the curtain down that I may have some rest.”[1650] On the[484] night of May 29 a violent hemorrhage foretold the end. The King died on May 30, 1574, at two hours after noon.[1651]

The queen mother at once assumed the regency[1652] in compliance with one of the last commands of Charles IX, and removed from the Bois de Vincennes to the Louvre, where Alençon and Navarre were kept under close scrutiny, for until the return of Henry from Poland there was great uncertainty as to what might happen. The two were without money to corrupt the guards if so dangerous an expedient were hazarded; the windows of their chamber “grated like a prison.”[1653] Catherine’s policy was to promise redress of grievances and reconciliation of all at the coming of Henry III, who learned of his brother’s death at Cracow on June 15.[1654] To that end she appealed to La Noue and Damville but the Iron Arm flouted her overtures from his strongholds of Lusignan and Niort, condemning the queen for her treatment of Montmorency,[1655] and the imprisonment of Alençon and Henry of Navarre.


Relates to the pay of his troops. Written from Lyons, September 20, 1574, within a few days after his arrival in France from Poland. Original owned by the author.


Regrets his inability to visit Switzerland on his way to France, and assures them of French protection. Written from Mantua, August 3, 1574. Original owned by the author.


The last stage in the eventful career of Montgomery was also reached at this time. He had suddenly left Carentan with about 650 horse, attacked the city of Alençon and then attempted to raise the siege of St. Lô. But Matignon had more forces than he had supposed and drove him into Domfront. After a vigorous defense he yielded the place upon the promise that his life would be spared. But Catherine de Medici hated him above all men in the earth and had no scruples about inaugurating the reign of Henry III with bloodshed. She refused to honor Matignon’s pledge.[1656] Montgomery was brought under heavy guard to Paris, being viewed by curious gazers all along the road, and was beheaded and then quartered on June 26, before an enormous crowd of people.




The attention of Europe was fixed upon France by these events. What was going to happen in the absence of the heir to the throne? Would a frightful wave of retaliatory vengeance for the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the process of Vincennes sweep over the land? These were the questions that were asked, not only everywhere in France, but in many quarters of Europe. The Tuscan ambassador wrote that the châteaux of the Montmorencys were filled with provisions and munitions of war.[1657]

The Politiques, as a class, being imbued with Hotman’s teachings in the Franco-Gallia, inveighed against Catherine for having assumed the regency without consent of the estates. They and the political Huguenots were at one, and demanded searching reform. It was their hope to prevail upon the queen mother to come to a definite agreement before the arrival of Henry III in France, in the expectation that the King upon his arrival would find it expedient to accept it. They demanded the reorganization of justice and the army; they condemned the alienation of the crown lands, increase of the tithe, and the new taxes; they insisted upon an examination of the accounts of those who had managed the public finances and the royal revenue, this investigation to include not only the ministers who had enriched themselves, but also the superintendents of finance from Henry II down to the present time, not excepting the cardinal of Lorraine. They demanded the expulsion of the “foreigners,” naming the chancellor Biragues, the marshal de Retz, and the duke of Nevers who were all Italians. They hated the Guises as a foreign house and quasi-German.[1658]

It was high time for some sort of settlement. The country[487] was crying out against the thieves and brigands, who frequented the roads in great numbers under the guise of war and pretended to be in the service of the King.[1659]

But Catherine refused to deal with any matter of state until the arrival of the King. She showed an almost feverish anxiety for her son’s coming, fearing that the duke of Alençon would be put forward for the crown by the Politiques.[1660] In Germany, at the same time, the Orange party, with the aid of Schomberg, labored to promote the cause of the Politiques and liberal Huguenots, and in September a deputation came from the count palatine to urge the cause of toleration in France.[1661] But it was slow and hard work, for as La Noue had bitterly said the year before: “The iron of the German nation was heavy and hard to work; it was silver that made things move.”[1662] Moreover, the agents of Spain and the Guises were encountered at every turn.

In the meantime Henry III had left Cracow on June 16, running away from his kingdom like a thief in the night,[1663] and came home[488] by way of Italy, via Venice, where he was extravagantly entertained by the senate,[1664] Ferrara (July 29), Mirandola, Mantua, and Turin, which he left on August 28, and arrived at Lyons on September 6.[1665] Catherine, who showed great impatience, met him there (she arrived at Lyons on August 27). So fearful was she lest Alençon and Henry of Navarre would escape that the young princes had traveled in the coach with her.[1666] The procession moved as if through a hostile country by way of Burgundy and Chalons-sur-Saône, some of the guard marching in advance, the rest bringing up the rear. “Marshal de Retz was always on the wing of her. Some of the guard marched two leagues before and some two leagues after.”[1667]

Those who were at all optimistic had clung to the belief, until the development of events shattered their hopes, that Henry III would endeavor to pacify his subjects, arguing that if he were inclined to war, he would not have refused the assistance proffered him in Italy of men and money, and that the French crown could not further hazard the reduction of the kingdom piecemeal.[1668] Damville had met the King at Turin, having come there under a safe-conduct of the duke of Savoy, to persuade Henry III to adopt a conciliatory policy, which he at first inclined to follow.

But the moment he came under the sinister influence of Catherine de Medici, he cast this prudent advice to the winds. It was[489] she who dissuaded him from what was wisely counseled[1669] and in advance of his arrival had made military preparations to resume the war by importing Swiss mercenaries and German reiters again.[1670] Accordingly, instead of extending the olive branch, the King expressed his determination to wage unremitting war upon the Huguenots and Politiques rather than grant the demands they made. The deputies of La Rochelle who came to Lyons, requesting a surcease of arms, were repulsed by the King and told it was but a scheme of the Huguenots to gain time for preparation. The establishment of three camps was ordered, one in Dauphiné, the second in Provence and Languedoc, and the third in Poitou. At the same time Schomberg and Fregoso were sent into Germany for assistance.[1671]

When Henry III definitely resolved to follow out a policy of suppression Damville was summoned to Lyons to answer for his governorship. It was a fatal blunder on the part of the King, for the action of the crown hardened the tentative co-operation of the Protestants and the Politiques into a positive alliance. At Milhau, in August, 1574 the Protestants recognized Damville, while he in turn admitted their leaders into his council. The form of government established at Montauban the year before acquired new strength and greater extent. Provincial and general assemblies were formed without distinction between Protestants and Politiques, upon the basis of mutual toleration; in places where[490] the two creeds obtained each side promised to observe the peace and Damville engaged not to introduce the Catholic religion in any town of which the Huguenots were masters.

The men who took this step justified it by alleging that a foreign faction had acquired control over the sovereign; that it was destroying the kingdom, the nobles, the princes of the blood, and with them the very institutions and civilization of France; and that it was their hope to arrest this process. The programme of the Huguenot-Politique party, in addition to complete religious toleration, insisted upon the abolition of the practice of selling offices, the convocation of the States-General, the reduction of the taxes. In this demand they were supported by the provincial states of Dauphiné, Provence, and Burgundy. The confessional idea was deliberately kept in the background. Men no longer talked of a war of religion, but of a “Guerre du Bien Public” as in the reign of Louis XI.

With the nobles Damville’s was a name to conjure with. A large portion of the Catholic nobility, who for a long time had been severely reproached for not seriously opposing the Huguenots, sympathized with his attitude. If the bench and bar of France was strongly attached to the principles of the Catholic religion, the nobility who were hereditary enemies of the legists, whose teachings had for three centuries tended to abridge their feudal rights, out of sheer self-interest, aside from any other motives, now inclined toward the Calvinists. Only radical Calvinists, like Du Plessis-Mornay, opposed the union and were bitter in denunciation of the overtures made by their more moderate brethren, notably La Noue, to Damville and the Politiques.[1672]

A royal edict let the Huguenots understand what was to be expected. The King’s determination was to clear the valley of the Rhone from Lyons to Avignon with the aid of the Swiss and then to subdue Languedoc on the one side and Dauphiné on the other. Such a plan was more bold than practicable, and Henry was likely to find it too hard to accomplish, especially by winter[491] sieges. The Protestants had fortified themselves in Livron on the left bank of the Rhone and at Pouzin across the river, which was inaccessible except by one approach and then only four men could advance abreast.

But there was another matter, the difficulty of which Henry III underestimated, namely the army. The Protestants were so entrenched in their strongholds as to make the use of horsemen against them impracticable. The Swiss were low-class mercenaries, good as ordinary footmen but useless for a siege. Moreover, all of them, reiters and Swiss, were not disposed to move unless they saw their pay in their hands and were utter strangers to discipline, wasting the country “to make a Christian man’s heart bleed.”[1673] In one case the wretched peasantry followed their despoilers to the confines of Lyons and fell upon them in desperation, recovering what had been taken from them. What did the King do? He actually had to punish these wretched subjects of his in order to retain the services of the reiters at all!

Yet the King for a moment showed some of the old fire he displayed at Moncontour and amazed the Protestants by taking Pouzin after three weeks of siege. The victory was marred, though, by the shameful conduct of the Swiss, the reiters, and the Italians in the royal army, who sacked and burned it. Much the same state of things prevailed wherever these riotous plunderers penetrated—in Picardy, in Champagne, in Poitou. But Henry III having reached Avignon, discovered that he was no better off for his success. Meanwhile Damville, with whom the duke of Savoy had honorably dealt, returned from Turin, and reached the vicinity of Montpellier and Beaucaire before the King was aware of it.[1674]

When the King sent the cardinal of Bourbon to talk with him, Damville sent back word that he thought the example of his brother “too dangerous to come to court where they who sought the ruin of his house had too much credit,”[1675] and advised the King to remove[492] the strangers within his gates, meaning Biragues and De Retz.[1676] Henry III could accomplish nothing at Avignon and yet knew not how to get away. He could not go up-river on account of the current. The Huguenots at Livron barred the road on the left bank; Montbrun was in the hills in Auvergne; La Noue’s men were stopping the King’s post daily and Damville controlled Provence and Languedoc; La Haye, King’s lieutenant in the séné-chaussée of Poitou seceded to the Politiques.[1677] Vivarais declared its neutrality and refused to side with King or Politiques. The people of Tulle refused to pay taxes either to Catholics or Protestants until overpowered by the latter, and thus the country continued to endure a war which it hated. Henry truly was in a plight. He was without money, too, and could not hope to get any so far from Paris. He even feared that the soldiery with him might be bribed to desert.[1678] To crown the royal anxiety Damville’s declaration was so public and so bold that the King feared that foreign aid would soon be forthcoming in the Protestant service. The fear was not without ground. For the marshal actually proposed to make a league with the Sultan and introduce a Turkish fleet into the harbor of Aigues-Mortes.[1679] Coupled with this possibility was a projected enterprise against Spain in Franche-Comté in which the Huguenots of Champagne and Burgundy were interested, but which was primarily the project of the elector palatine and the prince of Orange.[1680]


It is a significant fact that the war has now lost almost all confessional character and become a factional conflict between the rival houses of Guise and Montmorency. Catholicism and political corruption on the one hand were opposed to administrative reform and religious toleration. After the creation of the Politique party, the Huguenots of state had merged with them. Except in the case of radical Calvinists and bigoted Catholics, religion had become a minor issue with the French unless it were artificially exaggerated.[1681] It was a mortal enmity on either side, and one which there was slight hope of settling. The hostility of the Guises and the Montmorencys was the real seed of the civil war.[1682] It depended upon the individual in almost every case whether his participation one way or the other was motived by convictions as to the public good or by private interests. The number of those who directly or indirectly were attached to the warring houses almost divided the realm between them and the wretched people were badly treated by both parties.[1683] So widespread and deep rooted was this mutual enmity throughout France, that the Venetian ambassador, no mean observer, wondered when it would end, because it was to the interest of each to sustain it. The King was a shuttlecock in this game of political battledore. The ruin of the crown, instead of being feared by them, was regarded as a possible[494] way to give their enmity freer rein. Each party counted not only upon paying its debts, which were enormous, by victory, but in establishing the power of its house more permanently than ever for the future. While the war cost the King and the country écus par milliers, it cost them nothing, at least of their own. The weakness of the crown was the strength of the rivals. They fattened on war, for peace deprived them of their authority, their power, and their partisans. Until one or the other faction was crushed, the hostility was certain to endure, and thus the war seemed doomed to last indefinitely. If, as the result of fatigue or a truce, a respite was made, the time was brief, and was terminated as soon as one or the other side had accumulated some substance again. The only remedy for such a state of affairs was to be found in a foreign war, either in Flanders or Italy.[1684]

The union of the Huguenots and the Politiques made them very strong, especially in the south. But on the other hand the duke of Guise received much assistance from Flanders. When the successor of Alva, Requesens, learned of the death of Charles IX, he had offered the aid of Spanish troops to Catherine de Medici.[1685] Although the proffer was declined, the practical result was the same, for owing to lack of pay in the Low Countries, thousands of reiters and Walloon and German footmen flocked across the border in the summer and autumn, where they were welcomed by the duke of Guise, who, somewhere and somehow, found the means to pay them.[1686] But below the stratum of professional soldiers in France there was another class in arms which feudal society was not used to see in such a capacity. This was the people; not town militia, for town and provincial leagues had made men familiar with them, but the peasantry. The protracted wars by economically ruining and morally debauching this class had[495] generated a breed of men who sprang from the soil like the dragon’s teeth of Greek fable, men who by observation and practice were used to the matchlock and the sword, brutalized by oppression, long made desperate by burdensome taxes and the wrongs of war.[1687]


(Tortorel and Perissin)

The weariness of vigil in the depth of winter and overconfidence seem to have relaxed the alertness of Henry III’s foes. At any rate, having extorted 50,000 francs from the noblemen and gentlemen in his train in order to pay the soldiery around him, the King, raising the siege of Livron on January 24, 1575, managed to slip through the defiles to Rheims for his coronation. The coronation[496] was a triumph of the Guises. For far from being set back by the death of the cardinal of Lorraine on December 29, at Avignon[1688] their star seemed to be higher than before. The cardinal of Guise took the place of his deceased uncle as primate of Rheims; the duke of Guise was grand chamberlain; and the duke of Mayenne and the marquis d’Elbœuf were the chief lay peers. The sole outsider was De Retz who officiated as constable for the occasion. The crowning took place on February 15. Shortly after the event, apparently in a sudden whim of passion, Henry III married Louise de Vaudmont, whose father was uncle of the duke of Lorraine and whose mother had been sister of the unfortunate Egmont. But the marriage was without political significance—indeed the new queen was of so little station that Catherine de Medici, in a letter to Queen Elizabeth, expressed her humiliation at her son’s marriage.[1689]



(Tortorel and Perissin)

The main issues of France, religious toleration and political reform, were now more obscured than ever by the rivalry of the factions around the throne. The queen mother bore the Guises greater hatred than before because of their new ascendency and had little less spleen toward the Montmorencys, but carefully dissimulated and sought on one pretext and another to remove them from around her son. For this purpose Bellegarde, who was an old attaché of the house of Montmorency and owed his popularity with the King to a handsome face and a well-turned leg, was made a special ambassador to Poland in order to get him out of the way. His comrade on the mission was Elbœuf—an ill-matched pair indeed. Their business was to carry 200,000 crowns of the Paris bourgeois to Poland to bribe the Polish diet not to elect a successor to the absent Henry. If the Poles were obdurate, Elbœuf was to advocate the election of the duke of Ferrara, who had Guisard blood in his veins. At the same time Biron and Matignon were made marshals to counterpoise the influence of De Retz who forthwith resigned his office and vowed he would “meddle no more.” There were heart-burnings, also, over the[498] bestowal of the government of Normandy, vacated by the death of the duke of Bouillon. The duke of Nevers claimed that it had been promised him while in Poland; the duchess of Nemours demanded the post for the duke and declared that Nevers was “a foreigner.” Henry III finally sought to compromise by giving the office to his insignificant father-in-law, whereupon the duke of Nevers quit the court in a rage. Squabbles of precedence, too, vexed the King’s mind. Montpensier challenged the claims of the Guises to court precedence before the Parlement, and Madame de Nemours therefore quarreled with her daughter. “They were all bent to preparations of war,” quaintly wrote Dale to Walsingham, “but these domestic discords do tame them. It is a very hell among them, not one content or in quiet with another, nor mother with son, nor brother with brother, nor mother with daughter.”[1690]

The state of the finances was deplorable, and Henry resorted to various devices to provide himself with funds. The mission of Elbœuf and Bellegarde to Poland was delayed, while the King implored the Pope, the duke of Savoy, and Venice for the money needed;[1691] the pay of the King’s household servants was nine months in arrears and the last money wages of his guards had been paid by an assessment levied by the King upon the noblemen and gentlemen of the court. Paris, as usual, was heavily mulcted by a forced loan of 600,000 francs, besides heavy contributions extorted from the foreign merchants there. But the mass of the money had to come from the church lands. A letter-patent in the form of an edict was forced through the Parlement authorizing the alienation of 200,000 livres de rente of the temporalities of the clergy, the King reckoning to raise a million and a half of francs by the process, but few were ready purchasers. In addition to these practices the “parties casuelles” were farmed to a Florentine money-broker named Diaceto for 60,000 francs per month. Henry III resorted to worse expedients than these, though. He sold four seats in his council for 15,000 livres each; forced the collectors of the revenue to anticipate the revenue for a twelve-month and then dispossessed[499] them of their posts after he had deprived them of the profits thereof and sold them to others; and dilapidated the forest domain by selling two trees in each arpent.[1692]

The position and conduct of Damville afforded the greatest hope for the future if Henry III could have been made to see things in the right way. Damville himself dominated all Languedoc and Provence; his lieutenant, Montbrun, controlled Dauphiné; Turenne was in possession of Auvergne; the Rochellois had agents at court seeking for a firm settlement of affairs; even the cardinal Bourbon and the duke of Montpensier leaned to the side of the Politiques. In 1575 the existence of the old party of Huguenots, the Huguenots of religion, was practically at an end. Individual radical Calvinists there were in plenty but the Protestant organization was that of the political Huguenots.

It was manifest by the spring of 1575 that the prince of Condé and Henry of Navarre on the one hand, and Damville and his brother, together with Alençon, were bound to join hands in the common purpose to establish permanent religious and greater civil liberty in France. “Liberty and reform” was the policy of the hour, if not the watchword. The declaration of the assembly of Milhau in August of the previous year had been the handwriting on the wall—a message which the misguided Henry III obdurately refused to read. On April 25, 1575, that message was repeated in even clearer terms in the form of a manifesto issued by Damville which defined the joint policy of the Politiques and the political Huguenots. It was the declaration of a patriot, and not a partisan, least of all a rebel, who, like Cromwell, found himself compelled to lead a movement for political reform against an obstinate crown that either would not or could not understand the issues.[1693]


Reading between the lines of the constitution agreed upon at Nîmes, the republican nature of the government therein provided for is noticeable.[1694] The right to exercise the sovereign rights of legislation, of justice, of taxation, of making war and peace, of regulating commerce no longer were vested in the King where the Act of Union prevailed, but in a representative body. Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphiné were de facto independent of the crown.[1695] Supplementary articles of Condé and Damville, and of the Catholics and Protestants of Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphiné demanded (1) that freedom of exercise of religion without distinction be permitted; (2) that the parlements should be composed half of Catholics, and half of Protestants, the latter to be nominated by the prince of Condé; (3) that justice be done upon the authors of the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the forfeit and attainder of the admiral be reversed; (4) that the places at present held by the Huguenots be retained besides Boulogne and La Charité, and that for additional defense the King should give them in each province two out of three towns to be named to him by the prince of Condé; (5) that the King pay 200,000 crowns for expenses of the war; (6) that neither the marshal de Retz, nor the chancellor Biragues should have any part in the negotiations for peace; (7) that the duke of Montmorency and the marshal Cossé should be set at liberty, and their innocence declared in full Parlement “en robe rouge;” (8) that the heirs of those who have been murdered should have their estates returned to them; (9) that the queen of England, the elector palatine, and the dukes of Savoy and Deuxponts[501] should be parties to the peace; (10) that within three months after peace the States-General be assembled to establish good order in France.[1696]

For a while there seemed to be a prospect of the King yielding to these demands. He was growing jealous of the influence of the Guises, and began to perceive that coercion was impossible.[1697] At the first audience Henry received the deputies graciously, saying he “liked their speech, but their articles were hard.” The articles were debated seriatim by the King, both with the deputies and with the council. The chief hitch was upon the fourth demand. The King was willing to permit exercise of Protestant worship in one town in each bailiwick, except closed towns, whereas the deputies demanded freedom of worship in all places in the suburbs as provided by the Edict of January. As a matter of prudence, it would seem to have been better policy for the crown to permit worship in the suburbs of all towns rather than exact a provision requiring concentration of the Protestants in one place in each bailiwick; however, the King probably thought Calvinism would be less likely to spread under such a restriction than if the Huguenots enjoyed numerous places of worship.[1698] The queen mother sought to persuade Montmorency to use his influence to abate the demands with promise of release from the Bastille as his reward. But the duke replied that “if his imprisonment might do the King pleasure or profit he was content to be there all his life; but to meddle in the peace, or to write of that matter, never understanding their doings, were to make himself guilty in it, and to be thought to make himself to be an instrument to their ruin, and therefore it were ill for him.”[1699] Thereupon Henry III broke off the negotiations hoping still, as earlier, to be able to separate the Huguenots and the united Catholics.


Events thereafter thickened rapidly. Narbonne, Perigueux, and Tournon in Lyonnais were taken by the Huguenot-Politique armies. The last place was got by Damville himself. Tournon was an especially strong town on the Rhone about three leagues from Valence, with Livron to the south of it. The capture so discouraged the duke d’Uzes that he requested leave to resign on account of the desertions among his following.[1700] Instead command was given him, “to spoil Languedoc in order to famish them against winter.” But the duke was too wise to obey and Damville was permitted to gather in the harvest without molestation. For if the King had tried ravaging, the whole country would have risen against him. St. Jean-d’Angély, Angoulême, and Nérac revolted so far as to expel the garrisons in the town. In Burgundy, where Tavannes had founded the League of the Holy Spirit, a Politique league was formed.[1701] The narrow escape Damville had at this time from death by poison drew men more than ever to him. As a climax to the woes of Henry III on July 15, 1575, the Polish diet declared the throne vacant, absolving all from allegiance to him.[1702]

The spontaneous nature of the rising of the country in the summer of 1575 is an interesting historical phenomenon. It was by no means confined to the south of France. In Champagne, the nobles, some of them vassals of Guise, and peasants united to fall upon the reiters. Madame de Guise fled from Joinville in fear of being surprised by a sixteenth-century Jacquerie. In Brittany there was a similar stir when the King attempted to confiscate the extensive lands of the duke of Rohan upon his death. Certain things remind one of happenings in the French Revolution. Many in Champagne left the land and went into the borders of Germany like the “émigrés” after August 4, 1789. In Paris there were house-to-house visits not unlike those of September, 1793. There was universal feeling against the reiters. In Normandy an association[503] of gentlemen was formed for the special purpose of protecting the country from them.[1703]

The anxiety of the government was all the greater because it was not exactly known what relations existed between the Huguenots and Politiques and the English. The treaty which had obtained between Charles IX and Elizabeth was renewed by the latter on April 1, 1575, and confirmed by Henry III on May 4.[1704] But Elizabeth was not the person to be bound by official word. On the Picardy-Flemish border mutual distrust prevailed. In December, 1574, Requesens had advised Philip II of his fear of the renewal of Huguenot activity in the Low Countries, which had been dead since the Genlis disaster,[1705] and the garrisons on the frontiers had been increased accordingly. The marriage of Henry III to Louise de Vaudemont gave the Spanish governor great inquietude, for the unfortunate Egmont was her uncle, and Egmont’s eldest son, in March, visited his royal cousin of France.[1706] Requesens was apprehensive, too, of a marriage between the duke of Alençon and the daughter of William of Orange,[1707] and over the fact that the French envoy in Flanders, the sieur de Mondoucet, prudently avoided using the official post, but employed his own couriers in dispatching missives to Paris.[1708] “All the neighboring states are actuated by malicious intentions,” he wailed to Philip II.[504] “The French and the English are in correspondence, and both are inspired by the same spirit of hostility against the Catholic religion and against your majesty, as the sole protector thereof.”[1709]

The arrest of a secretary of Montmorency at Boulogne in March, as he arrived from England, and who admitted he was going to find Damville,[1710] coupled with the absence of the prince of Condé and Charles de Meru, the youngest Montmorency, in Germany, so disquieted the King that early in June Schomberg was dispatched across the Rhine to discover what Condé was doing; if he found that levies of cavalry were being made for service in France, he was instructed to enroll 8,000 soldiers for the service of the King.

Schomberg proved a good agent, for he shortly afterward wrote that he believed a secret engagement existed between Queen Elizabeth, some of the German princes, and the enemies of the French King at home; and that Condé, having expended 30,000 crowns, had raised 8,000 cavalry which might be expected to arrive at the frontier by the middle of August, although it was given out, and believed by some, that these reiters were intended for service in the Netherlands.[1711] On the strength of these suspicions, especially[505] when the duke of Guise sent word in the first week of September that 2,500 reiters had crossed the Rhine, the English ambassador, Dr. Dale, who hitherto had lodged in the Faubourg St. Germain, was advised to remove into the city, ostensibly for his greater security, but really to prevent him from receiving unknown persons secretly at night, as was possible where he resided.[1712]

At this juncture, when everything was tense and everybody was on edge, the duke of Alençon managed to make his escape from the court (September 15). While not actually confined, like the duke of Montmorency, he and Henry of Navarre had both been kept under continuous surveillance for months and various efforts made by them to get away had failed. Dismay prevailed at court when the escape was known. The King was “as a man out of courage,” and betook himself to extravagant religious demonstration, as before, when at Avignon, “going from church, as though deserted by all his people.”[1713] He knew that his brother’s presence would draw many of the gentry, who were yet hesitating, to the ranks of the Politiques.[1714] He had no means to levy an army, nor the resources to sustain it.

In this crisis Catherine de Medici kept the clearest head of all at the court. While she sought to wheedle the runaway prince with smooth words, going as far as Dreux to meet him, detachments were ordered out from Rouen, Orleans, and Chartres to surround him. But Alençon was not to be trapped and rode swiftly[506] off toward the Loire in the hope of falling in with La Noue or the viscount of Turenne. At the same time the duke of Guise was ordered to make a vigorous resistance against the coming of Condé’s reiters. But even his army was in a bad state on account of the defection of officers and men, who had gone over to Alençon, so that new troops had to be sent him.[1715] Almost all the soldiery in the service of the King was withdrawn from Dauphiné and Languedoc and concentrated in Burgundy and Champagne.[1716] Much depended upon the result of the coming battle with the reiters. If the King’s troops were beaten, Paris would be in a serious strait between the King’s enemies. Already, in consequence of the withdrawal of troops, all Auvergne, Bourbonnais, Nivernais, Gâtinais, and the Beauce were in arms, and the gentlemen of these regions had gone over to the duke of Alençon. Only the vigilance of the garrisons at Orleans and Tours, Moulins and Nevers, enabled the crown to maintain the line of the Loire river.

The reiters attempted to evade Guise and find another way of entrance into France, so that the duke left his artillery in Lorraine and by forced marches went to Sedan, with the intention of giving battle there. But the reiters, about 2,500, under Thoré, avoided an engagement and maneuvered to join a Protestant force of 2,000 Picards, and Guise fell back on Rheims in order to hold the crossing of the Aisne, meantime asking the King for reinforcements which were so slow in coming that the duke was compelled to retire to the Marne. On October 9 he established his headquarters between Château-Thierry and Epernay, near Port-à-Pinson. The encounter took place near Fismes, on the Marne, above Dormans, on October 10. Not more than fifty were killed on either side and the combat did not deter the reiters from continuing their course and crossing the Seine near Nogent-sur-Seine, which they were able to do on account of low water. Their chief loss was of two or three cornets of reiters whom Guise bribed to[507] desert. De Thoré owed his easy escape, however, to the serious wound which the duke of Guise sustained. For a bullet struck him in the side of the face, tearing his ear clear away and so mangling the cheek that he was fearfully scarred for the rest of his life and always wore a velvet mask.[1717]

The insignificance of the victory of the duke, however, did not deter the King from proclaiming a solemn procession and Te Deum in honor of the day. The “victory” also was made the justification of a new tax. On October 12, 1575, by command of the King, the burgesses of Paris assembled in the grand room of the Hôtel-de-Ville where the provost of the merchants, Charron, made known a new demand of the King for aid in the form of a capitation tax upon the burgesses of the city and other places in the prévôté of Paris for the payment of 3,000 Swiss, making half of the 6,000 which the King required for defense of the realm, in addition to the sum of 15,000 francs expected for each of the ensuing months.

Once again were the people of Champagne made the victims of the spoiler. All the horses of the poor laborers whom the reiters encountered on the road were forcibly seized, as was also the case in the hostelries where they lodged. A single parish lost thirty horses. The only payment the poor peasantry got was to be beaten for their protests.

For the space of three or four days one might see along the roads and in the villages soldiers all of the time, making for the crossing of the Seine at La Motte de Tilly. Two troopers rode one horse and their presence was hard upon the merchants and the priests, whom they met in the way. The smaller merchants were despoiled of their property, and those known to be wealthy had their riches extorted from them by force, or else were held prisoner until ransomed. To make matters worse, in the wake of the army came a rabble of looters and plunderers, mostly French.[1718]

It was obvious that as long as the reiters were in the field, the King could send no force against his brother. He blamed the[508] queen mother for everything that had happened, especially for the escape of Alençon, and Catherine, by way of reply, is said to have sent him a copy of Commines to read with the advice to emulate the policy of his crafty predecessor. But as a contemporary scornfully observed, Henry of Valois was not Louis XI. What could be expected from a King who spent his time “going from abbey to abbey and devising with women.”[1719] In sorrow and anxiety, sustained by the dukes of Montmorency and Montpensier and the fine old marshal Cossé, Catherine made earnest efforts to negotiate a truce with the duke of Alençon.

Prefacing his demands by the caution that he could not negotiate finally without Condé or Damville, Alençon demanded surrender of Pont-de-Cé on the Loire, besides La Charité, Bourges, Angoulême, Niort, Saumur, and Angers for the Huguenots; and Mezières in Champagne, Langres in Burgundy, or La Fère in Picardy for the prince of Condé;[1720] a large settlement for himself; a promise that the States-General should be convened for the Politiques; the crown to pay 200,000 crowns to the Protestant reiters; the exercise of Calvinist worship in as ample terms as obtained in 1570 (till more fully provided for in the ultimate articles of peace); the revolted provinces to remain in arms, except in the case of mercenaries, it being understood that no acts of hostility be done and commerce and trade to be free during the interim. The King’s council, when these sweeping terms were laid before it, advised the King to yield, seeing no way out on account of lack of means to carry on the war. But Henry III was furious and threw the articles in the fire. In defiance of the advice of his friends, who told him to employ what few funds he had in corrupting the reiters with Condé, he sent 30,000 crowns more to Germany to purchase assistance.

In this strait, money came suddenly, as from heaven. The[509] papal nuncio proffered 100,000 crowns at once and promised 200,000 more, while the Venetian government, in memory of his visit there in the year previous, made him a gift of his jewels that were in pawn. Finally, to crown the King’s jubilation at this sudden turn of events, word came from Germany that the reiters hired by Schomberg and Bassompierre were coming “and would not be stayed by the truce.” Henry III at once broke off negotiations. The hope was to sever Alençon from the prince of Condé and then, preferably by bribery, by war if necessary, overcome the latter, for Schomberg persuaded the King that this course was practicable. To this end commissioners were sent abroad to levy new taxes.[1721] Great ingenuity was shown in the devising of new forms of taxation. In June, 1575, two edicts had been issued, one requiring the fixing of new seals to bolts of woolen cloth and the establishment of a greffier des tailles in each parish;[1722] the other creating the office of four arpenteurs (land commissioners) in each jurisdiction of the realm. The number of notaries was also augmented.[1723] In December the King made a pretext of the coming of the reiters to demand a new subsidy from the pliant and obedient people of France, under cover of raising men for the war. Of the Parisians he demanded the sum of 200,000 livres, to pay three thousand Swiss. Another pretext was the repair of the bridge at Charenton, which the Huguenots had broken in 1567.[1724] These taxes fell all the more heavily because in addition to the ruin of the country by war, the crops were short throughout the land on account of the dry summer. “The rivers everywhere were so low that in many places one could wade them. Every morning the sun rose and every evening it set red and inflamed.”[1725]


In the meantime, fear prevailed in Paris lest the forces of Damville and the viscount of Turenne would effect a junction with those of the duke of Alençon and the united body march upon Paris, and garrisons were hastily put in Montereau, Corbeil, Charenton, St. Cloud, and St. Denis. The old trenches on both sides of the river were repaired and platforms erected in the fields around the city. Montmartre especially was fortified. The townspeople of the capital as well as villagers from the outside were impressed into the work with picks, shovels, and baskets. Mills were erected within the city, and the city was provisioned. The King issued an edict ordering the peasantry within thirty leagues around the capital to thrash their grain and to store it in fortified towns known to be faithful to the crown, unless they were dwelling within nine leagues of Paris, in which case the grain was to be brought into the city. All the passages of the Loire were guarded. The result of all this was a reign of terror in the Ile-de-France. The soldiery indulged in all sorts of brigandage, so that in sheer desperation the villagers sometimes fired their towns. Provisions were commandeered without recompense. To such outrages were the poor people subjected that the inhabitants of one town, Jogny, begged the commander to have mercy upon them. But instead of so doing, Puygaillard loaded the little deputation with reproaches and had them beaten by the soldiers in the presence of all.[1726]

With the memory of the elder prince of Condé’s presence before the walls of Paris, and the battle of St. Denis, where the constable Montmorency was killed, the Parisians were willing to labor in the trenches for the safety of Paris. But they were not willing to be taxed further. In a remarkable remonstrance, joined in by the clergy, the Parlement, the Chambre des Comptes, the Cour des Aides, the provost of Paris, and the bourgeois and citizens of every quarter of the city, protest was made against the extortion of 200,000 livres, which Henry III proposed to raise in this hour of extremity. After reciting that civil discord had prevailed in France since 1560, and that during the space of fifteen years the crown[511] had obtained 36,000,000 francs from Paris and other towns, and 60,000,000 from the clergy, besides other gifts and subsidies, with little progress to show either in politics or religion, the memorial proceeded to point out some of the causes of this universal corruption in scathing terms:

Simony is openly permitted. Benefices are held by married gentlewomen who employ the revenues far differently to the intention of the founders. The people are left without religious instruction and thus stray from the true religion. There is but little justice to be obtained through the venality of the tribunals, causing their neighbors to hold them in abomination. The number of those holding office is very great and part of them notoriously incapable and the rest poor, being thereby prone to evil actions. Justice is further impeded by the impunity with which murder is committed. Great cruelties and barbarities are committed by the foot soldiers and by the gendarmerie, which does not now consist of gentlemen but of persons of vile condition. Not only by these, but by the soldiers of his guard, is pillage made on the houses of his people, ecclesiastical holdings, and hospitals even in Paris itself, so that the poor cannot obtain common necessaries.[1727]

During these weeks Montmorency had earnestly labored in favor of peace, pleading, arguing, expostulating both with his own younger brothers and Alençon. He was as earnestly supported by Catherine de Medici, now converted to a peace policy by the force of events,[1728] but both were continually thwarted either by the King’s inconstancy or the machinations of the Guises.

The illness of the queen mother—she suffered so much from sciatica that often she was unable to leave her chamber—and the frivolity of the King were a positive advantage to the Guises’ policy.

It will be remembered that the fortress of La Fère had been tentatively demanded of the King for the prince of Condé. Henry III had replied offering Doulens in Picardy instead of either La Fère or Peronne, which was later suggested, on the plea that he could not exact obedience from the inhabitants of the latter places. This demand for a border fortress near Flanders was made by the duke of Alençon, in reality to further his own advantage in[512] the Spanish Netherlands, and he took the method of having Condé take title to it as a means of concealing his purpose.

The possible disposal of any border fortress in Picardy in such a way tremendously alarmed the king of Spain and the Guises who concerted to break the peace.[1729] This plan is the true origin of the formation of the famous Holy League, which, although it assumed organized form only after the peace of Bergerac (September 17, 1576), nevertheless existed in a tentative state this early, in the combined action of the dukes of Guise, Nemours, Mayenne, and Nevers, Biragues the chancellor, and other satellites of the house of Guise to prevent peace being made on such terms, and to break it in event of its being made.[1730] Twice this cabal called upon the King to give battle before all the forces of the opposition were united and twice the queen mother foiled their purpose by securing delay. On February 22 a violent scene took place between her and the council—Henry III was sick—in which Catherine branded those who said her son was a traitor as liars and declared that in spite of opposition “it shall be peace.”

The indifference of Henry III to the gravity of the situation and his supreme egotism are remarkable, yet thoroughly in keeping with his character. For hours together he would prate of poetry and philosophy—“de primis causis, de sensu et sensibili and such like questions”—with his favorites, in the retirement of a cabinet, while the realm was going to rack and ruin. The Venetian ambassador describes one of these symposiums with minute care in a dispatch of February 3, 1576.

For the last few days [he says] his Majesty has taken his pleasure by retiring into a small apartment which has no window, and to his apartment[513] his Majesty summons four or five youths of the city who follow the profession of poets and light literature, and to meet these people his Majesty invites the Duke of Nevers, the Grand Prior, Biragues, Monseigneur, De Soure, the queen of Navarre, his sister, Madame de Nevers, and the marshal de Retz, all of whom profess to delight in poetry. When they are thus assembled his Majesty orders one of these youths to speak in praise of one of the virtues, exalting it above all the others, and as soon as he has concluded his reasoning each person in turn argues against the proposal which has been made. His Majesty consumes many hours in this exercise, to the small satisfaction of the queen mother and everybody else, who would desire to see in times so calamitous his Majesty attending to his urgent affairs, and not to amusements, which, however praiseworthy at other times, are now from the necessity of the case condemned by all, seeing that the King for this cause fails to be present at his council and there to discuss matters which are of the greatest importance and which having regard to his own position and that of his kingdom can easily be imagined to require attention.[1731]

Strange as it may seem, the Guises’ determination to continue the war comported with the wishes of some of their enemies—a circumstance which illustrates how singular was the alliance existing between the Huguenots and the Politiques. The religious Huguenots already, in the middle of December, had remonstrated[514] against the terms of peace proposed on the ground that the offers made did not promise as much of advantage or security as a continuation of the war. It was argued that the truce would result in greater prejudice to them since the King would still be prepared for war and that if they now let the opportunity pass of establishing their fortune by the aid of the reiters, the result would bring calamity to them.[1732] These narrow-minded dissidents looked with ill favor upon the politic course of the duke of Alençon in avoiding the pillage of the towns he took, even of trusting to their loyalty and refraining from putting garrisons in them (some of these towns were Dreux, Romorantin, Thouars, and Loudun), and censured him for his pacific overtures to the Parlement of Paris.[1733] Accordingly they hailed with delight the escape of Henry of Navarre (February 5, 1576), and his immediate abjuration[1734] of the Catholic faith which he had been forced to confess on St. Bartholomew’s Day, and the renewed advance of the reiters into Burgundy and Auvergne and thence across the Loire into Bourbonnais, notwithstanding the fact that these mounted mercenaries “made a terrible spoil with fire and fagots” wherever they went.

The reiters took the road toward Langres, crossed the Seine above Châtillon into Auxerre, making for the passage of the Loire River at La Charité, in order to effect a junction with the duke of Alençon, who was in Berry, not far from Bourges. Champagne and Brie were filled with robbers in the wake of their advance, who, pretending that they were soldiers, plundered the townspeople and robbed wayfarers and travelers. There were regular bands of these freebooters, the members of which were paid regular wages by their captains. But the anarchy in the provinces did not compel the King to stop his dallying with philosophy, or his love for mad-cap pranks. He went off on a Shrovetide frolic in March, “riding about the town to cast eggs and such other disorders,” leaving Mayenne to labor with those nobles who refused to be commanded[515] “by a boy that never saw wars and a soldiery whose pay was a whole quarter in arrears.”[1735] Mayenne made his headquarters at Moulins to prevent the reiters uniting with Alençon and the Huguenots of Poitou and Guyenne. It required all the address of the marshal Biron to restrain the young commander from throwing himself upon them, almost careless of the outcome, for defeat could have been little worse than the daily shrinkage of his army from desertion.[1736]

Henry III at first had pretended to make light of the escape of his cousin. But the presence of Henry of Navarre in the field soon had an important influence. It was the one thing needful to complete the organization of the Huguenots, many of whom looked upon the prince of Condé more as a Politique than as one of them. The harmonious working of the two parties opposed to the crown was now possible in greater degree than before. Henry of Navarre, the prince of Condé, the duke of Alençon, and Damville united, were in a position to bring things to a focus. The actual territory controlled by Henry III at this time was little, if any, greater than the ancient Ile-de-France, Burgundy, and Champagne of his ancestors in the twelfth century. The Huguenots and Politiques so divided the realm among themselves that a map of the kingdom at this time reminds one of that of France in the feudal age. Henry of Navarre had made his headquarters at Saumur and thus was able easily to control Anjou; the allegiance of Guyenne, Béarn, and Poitou was certain; the duke of Alençon was in occupation of the “midlands”—Berry (except Bourges)[516] and most of Bourbonnais and Nivernais. Young Coligny, who had succeeded Montbrun, was in Dauphiné, and his fealty to the religion was unswerving; Damville and his lieutenants controlled all Languedoc, Provence, and Auvergne; young Montgomery was in Lower Normandy where English assistance secretly helped him, while the prince of Condé, backed by the count palatine, endangered Picardy.

The winning cards were all in the hands of the Huguenots and the Politiques. Without territory, without funds, with an unpaid army or hireling mercenaries only, the crown had no other recourse than to accept the situation and make peace unless Henry III and the queen mother stooped to the worse humiliation of receiving the support of Philip II. And so it came to pass that while Paris daily expected to withstand a siege and the faubourgs and gates were so crowded with those living outside the walls and refugees from the environs “that a man could scarce enter the gates for the people, carriages, and cattle,”[1737] Henry III signed the Act of Peace, May 2, 1576.

The peace of 1576, sometimes called the Peace of Monsieur, from the duke of Alençon’s prominent part in its formation, was the most complete and elaborate charter yet given the Huguenots, embodying the wisdom that experience had taught. It is to be noticed that the settlement involved both toleration of the religion and political reform. The provisions of this composite peace may be classified under four heads, each of which was an essential element in the late opposition to the crown, viz:—the Huguenots, Henry of Navarre, the duke of Alençon, the Politiques.

The King granted to the Huguenots public exercise of the Calvinist religion throughout France except within two leagues of the court and four leagues of Paris. The Huguenots were declared eligible to all offices and dignities without discrimination on account of religion. As a security for the King’s justice against possible abuse of these rights, the crown engaged to establish mixed parlements, half Catholic, half Protestant, at Poitiers, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Grenoble, Aix, Dijon, Rheims,[517] and Rouen, and a new chamber in the Parlement of Paris with two presidents and eighteen councilors, nine of them Catholic, nine Protestant. Protestant advocates, procureurs-généraux and greffiers civil and criminal were to be connected with each of these mixed parlements.

For further protection of the Huguenots, eight cautionary towns were to be ceded to them, to wit: Aigues-Mortes and Beaucaire in Languedoc; Périgueux and Le Mas de Verdun in Guyenne; La Rochelle in Poitou; Yssoire in Auvergne; Nions and Serres (château included) in Dauphiné; Cennes “la grande tour et le circuit” in Provence. Additional demands were for general oblivion for all conduct and action by persons of either side; revocation of all decrees, judgments, and proclamations hitherto made; rehabilitation of the memory of Admiral Coligny and restoration of their livings and honors to his children as well as in the cases of Montgomery, Montbrun, Bricquemault, and Cavagnies. No prosecution was to be made with regard to the actions done at St. Germain-en-Laye and Bois de Vincennes.

Two of these provisions were received with great dissatisfaction by the Huguenot deputies and when published were decried by many of the Protestants. The first of them was the prohibition of Protestant worship within the faubourgs of Paris, the act specifically declaring that St. Denis, St. Maur-des-Fosses, Pont-de-Charenton, Bourg-la-Reine and Port de Neuilly were within the prohibited confines. The other one which met with great objection was that touching the security towns.[1738] The deputies demanded two towns in every government (there were fourteen governments). But the King would yield only eight, these to be chosen from the towns already in possession of the Huguenots, a proviso which eliminated such important points as Niort, Angoulême, and Cognac. In the case of La Charité and Saumur, over which the longest discussion arose, a compromise was reached by giving them[518] to Alençon in appanage. Long and acrimonious debate was made over this article, and at one stage the negotiations were so nearly broken off that Paris was notified to be prepared for a renewal of the war. The crown’s demands in this matter were really not unreasonable, for these eight towns were not included in the number given to Henry of Navarre or the prince of Condé, or in the appanage of the duke of Alençon.[1739]

If the demands of the Huguenots were excessive, those of Henry of Navarre were still more sweeping. He not only aimed to live like a king in the future in his own country of Béarn, but sought to commit the crown to the recovery of the kingdom of Navarre as well. All the past claims and grievances of his ancestry were embodied. He demanded: That the King of Navarre command in his government of Guyenne extending from Pilles to Bayonne, in such manner as his ancestors had done; that all captains and governors obey him as the governor and lieutenant-general of the King; that he have the providing of the necessary garrisons; that all his lands and seignories should recognize no other government than he appointed and that all towns and fortresses belonging to him should be at once surrendered; that his right to his kingdom be preserved, and that his subjects should not be taxed for the services of the king of France, according to their ancient immunities; that all gentlemen being his servants, officers, or subjects should come and go and traffic freely through all France without molestation; that his officers and servants should enjoy such privileges as if they served the royal family of France; that he and his heirs should be discharged from the guarantee given by himself and his mother toward the purchases of ecclesiastical property, and for the payment of the reiters; that in view of the fact that the late king had granted 200,000 livres to his mother, the late queen of Navarre, for the celebration of the nuptials of himself and his queen, the King’s sister, which has never been paid, and furthermore, because there was also yet due 120,000 livres, arrears of the pension of the late king of Navarre, he prayed the King to deal with him as favorably as he could for payment;[519] that if any offices or benefices fell vacant in seignories of the king of Navarre, he should have the nominating and presenting of such persons; that the King would preserve to him in his lands and seignories his privileges and accustomed sources of revenue, such as the droit de tabellionage and de sceaux.

Having so far required everything that could conceivably be based upon things present, Henry endeavored to revive the ancient claims of his house in a startling fashion. The old feudal spirit of William of Aquitaine and Raymond of Toulouse seems to have been reincarnated in his person at this time. For Henry demanded further that he be recompensed for the 6,000 livres promised in time past, in virtue of the right that Françoise de Bretagne, wife of Aleyne, sieur d’Albret, father of John of Navarre, had had to the duchy of Brittany.[1740] But even this was not all, for Henry of Navarre finally made the demand that the pension of 46,000 livres which his grandfather had enjoyed in recompense for the loss of Navarre, from which his great grandfather had been expelled in 1512 by Ferdinand of Aragon, be continued to him, and that the King of France should promise to help him to recover Navarre![1741]

In the nature of things, not a tithe of these demands could be granted by the crown, least of all the last. The massacre of St. Bartholomew had proved how perilous it was to try to drive Catholic France into a war with Spain, and France was less ready now than in 1570-72 to join battle with Philip. Perforce Henry of Navarre had to be content with a restoration of things as they were on August 24, 1572.[1742]

The duke of Alençon had created for him a position stronger than that of Henry of Navarre. As a prince of the blood and as a Politique he occupied middle ground between the crown and the Huguenots; in consequence, many of the places which neither[520] of the chief principals was willing to resign were included in the grant to him. While technically all the territories so concerned were regarded as appanages,[1743] it is plain that a distinction may easily be made between the duchies of Alençon, Maine, Anjou, Touraine, and La Roche—which had originally been given him as a prince of the blood—and places like Bourges, Moulins, Loches, Saumur, La Charité, Pont-de-Sel, Amiens, Moulans, and Mantes. These latter possessions were practically a class apart of security cities intrusted by compromise to the duke. This was particularly true of Saumur and La Charité, which insured the Protestants of passage across the lower and upper Loire, and so linked the South with Normandy on the North and the Palatinate and the German Protestant states to the east. Moreover, Moulins in Bourbonnais and Bourges in Berry assured the Protestants of position there, so that the whole left bank of the Loire from Auvergne to Nantes was in their control. Mantes was meant to compensate the Huguenots in the vicinity of Paris for the loss of Charenton.

The King yielded the government of Picardy again to the prince of Condé, but the matter of what town should be his created much heated argument. The prince himself at first stoutly contended for Boulogne, although he did not say that its convenience to England was the chief reason for his desire. But Henry III as stoutly refused. Then Amiens was suggested, and as compromise this city was given to the King’s brother. Condé then demanded Peronne. Although the King would have preferred Doulens or even St. Quentin to this concession, he yielded. The only other detail concerning the prince was the obligation to pay his and his father’s debts in Germany, which the crown assumed.

Damville did not come in for as much honor as his colleagues, but was far from being ignored. As the chief of the Politiques or “les catholiques associez,” as they were defined in the interest of peace, Damville was and remained the leading man in Languedoc. Aside from the retention of Damville in his government, promise was made the Politiques to summon the States-General[521] at Blois within six months for the reformation and reorganization of the administration.[1744]

It follows as a matter of course that the maintenance and protection of the multitude of social and civil rights that made the web and woof of a civilized society was guaranteed, such as the validity of Protestant marriage, land and property titles, freedom of education, commerce and trade, etc.

A very delicate matter to adjust was the future relation of the electoral count palatine and the duke John Casimir, his son. A secret alliance had existed between the count palatine, England, and the prince of Condé since July, 1575. In November, Alençon and the Politiques joined the alliance. One of the terms of that alliance was that Metz, Toul, and Verdun were to pass to Casimir as the price of his support and both Huguenots and Politiques—at least Alençon—stood pledged to assist him in securing these Three Bishoprics. But it was manifestly impossible to expect the French crown to grant such a cession, nor is it probable, now that peace had come, that any in France looked with amiability upon this article of the contract of Heidelberg. It were too great a humiliation to have this brilliant conquest of 1552 thus passively surrendered. Fortunately it was found possible to placate John Casimir with less distinguished sacrifices. His claims were purchased for an enormous sum of money—or at least the promise of it; no less than two million florins (three million francs), part to be paid in the coming June and the balance at the next two fairs at Frankfurt, in addition to which he received the whole seigneury of Château-Thierry[1745]—worth 20,000 francs per annum—a perpetual colonelcy of 4,000 horse, a company of 100 men-at-arms and 12 reitmeisters, all of which was confirmed by Henry III’s declaration that he would “repute and esteem the count palatine and Duke Casimir as good neighbors.”


The terms of the Peace of Monsieur[1746] were exceedingly unpopular in Paris, whose citizens had been the heaviest contributors to the expenses of the war thus closed and who had made strenuous military preparations in defense of the capital, and the unpopularity of Henry III was not enhanced in the eyes of the Parisians by the King’s repudiation of a part of the rentes, the incomes of which were the chief means of support with many. But when Charron, the provost of the merchants, and the counselor Abot, at the head of a deputation of the foremost citizens of the capital protested against this high-handed action to the King’s own face, Henry III with a sneer which carried with it a covert threat rejoined: “Hang a man and he tells no tales.”[1747]

The camps of the duke of Alençon and the Protestants were broken up when the peace was published. The soldiery around La Rochelle and in Poitou, Anjou, and Berry, returned home, except some troops which were reserved until it was seen what Casimir and his reiters, who were near Langres, would do. These marauders with many French of Champagne and Brie, crossed the Yonne above Sens and arrived in Champagne between May 10 and 11 and remained there for a week, living on the land. After having sojourned six or seven days between the Seine and the Vauluisant, on the 16th they moved on to a place between Troyes and the village of Mery-sur-Seine, where they remained for fifteen days to the distress of the people and absolutely destroyed[523] the little village of Marigny, which had but two persons left in it. In order to find food they foraged for miles. The peasantry turned their cattle loose or drove them, together with their possessions, into the fortified towns or châteaux. But the gentry were less safe than the peasantry even, for the latter had already been so despoiled that nothing was left to be taken. Out of this frightful state of affairs rose an organized resistance which is very interesting to observe, for the nobility and gentry of the region and the local peasantry, forgetting their class antagonism, made common cause together. Whenever these “vigilance committees” found themselves to be stronger or happened upon stragglers from the main band, they threw themselves upon them; sometimes the victims were bound and cast alive in the river Aube or Seine. Between St. Loup-de-la-Fosse-Gelane and St. Martin-de-Bossenay, a group of ten or twelve reiters were thus set upon and only one escaped. But the vengeance their comrades meted out upon the offenders was terrible, for the troopers, numbering over a hundred horsemen, the next night burned all the villages round about.[1748]

Not until September was this scourge removed from the land. By that time they were bought off and were conducted to the frontier by Bassompierre, the Alsatian gentleman in the King’s service, who was well rewarded, as he deserved to be, for the accomplishment of the perilous task. But the licensing of the regular troops immediately afterward still prolonged the agony of the province for a season.[1749]

The Peace of Monsieur may fittingly be said to have terminated the period of the religious wars of France. The dominant issue of the succeeding years of conflict from 1576 to 1598 was not a religious, but a political one. Why permanent peace did not result it is not the work of this volume to narrate. Suffice to say that Spain and Spain’s instrument, the Holy League, were to blame for the ensuing years of strife.

The germ of the provincial Catholic leagues had been the desire, on the part of the Catholics of France, to resist the progress[524] of Calvinism. But in the hands of the French nobles these local leagues, controlled by the aristocracy and welded into one mighty organization under the leadership of the duke of Guise, backed by Spanish gold, became a new league of the public weal, which, under the cloak of religion revived the feudal ambition of the French nobility to acquire power at the expense of the crown.








[P. 49, n. 2]


Elizabeth, Vol. XIII, No. 456

[The Cardinal of Lorraine and Duke of Guise to the Queen-Dowager of Scotland]

Madame nous avons receu votre lettre par ce marinier present porteur et sceu par icelle lestat en quoy sont les affaires de dela [two pages in cipher].

Quant aux nouvelles de deca nous voullons bien que vous sachez que depuis quinze ou vingt jours aucuns malheureux ont essaye icy demectre a fin une conjuration quilz avoient faicte pour tuer le Roy et ne nous y oublyoient [pas][1750] tout cela fonde sur la religion dont aucuns des principaulx autheurs [ont este pris] et pugniz. Maiz tant plus nous allons avant et plus trouvons nous [que ceste conspiration] a longue queue ayant este bastie de longue main et appuyee par daucuns gr[andz qui se] sont trouvez bien trompez. Car nostre Seigneur a bien sceu defendre sa cause. S’est quasi le mesmes train qui ont prins voz Rebelles mais ilz voulloient commancer par le sang et lespee une autre fois vous en scaurez plus par le menu. Et pour fin de ceste lettre vous dirons madame que la compaignye faict Dieu mercy tresbonne chere et nous recommandons treshumblement a votre bonne grace, Priant Dieu ma dame vous donner en sante tresbonne et treslongue vye. De Marmoustre le ixº jour davril 1559.

[Signed] Voz treshumbles et tresobeissans freres

C. Caral de Lorraine Francoys sr de Lorraine.

[Addressed] A la Royne

Douairiere et regente Descosse.

[Not endorsed]

[Pencil note by editor] This is dated “more Gallicano” which commences the year at Easter. In 1560, Easter day fell on the 14 of April, consequently this letter dated on the 9th would appear to be, as it is dated, in 1559, being in fact 1560.

No. 460

[“A portion of the previous letter in French” (Calendar)]

Estant que avecques plus de commodité et de moyen vous navez esté et nestez secourue autant que nous voyons et jugeons trop bien quil seroit necessaire ce que n’a pas este retardi par faulte de debvoir de soing et de diligence.[532] Car nou