French Wars of Religion

A Century of Conflict and Crisis
Religious Wars (Chapter 4)
Religious conflict developed as a result of the Reformation
Catholics and Protestants begin to fight each other
German territories of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) became a battleground
1555: Peace of Augsburg: declared that the religion of the ruler would decide the religion of his territory
Granted the secular rulers some degree of control over religion
Reinforced separation among the Germanic states of the HRE, some were Catholic (mostly the south) and some were
Protestant (mostly those in the north)
Temporarily created peace, but warfare develops throughout the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
French Wars of Religion (1562-1598)
France was torn apart by civil wars for nearly 40 years.
Calvinism grew in popularity among the French nobles (about 40-50% of the French nobility were Protestant)
The kings of the Valois Dynasty (staunch supporters of the Catholic Church) often persecuted the Protestants.
o Persecution of Huguenots was also a method of controlling the French nobles, increasing the power of
the king.
o Ex. 1540: Edict of Fontainebleau subjected French Protestants to the Inquisition.
A civil war broke out between the Huguenots and Catholics. Politics also played a part in this conflict because
the Bourbon family (Huguenots) was fighting against the Guise family (Catholic) for control over the French
o 1559: King Henry II died and his wife, Catherine de Medici, became regent to her young son
 Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III were the sons of Henry II and Catherine. Each would hold
the throne for a time before passing away.
o French monarchy temporarily weakened because new king is young (Francis II) and his mother was
not well-liked by the people
 Rival families begin to take advantage and try to seize the throne.
Violence breaks out between the Catholics and Protestants
 Ex: Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
War of the Three Henrys breaks out between King Henry III, Henry of Navarre (the brother-in-law of Henry III)
and Henry of Guise.
 Henry of Guise and Henry III are both assassinated in the course of the conflict.
Henry of Navarre (now known as Henry IV) becomes king
 Establishes the Bourbon Dynasty of the French monarchy
 Passes the Edict of Nantes in 1598 to establish Catholicism as the official religion of France
while also granting religious freedom to the Huguenot minority.
 Henry IV was assassinated by a fanatic monk, the Edict of Nantes was revoked by King Louis
XIV in 1685.