During the Reformation, Spain saw itself as a stronghold of Catholicism…but France was a pretty close second. The Huguenots (French adherents to Calvin’s writing) were never more than a small minority — but they were a vocal one. Besides, they had half of the nobility on their side.
The royal family — the Valois — was still vehemently Catholic.
– King Charles IX, age eleven
– Catherine de’ Medici (really in charge here)
– King Charles IX
– Future King Henry III
– Marguerite de Valois
– Henry of Navarre
– Jeanne D’Albert
If you think this sounds like trouble, you’re not alone. Violence began erupting between the two groups. In an effort to smooth things over, a marriage was arranged between the king’s sister and the sun of Jeanne D’Albert, the de facto leader of the Huguenots.
Unfortunately, the wedding of the Huguenot leader brought lots of Huguenots together in one place, leading to the worst clash yet: the bloody St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre.
In short: lots of Huguenots died.
Sounds bad, right? Well, it’ll get worse: When Henry III ends up on the throne, he ignores Mom’s influence and tries to be more moderate. But she isn’t the only crazy Catholic in the country…
Next time: The War of the Three Henries