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Thursday, August 24, 2017

HUGUENOTS | August 24 – St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris
This day in 1572, Catholic King Charles IX of France, encouraged  by his mother, Catherine de Medici, ordered the killing of Huguenot leaders in Paris, setting off an orgy of killing.

Tens of thousands of Huguenots (a Protestant minority in France, followers of John Calvin) were massacred, first in Paris and then all across France. The slaughter is called in French the "Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy".

Two days earlier, Catherine had ordered the murder of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a Huguenot leader who was advising a war with Spain. However, Coligny was only wounded, and Charles promised outrage Huguenots that he would investigate the attempted assassination.  But Catherine then convinced her son that the Huguenots were on the brink of rebellion. He went along with the plan to murder their leaders, most of whom were visiting Paris to celebrate the wedding on August 18 day of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (who would become   Henry IV of France).

On August 23, 1572, the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle, a list of those to be killed was drawn up. First on the list was Coligny, who was brutally beaten and thrown out of his bedroom window just before dawn on August 24.

However, once the killing started, mobs of Catholic Parisians began a general massacre of Huguenots.

Charles on August 25 ordered a halt to this killing, but the slaughters continued into October, reaching the provinces of Rouen, Lyon, Bourges, Bourdeaux, and Orleans. An estimated 3,000 French Protestants were killed in Paris, and 5,000-70,000 (estimates vary) in all of France.

The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent leaders, but those who remained became implacably anti-Catholic.