Religion, Wars of

   The Wars of Religion were a series of long civil wars, and included various treaties, that took place in France from 1562 to 1598. The success of the Calvinist Reformation and its rapid propagation created little by little a climate of tension, contained for a while by the attempts at reconciliation of Catherine de' medici. The massacre at Wassy (1562), ordered by the duke of guise in reaction against the Edict of Saint-Germain (January 1562) opened the conflict that would pit Catholics and Protestants against each other, each side trying to assure by force the triumph of the true faith. The Wars of Religion also had a political aspect; the great lords profited from the situation to gain autonomy in the provinces, while at the national level, the houses of Guise and montmorency, in rivalry with those of the bourbons and Coligny, tried to gain control of the royal power being exercised at the time by the regent, Catherine de' Medici. The two sides appealed to foreign powers for help, one to England and the other to Spain, and brought to France pillaging bands of soldiers, battles, massacres, tortures, and assassinations. The first war ended with the Peace of Amboise (1563) but was soon renewed. Despite the Catholic victories at Jarnac and Moncontour (1569), the subsequent Peace of Saint-Germain (1570) was favorable to the huguenots. But it also provoked a Catholic reaction, and the st. bartholomew'sday massacre (1572) brought a new period of conflict, ended in 1576 by the Peace of Monsieur (1576). This peace, gained through political negotiations, was judged as too moderate. The Catholic League renewed the fighting while dictating its wishes to the king (see henry III), and the history of the Wars of Religion became involved with that of the French Crown. The most important subsequent events were the days of the barricades (1588), the assassination of the duke of Guise, and then that of Henry III. henry IV also had to fight to establish his authority, and gathered around himself a moderate political faction. Peace was already made with the Spanish when he signed the edict of nantes (1598), which put a final end to the Wars of Religion. The nation was ravaged, however, and royal authority, so strong under the first Valois kings, was challenged. Finally, the discontent of the two religious groups was not ended and resulted in the assassination of Henry IV and the Protestant resistance that would trouble the following reigns.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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