France in 1585


Map Code: Ax00854

Between 1562–98, France fought a total of nine wars of religion, pitting the Catholics against the Protestant Huguenots. The dominant figures on the Catholic side were Catherine de’ Medici, mother of the House of Valois kings, Charles IX and Henri III, and the ducal family of Guise. The Protestants were led by the Conde and Montmorency dukedoms, and Henri of Navarre, who ultimately became the French king. Spain and England became involved, espousing respectively the Catholic and Protestant cause. The brutality of the conflict was symbolized by the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572, when the Catholics murdered tens of thousands of Huguenots in Paris and across France. This included their leader, Admiral Coligny. Henri of Navarre escaped death only by converting, briefly, to Catholicism. In 1589, Henri became king and, in 1593, once more converted to Catholicism; it enabled an exhausted truce through the Edict of Nantes of 1598.

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