First War of Religion, 1562-3

First War of Religion, 1562-3

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First War of Religion, 1562-3

The First War of Religion (1562-63) was the first of a series of nine wars that split France for nearly forty years, and was a generally inconclusive war that was ended by a compromise peace.

Like much of Europe France was divided by the Reformation. The French Protestants, known as Huguenots, were increasingly persecuted during the reign of Henry II, and this continued after his death in 1559. That year saw the end of the long series of Hapsburg-Valois Wars, with the peace of Catteau-Cambresis of 3 April. To cement the peace Henry's daughter Elizabeth was to marry Philip II of Spain, while his sister Marquerite married Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy. Henry died as a result of a wound inflicted on him accidentally during a tournament being held on 30 June to celebrate their marriage, dying on 10 July 1559.

Henry was succeeded by his son young Francis II, but power was immediately seized by Duke François of Guise and his brother Charles, cardinal of Lorraine. Any rivals were pushed away from the throne, and the policy of repression continued. This helped trigger the Conspiracy of Amboise of March 1560, a plot to seize the young king and overthrow the Guises. The conspiracy failed, and in the aftermath around 1,200 people were executed, while Prince Louis de Condé was arrested and condemned.

The Guise brothers fell from power with the death of France II in December 1560. His younger brother became king as Charles IX, and Catherine de Medici made sure that she began his regent. The Guises were dismissed, Condé was released from prison and Catherine reversed the previous policy of religious oppression. A colloquy was called at Poissy in September 1561, with representatives from both sides, and although this meeting failed to find a compromise, it was followed in January 1562 by the Edict of Saint-Germain, better known as the 'Edict of Toleration' or of January. This edict gave Huguenots the right to preach during the day in the countryside and allowed Protestant noblemen to run Huguenot churches on their estates.

The Catholic response to this limited toleration was predictably hostile. Late in 1561 Duke François of Guise, Duke Anne de Montmorency, constable of France, and Marshal Saint-André formed a alliance, and prepared to seek aid from Philip II of Spain. This newly formed 'triumvirate' would be joined by Antoine of Bourbon, king of Navarre, to form the Catholic leadership in the upcoming war, although only Montmorency would survive the fighting.

It was Guise who provided the trigger for the war. As he was passing through Vassy on 1 March 1562 his men came across a Protestant congregation and opened fire. The Huguenots responded to the 'massacre of Vassy' by called a synod in April, at which they asked Louis de Bourbon, prince of Condé, to raise troops to protect them. He agreed to their request, and issued a call for the Protestant people of France to raise troops to oppose Guise and his allies.

In the first few weeks of the war a large number of towns and cities either came out in favour of the Huguenots or were seized by them. Tours, Blois, Angers, Beaugency, Poitiers, Lyon and Bourges were amongst the places to fall into their hands. The Huguenots also attempted to gain foreign help, turning to Protestant England and Germany to balance the help coming to the Catholic cause from Philip II of Spain (who at this point still ruled the Spanish Netherlands).

On 20 September 1562 Elizabeth I announced the Treaty of Hampton Court, in which she agreed to lend the Huguenots 140,000 gold crowns. In return they promised to hand Calais over to the English if they won the war, while Le Havre was occupied as a security.

In July 1562 the Royal army left Paris and marched south. Poitiers was captured, and Bourges surrendered on 31 August after a short siege. The Royal army then moved on to Rouen, which fell to an assault on 26 October 1562. The most important casualty of this siege was Antoine of Bourbon, king of Navarre, who died on 17 November of a wound inflicted earlier in the siege.

In the aftermath of the fall of Rouen the Catholic army dispersed. Part of the army was sent into winter quarters, part remained in the area around Orleans and part, under the Duke of Guise, prepared to move against the English at Le Havre.

Condé responded to these setbacks by marching on Paris. The Huguenot army sat outside the city between 28 November and 10 December, but after two weeks of fruitless negotiations it was clear that the city was too strong to capture, and the Huguenot army raised camp and began to march towards Chartres and then Normandy.

On 19 December they were intercepted by the Royal army at Dreux, and the only major battle of the war was fought. Both Condé and Montmorency were captured, and the battle was won by a counter-attack led by Guise. The remaining Huguenot forces retreated into Orleans, which was soon besieged.

On 18 February 1563, just as the siege of Orleans looked to be coming towards its end, Guise was shot and mortally wounded, dying on 24 February. This eliminated the last of the major Catholic leaders, with three dead and Montmorency in captivity. Catherine de Medici was able to use Condé to begin peace negotations, and on 18 March the war was ended by the Edict of Amboise, which gave the Huguenots some of the religious freedoms promised in 1562, including the right to preach outside towns. This compromise managed to keep the peace between the two religious communities for four years, before the fear of an international Catholic conspiracy convinced Condé and Coligny to attempt to seize the king, triggering the Second War of Religion.

The end of the First War of Religion left the English isolated at Le Havre. In the spring of 1563 a powerful Royal army, which included a number of Huguenots, moved to besiege Le Havre, and on 1 August the French reoccupied the city. In the following year England and France signed the Peace of Troyes (11 April 1564). Calais was not mentioned, but Elizabeth accepted a payment of 120,000 gold crowns in return for giving up any claim to Le Havre.


The French Wars of Religion (1562–1598) is the name of a period of civil infighting and military operations primarily between French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and the House of Guise, and both sides received assistance from foreign sources.

The exact number of wars and their respective dates are the subject of continued debate by historians some assert that the Edict of Nantes in 1598 concluded the wars, although a resurgence of rebellious activity following this leads some to believe the Peace of Alais in 1629 is the actual conclusion. However, the Massacre of Vassy in 1562 is agreed to have begun the Wars of Religion up to a hundred Huguenots were killed in this massacre. During the wars, complex diplomatic negotiations and agreements of peace were followed by renewed conflict and power struggles.

Between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 people were killed as a result of war, famine, and disease, and at the conclusion of the conflict in 1598, Huguenots were granted substantial rights and freedoms by the Edict of Nantes, though it did not end hostility towards them. The wars weakened the authority of the monarchy, already fragile under the rule of Francis II and then Charles IX, though the monarchy later reaffirmed its role under Henry IV.


The leader of the attack was the Tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon, who used his powerful navy to blockade the city's port before using an allied Amphictionic army to besiege Kirrha. The Athenians also participated with a contingent led by Alcmaeon. On the Thessalian side, the leaders were Eurylochos and Hippias. What transpired after this is a matter of debate: the earliest, and therefore probably most reliable, account is that of the medical writer Thessalos. He wrote, in the 5th century BC, that the attackers discovered a secret water-pipe leading into the city after it was broken by a horse's hoof. An asclepiad named Nebros advised the allies to poison the water with hellebore which soon rendered the defenders so weak with diarrhea that they were unable to resist the assault. Kirrha was captured and the entire population was slaughtered. [2] Nebros was considered an ancestor of Hippocrates, so this story has caused many to wonder whether it might not have been guilt over his ancestor's use of poison that drove Hippocrates to establish the Hippocratic Oath. [3]

Later historians told different stories. According to Frontinus, who wrote in the 1st century AD, after discovering the pipe, the Amphictionic League cut it, leading to great thirst within the city. They then restored the pipe and the desperate Kirrhans immediately began drinking the water, unaware that Kleisthenes had poisoned it with hellebore. [4] According to Polyaenus, a writer of the 2nd century the attackers added the hellebore to the spring from which the water came. Polyaenus also gave credit for the strategy not to Kleisthenes but to General Eurylochus, who he claimed advised his allies to gather a large amount of hellebore from Anticyra, where it was abundant. [5] The stories of Frontinus and Polyaenus both have the same result as Thessalos's tale: the defeat of Kirrha. [3]

The last major historian to advance a new story of the siege was Pausanias, who was active in the 2nd century. In his version of events, Solon of Athens diverted the course of the River Pleistos to avoid through Kirrha but the enemy was able to get enough water from their wells and rainwater collection. Solon then added a great quantity of hellebore to the water of the Pleistos and let it flow into Kirrha. [3]

The First Sacred War ended with the victory of the allies of the Amphictyony. Kirrha was destroyed and its lands were dedicated to Apollo, Leto and Artemis and it was forbidden to cultivate them or let animals graze on them. Its inhabitants fled to mountain Kirphe. Cleisthenes was generously rewarded with one third of the booty. In order to celebrate the end of the fighting the first Pythian Games were organized with Cleisthenes playing a major part in them. However, modern scholarship is very skeptical on the exact events and on the long duration of the war.

Wars of Religion & the Edict of Nantes: 1588 - 1598

Henri de Guise was assassinated in 1588 and Henry III in 1589.

At that time Henry III had been planning to attack Paris with his Huguenot cousin, Henry de Navarre. With the murder, Henry of Navarre was legally entitled to the throne, and continued to fight against the Holy League.

Despite the Holy League again having help from Spain, Henry had some significant victories. After converting to Catholicism in 1593 he entered Paris in 1594. Henry IV was notable in that he considered the future of France to be more important than the ongoing religious battles, and converted to Catholicism on that basis - that was the only way to bring peace to France. In 1598 he took the throne as King Henry IV (pictured).

In 1598, the Edict of Nantes granted freedom of worship to the whole of France. In the same year the Treaty of Vervins was signed between France and Spain. These two steps essentially ended the Wars of religion in France, and one of the most terrible chapters in it's history was brought to an end.

In the century to come much of the hard won ground would be refought, but for the time being France at last had a period of peace, after almost four decades of civil wars and two of the most brutal and senseless systematic exterminations that Europe had seen, or would see again until the 20th century.

The Wars of Religion and the 30 Years War

The wars of religion were caused by intolerance within and among states where different religions competed for adherents. The Christian church had been a near universal church, at least in Europe, for over 1000 years. The Reformation of the early 1500s had changed this. People in various areas were evangelized by preachers to follow one or another religious movement.

In the late 1500s and the Early 1600s it was believed that a state had to be homogenous in order to be stable. Some monarchs and politicians were not as concerned with what particular religion was practiced so long as there was only one. This is not to say that there were not devoutly religious kings who believed that hell-fire and damnation awaited those who did not adhere to the true religion. The two beliefs went hand in hand to create a struggle for the conscience of the people within many of the states of Europe. At the time, physical coercion was often used as a means of persuasion. Occasionally, civil war, and later European-wide war would be the result.

The Wars of Philip II

Philip II (king from 1556-1598) was a devout Catholic King of Spain. He had many more territories under his control including the Netherlands, Southern Italy, and Burgundy. He was a Hapsburg, the son of Charles V. Early in his reign he had to deal with Calvinists in the northern areas of the Netherlands who wished to be independent of Spain not only because of the difference in religion, but because they felt they were too heavily taxed. By 1609 the Dutch had effectively gained their independence.

While these struggles were under way, Philip got into a conflict with England. Mary of England had been his wife. During her reign the two had tried to reverse the English Reformation, bringing England back into the Catholic fold. However, many had resisted the movement. When Mary died, Elizabeth became queen and the Protestants came back into power. In 1588 he launched a large number of ships which were to pick up troops from Holland that were to invade England. The English, with intelligence that the invasion fleet was coming, fought an eight-day running battle with the Spanish. Though the English ships were smaller, they were superior in maneuverability and weapons range. Also a storm blew in, and the remaining Spanish ships were forced to sail by England, around Scotland and Ireland, and back to Spain. This event has long been celebrated in the annals of English history as the "Defeat of the Spanish Armada". England would never again be threatened by a direct attack from Spain.

Wars in France

In France a civil war between Calvinists, called Huguenots (led by the Bourbons), and the Catholic majority population (led by the Guise family) turned into a complicated mess. There had been an undercurrent of secular strife between the two parties ever since Calvinism began to seep over the border from Switzerland. Many of the nobles became Protestant, for some it was a vital religious conversion, but others used religion as a means to subvert the power of the king. At this time Catherine de Medici was Queen mother. She was the power behind the throne of three successive sons. Things came to a head in 1562. Eight years of fighting ended in a truce in 1570.

But Catherine was determined to deal a blow to the Huguenots. In 1572 she engineered the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre. Several thousand Protestants across France were massacred on a signal from Catherine.

The massacre brought outrage from many quarters. Henry of Navarre (king of a separate country in northern Spain) became head of the Protestants. He marched into France and the War of the Three Henrys began. The Catholic faction was led by Henry, Duke of Guise. A moderate faction was led by the French King Henry III (the third son of Catherine de Medici to be king). In the end, Henry of Guise was assassinated by the king's men, and the king was assassinated by the duke's men, leaving the way open for Henry of Navarre to become King Henry IV of France (1553-1610). He proved to be a unifying force, ending the civil strife in France.

The Thirty Years War

The Peace of Augsburg (1555) had determined that the people of each state of the Holy Roman Empire would follow the religion of the ruler of the state, whether Lutheran or Catholic. This agreement brought peace for a short time among the various religious factions in Germany.

In 1617 Ferdinand of Styria was made king of Bohemia. Some of the people, especially the Calvinist noblemen, were afraid he would persecute them for their religion. They decided to rebel. To bring the whole country with them, some nobles entered the palace and threw two of the king's officials out of a high window. This episode was called the Defenestration of Prague. ("Defenestration" actually means the throwing of someone or something out of a window. It also is sometimes used to mean "swift removal from office".) This little demonstration would provoke a vicious war that would last thirty years.

The nobles in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a new king, Frederick. War between Bohemia (with some help from a Protestant league of states) and the Holy Roman Emperor ensued (Ferdinand, the deposed king, had just been promoted to that position). By 1620 the rebellion in Bohemia was crushed.

In 1625 conflict flared again when the Lutheran king of Denmark decided to aid the Protestants in Germany. He was alarmed by the Catholic victories. He was also Duke of Holstein, another province of the Holy Roman Empire. The emperor hired an independent contractor, Wallenstein, who raised 50,000 troops and beside the emperor's forces destroyed the army of Christian IV (1577-1648) and took Holstein from him. Christian backed out of the internal struggles of the empire and got Holstein back as his reward.

All of this fighting was serving to consolidate the power of the Hapsburg family in the Holy Roman Empire. The empire had long been a very loose conglomeration of states, nearby nation states began to consider unification a problem. France, under Cardinal Richelieu, though a Catholic state began to support the Protestants. The Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, decided to intervene directly: to aggrandize some territory, knock the Hapsburgs down a peg or two, and to defend his Lutheran religion. Gustavus was a superb general, and made many tactical military innovations that made his army more maneuverable. He won several victories, throwing the Hapsburgs on the defensive. Nevertheless, he was killed at the battle of Lutzen and the Hapsburgs again gained the upper hand. By 1635, a treaty was signed which was very favorable to the Holy Roman Emperor.

The general shift in focus of the war should be noted here. The Thirty Years War began as a religious struggle, with dynastic and political factors in the background. As the war progressed, politics played a bigger and bigger part. The interest of nation states became primary. This was why in 1635 the French, led for the most part by a Catholic Cardinal, Richelieu, entered the war on the side of the Protestant princes.

The entrance of France into the struggle tipped the balance in favor of the rebellious Protestant princes. But still the war continued on and on. This was partly due to the fact that princes, kings, and emperors did not have enough money to pay their troops. The troops banded together to get money and supplies the only way they knew how, which was to continue pillaging the regions being invaded. Many kings were afraid to make peace, because they did not want these barely controllable armies to return to their own territories. Thus the war continued in a desultory fashion until 1648. The final Treaty of Westphalia proved beneficial to France, Sweden, and Brandenburg (Prussia). It also legitimized the Calvinists in Germany. The Holy Roman Empire became a mere shell. The title of emperor became virtually meaningless.

The 30 Years War would be the last major war between Catholics and Protestants in Europe. However, there would still be struggles among religious protagonists in various regions such as Northern Ireland, Russia, and the Balkans. Ultimately, religion would become more and more a matter of individual conscience and less a matter of state control. It would be found that religious diversity within a state was not detrimental. In fact, persecution of religious sects in both Spain and France (under Louis XIV) proved economically ruinous. Though some individuals saw benefits by plundering the persecuted, in general, pogroms and virtual forced emigration hurt the power of the state because manpower and expertise was suddenly drained from the country. Tolerant countries thereby benefited from the influx of highly skilled workers.

Were the wars of religion a cathartic that drained the animus of religious difference in Europe? Perhaps it had this effect. People came to see that the cost of the struggles that destroyed the economies and peoples of vast regions was too high a price to pay for unified belief (which proved impossible to enforce in any case). In fact, persecution often tended to provoke fanaticism on the part of persecuted sects. From this time forward, although nations would invoke God for protection or to bring victory in conflict, religion would play a largely moderating role in the relations between European states.

At the same time that religious strife was playing itself out on the continent it was also playing a part in Britain. Although the English Civil War and the subsequent struggles were ultimately about the power of the King verses the power of the people, nobility, and gentry, it was tinged with religious strife throughout.

1,400 Years of Christian/Islamic Struggle: An Analysis

I was very disappointed to see that U.S. News would publish a clearly false article, adopting the world's clearly false, politically correct (PC) view of the place of the Crusades in history. What makes it even worse, the article hides its views under the additional headline falsehood, "The Truth About the Epic Clash Between Christianity and Islam."

The opening heading states, "During the Crusades, East and West first met." This is just totally in error, as any person with the slightest knowledge of history well knows. East and West had been fighting for at least 1,500 years before the first Crusade.

To give just a few examples -- the Persians invaded Europe in an attempt to conquer the Greeks in the fifth century B.C. The Greek, Alexander the Great, attempted to conquer all of Asia, as far as India, in the fourth century B.C. Both the Persians of the east and the Greeks of the west set up colonial empires founded upon bloody military conquest. The Romans established by bloody military conquest colonies in Mesopotamia, northwestern Arabia, and Assyria in the second century A.D.

A different type of bloody conquest occurred through the movement of whole tribal groups between the east and the west. Again, just to name a few, the Huns, the Goths, and the Avars came from as far away as western Asia, central Asia, and China respectively in the fifth through the seventh centuries A.D. Indeed, the Avars from northern China and Mongolia were besieging Constantinople in 626 A.D., at the very moment Mohammed was a merchant in Arabia. Indeed, the Avars, by this siege, were one of the forces that weakened the Byzantines (there were many other, perhaps more important, forces) to the extent that most of the Byzantine mid-eastern empire fell relatively easily to the Muslims.

But let's give the writer the benefit of the doubt and say that the author meant that "During the Crusades, Islam and Christianity first met." This, of course, is also totally false.

Let us review the Muslim conquest. In 624, Mohammed led a raid for booty and plunder against a Meccan caravan, killing 70 Meccans for mere material gain. Between 630 A.D. and the death of Mohammed in 632 A.D., Muslims -- on at least one occasion led by Mohammed -- had conquered the bulk of western Arabia and southern Palestine through approximately a dozen separate invasions and bloody conquests. These conquests were in large part "Holy wars," putting the lie to another statement in the U.S. News article that proclaimed the Crusades "The First Holy War," as if the Christians had invented the concept of a holy war. After Mohammed's death in 632, the new Muslim caliph, Abu Bakr, launched Islam into almost 1,500 years of continual imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of others through invasion and war, a role Islam continues to this very day.

You will note the string of adjectives and may have some objection to my using them. They are used because they are the absolute truth. Anyone denying them is a victim of PC thinking, ignorant of history, or lying to protect Islam. Let us take each word separately before we proceed further in our true history of the relationship between the Christian west and the Islamic east.


The Muslim wars of imperialist conquest have been launched for almost 1,500 years against hundreds of nations, over millions of square miles (significantly larger than the British Empire at its peak). The lust for Muslim imperialist conquest stretched from southern France to the Philippines, from Austria to Nigeria, and from central Asia to New Guinea. This is the classic definition of imperialism -- "the policy and practice of seeking to dominate the economic and political affairs of weaker countries."


The Muslim goal was to have a central government, first at Damascus, and then at Baghdad -- later at Cairo, Istanbul, or other imperial centers. The local governors, judges, and other rulers were appointed by the central imperial authorities for far off colonies. Islamic law was introduced as the senior law, whether or not wanted by the local people. Arabic was introduced as the rulers' language, and the local language frequently disappeared. Two classes of residents were established. The native residents paid a tax that their colonialist rulers did not have to pay.

Although the law differed in different places, the following are examples of colonialist laws to which colonized Christians and Jews were made subject to over the years:

  • Christians and Jews could not bear arms -- Muslims could
  • Christians and Jews could not ride horses -- Muslims could
  • Christians and Jews had to get permission to build -- Muslims did not
  • Christians and Jews had to pay certain taxes which Muslims did not
  • Christians could not proselytize -- Muslims could
  • Christians and Jews had to bow to their Muslim masters when they paid their taxes and
  • Christians and Jews had to live under the law set forth in the Koran, not under either their own religious or secular law.

In each case, these laws allowed the local conquered people less freedom than was allowed the conquering colonialist rulers. Even non-Arab Muslim inhabitants of the conquered lands became second class citizens behind the ruling Arabs. This is the classic definition of colonialist -- "a group of people who settle in a distant territory from the state having jurisdiction or control over it and who remain under the political jurisdiction of their native land."

We will talk about "bloody" as we proceed. Because the U.S. News article related only to the Christian west against the Muslim east, except in this paragraph I will not describe the almost 1,500 years of Muslim imperialistic, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of others through invasion and war to the east of Arabia in Iraq, Persia, and much further eastward, which continues to this day.

In any event, because it was the closest geographically, Palestine was the first Western non-Arab area invaded in the Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of others. At the time, Palestine was under the rule of the so-called Eastern Roman Empire, ruled from Istanbul by Greek speaking people, and was Eastern Orthodox Catholic. The Eastern Orthodox rule was despotic and the Eastern Roman Empire was in serious decline. The Eastern Orthodox rulers were despots, and in Palestine had subjugated the large population of local Jews and Monophysite Christians. Because the Orthodox were imperialist, colonialist, and bloody, and majored in religious persecution to boot, the Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of Palestine, and then Egypt, was made easier. Because of Orthodox weakness and the relative speed of the conquest of Palestine and Israel, I have often seen this Muslim, imperialist, colonialist bloody conquest described by Muslim and PC writers as "peaceful" or "bloodless." This statement is simply not true.

The Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest and subjugation of Palestine began with a battle, the August 20, 636, battle of Yarmk (it is believed that 75,000 soldiers took part -- hardly bloodless). With the help of the local Jews who welcomed the Muslims as liberators, the Muslims had subjugated the remainder of Palestine but had not been able to capture Jerusalem. Beginning in July 637, the Muslims began a siege of Jerusalem which lasted for five (hardly bloodless) months before Jerusalem fell in February 638. Arabs did not sack the city, and the Arab soldiers were apparently kept in tight control by their leaders. No destruction was permitted. This was indeed a triumph of civilized control, if imperialism, colonization, and bloody conquest can ever be said to be "civilized." It was at this conquest that many significant hallmarks of Muslim colonialism began. The conquered Christian and Jewish people were made to pay a tribute to the colonialist Muslims. In addition, Baghdad used the imperialist, colonialist, bloody wars of conquest throughout the life of its empire to provide the Caliphate with a steady stream of slaves, many of whom were made eunuchs.

The Muslim conquest of (Christian) North Africa went relatively easily until the native peoples of North Africa (most importantly the Berbers) were encountered west of Egypt. The North African people fought so strongly against the Muslims that the Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest in the west was brought to an almost complete stop between Tripoli and Carthage for more than a quarter century. The Muslims broke through in a series of bloody battles followed by bloody (revenge) massacres of the Muslim's (largely Christian) opponents. This Muslim imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquest continued through North Africa and through what is now Spain, Portugal, and southern France, until they were stopped at the battle of Poiters (hardly bloodless) in the middle of France.

I believe that if I had the time, I could show that the Muslims, in their western imperialist, colonialist, bloody conquests, killed two to three times as many Christians as the Christians killed Muslims in all of the Crusades combined.

But let us return to Jerusalem.

The U.S. News article states that after Saladin conquered Jerusalem, "the victorious Saladin forbade acts of vengeance. There were no more deaths, no violence." True, as far as it goes. The article goes on to say, "most Muslims [will] tell you about Saladin and his generosity in the face of Christian aggression and hatred." Thus, the PC people and the Muslims ignore 450 years of prior Muslim aggression and approach the Crusades as being Christian or Western aggression against Islam, beginning out of the blue, without any prior history. Let us go back to the Muslim colonialist occupation of Jerusalem.

When we left our truthful history of Jerusalem, the Muslims, headquartered in Arabia, had just captured Jerusalem. For approximately 100 years, chiefly under the Umayyads, Jerusalem prospered under Muslim rule. Under the succeeding Abbasids, Jerusalem began to decline -- beginning at approximately 725 A.D. The occasion, among other things, was the decline of the central Muslim government, the breaking away from Arabia of far-flung provinces, the growth of warlike revolutionary groups, the growth of extremist Muslim sects, and, perhaps most important, the decision (relatively new) that Muslims had an obligation to convert all Christians and Jews (and "other pagans") to Islam. Thereafter, the true colonial nature of Jerusalem became more apparent. The Abbasids drained wealth from Jerusalem to Baghdad for the benefit of the caliphs, and Jerusalem declined economically. The language of the government became Arabic, and forcible conversion to Islam became the Muslim policy.

In approximately 750, the Caliph destroyed the walls of Jerusalem, leaving it defenseless (they were later rebuilt, in time to defend against the Crusaders). The history of the following three hundred years is too complex and too tangled to describe in a single paragraph. Jerusalem and its Christian and Jewish majority suffered greatly during alternating periods of peace and war. Among the happenings were repeated Muslim destruction of the countryside of Israel (970-983, and 1024-1077) of Jerusalem the wholesale destruction by the Muslims of Christian churches -- sometimes at the direct order of the Caliph, as in 1003, and sometimes by Muslim mobs the total destruction of Jerusalem by the Caliph of Cairo in the early 1020s building small mosques on the top of Christian churches enforcing the Muslim laws limiting the height of Christian churches attacking and robbing Christian pilgrims from Europe attacking Christian processions in the streets of Jerusalem etc.

Why the change after nearly 100 years of mostly peaceful Muslim rule? From what I read, there is a general view among the historians that the caliphs had begun to add a religious importance to their conquests, setting conversion to Islam as an important priority their later caliphs had no first-hand remembrance of Mohammed the vast distances of the empire led to independent rulers being established in Spain, North Africa, Cairo, Asia Minor, etc. and the instability of the caliphates and resulting civil wars.

The point about conversion to Islam I find particularly interesting. Many historians believe that the first one hundred years of Muslim conquest were imperialist and colonialist only with little significant forced conversion content. With respect to Jerusalem, there was a particular problem in the fact that generally the Christians and their churches (and to a lesser degree, the Jews) were significantly wealthier than the Muslims. This was largely because beginning in the early 800s with Charlemaigne, Europe adopted a sort of prototype "foreign aid" program for the churches located at the holy places in Jerusalem, where, to the embarrassment of the Muslims, Christian churches and monasteries outshone their Muslim rivals. Many of these churches and monasteries were run by western religious orders reporting directly to Rome under western leaders appointed by Rome (more were subject to Constantinople). Literally thousands of European Christian pilgrims made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem from such places as Germany, France, and Hungary (particularly in the years 1000, 1033, 1064, and 1099). Finally, Muslim rulers and European rulers frequently sought to enter into treaties of support with each other. As a result, Christian churches became the target of Muslims when enemies of those with whom there were European ties were victorious in a civil war. From time to time, Christian churches were rebuilt with Muslim funds when pro-western rulers came to power.

So much for the PC, U.S. News, Muslim outright lie that begins with the statement, "During the Crusades, East and West first met," and that later in the article called the Crusades, "the first major clash between Islam and Western Christendom." What about the long, prior conquest by Islam of Spain and Portugal? What about the battle of Portiers?

The following is just an aside, which I cannot prove, but I have noticed that PC and Muslim statements frequently cut off history when it is not in their favor. Thus, the article gives credence to the widespread belief in Islam that east-west history began with the Crusades. See also as an example of this tendency to begin history where it is convenient, today's Muslim description of the current Israeli occupation of the West Bank without mentioning the fact that the current occupation was caused by the widespread cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians by Muslims.

But let us move on to the Crusades themselves.

The Crusades

First, a word about my personal view of the Crusades. I believe that the murderous and pillaging acts of the Crusaders when they entered Jerusalem were barbaric, unchristian, and evil. This is particularly so as those barbaric, unchristian, and evil acts were carried on in the name of a religion of peace, love, and forgiveness. I believe that the vast bulk of thinking Christians agree with me. I cite as evidence the large numbers of Christians who have recently taken long pilgrimages in the footsteps of the Crusaders, repenting for the Crusader's acts, seeking for forgiveness, and giving penance for the Crusader's barbaric, unchristian, and evil acts.

A question occurs to me here. How many Muslim groups have taken long pilgrimages in the footsteps of the Muslim conquest repenting, seeking for forgiveness, and giving penance for the Muslims imperialist, colonialist, and bloody conquest of Palestine, Egypt, Syria, North Africa, and Spain? This is particularly important as the U.S. News article claims, "For [Muslims] imperialism is a dirty word" Where is Muslim repentance for its imperialism, geographically the largest in all of history, which permits Muslims to call Western imperialism a dirty word?

Let us rewrite the beginning of the U.S. News article as follows: "In 1095, after suffering from the murderous invasions of Muslim conquerors who killed tens of thousands of Christians through four-and-one-half centuries of Muslim imperialist, colonialist conquest, made slaves and eunuchs of Christians for the pleasure of the caliphs, burned down or sacked the holiest churches in Christendom, robbed and killed thousands of Christians on holy pilgrimage, brutally sacked and pillaged Jerusalem, and pillaged the countryside of Israel, western Europe, under the leadership of the Pope, decided to free the people of the Holy Land from their brutal masters and reclaim Christianity's holiest places for free Christian worship."

Now, I fully realize that the previous paragraph is one-sided, that the six centuries of Muslim colonial, imperialist occupation were more complex than are shown in the previous paragraphs, and that the Christians were not always blameless, little babes. However, the previous paragraph has the benefit of not being an outright lie, which is more than I can say for the U.S. News article.

To beat the dog one more time, you may have noted that I stated above that Muslim imperialism has continued until the present. Muslim imperialism has continued without any let-up from ten years before Mohammed's death until today.

Consider the Ottoman invasion of Christian Eastern Europe in which the Ottoman Empire invaded the west and conquered and colonized Greece, all of the Balkans, Romania, Bessarabia, and Hungary, and was stopped only at the outskirts of Vienna in 1529. Consider also the Muhgal conquest of Northern India in the early 1600s. But today? Of course! In the 20th century alone:

1. Muslim Turkey has expelled approximately 1,500,000 Greeks from its empire in the east and replaced them with Turks. They have massacred approximately 2 million Armenians and replaced them with Turks in the west.

2. Muslim Turkey has invaded and occupied northern Cyprus, displacing the Greeks living there.

3. Muslim northern Sudan has conquered much of southern Sudan, literally enslaving its Christian and pagan population.

4. Indonesian imperialism has occupied all of non-Islamic western New Guinea and incorporated into Indonesia.

5. Muslim Indonesia has invaded and conquered Christian East Timor with horrible loss of life.

6. This very day, Muslim Indonesia is attempting to destroy Christianity in what used to be called the Celebes.

7. A half-dozen Arab countries have fought two to four wars (depending how you count) in an attempt to destroy Israel and occupy its territory, and is currently continuing the attempt this very day with the publicly voted consent of 55 of the world's 57 Islamic nations.

8. For no good reason, Muslim Libya has blown up western aircraft, killing many civilians.

9. Muslim Iraq, in an imperialist war of aggression, invaded and occupied Muslim Kuwait.

10. Muslim Iraq, in an imperialist act of aggression, invaded Muslim Iran with a resulting (some estimates say) death of 2 million people.

11. Muslim Albania, this very minute, is attempting to enlarge its borders at Christian Macedonia's expense.

12. Muslim Northern Nigeria has been (and is currently) an aggressor against the Christian south.

13. Muslims expelled approximately 800,000 Jews from their homelands between 1947 and 1955.

14. During Jordan's occupation of the West Bank, the kingdom undertook an unsuccessful attempt to make Jerusalem a Muslim city by forcing out approximately 10,000 Christian inhabitants.

Yes, I know that the reverse has been true. For example, Christian Serbia entered and massacred Bosnian Muslims. The western response was instructive. The west sent troops to protect the Muslims. Serbia gave up its leader to be tried for the crime by an international panel. Will Indonesia do the same with respect to Timor? Or Sudan with respect to southern Sudan?

Question: What is the title of the shortest book in the world? Answer: "The list of Muslim nations who have risked the lives of their soldiers to protect (as with the U.S. protection of Muslims in Kuwait) Christian or Jewish citizens from Muslim imperialism."

Yes, I also know that in the 20th century the west fought two of the bloodiest wars in history. But in the past more than 55 years, the west has developed methods that have led to peace among the west, and all but totally ended western imperialism and colonialism. With former colonies having a large majority in the UN, and the example of the west before it, Islam has continued its imperialist, colonial, bloody wars unabated.

One final point. Muslims base their claim to the city of Jerusalem upon the belief that Jerusalem has been a Muslim city for centuries. It may be that Muslims were never a majority in Jerusalem. We cannot prove this for all time periods, but we know that Muslims were a minority in the first several centuries after the Muslim imperialist conquest and during the century of Christian occupation during the Crusades. And we know that in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem was not considered important to the Muslims, but it was to the Christians and Jews. The Muslims made cities other than Jerusalem the capital of their Palestinian colony. Many Caliphs never even visited Jerusalem. Therefore, there was a steady stream of Jewish and Christian (but not Muslim) immigrants into Jerusalem throughout the Middle Ages, including a major immigration of Karaite Jews in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, and a steady stream of Armenians for hundreds of years, until there were so many Armenians that an Armenian Quarter was established in Jerusalem. Finally, we know that for at least more than the last 160 years, Muslims were a clear minority in Jerusalem. The Muslim Ottomans, and then the British and Israelis, kept careful census record showing the following percentages of Muslim population in Jerusalem:

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Holy wars

Modern people often regard the idea of a holy war as a contradiction. Killing thousands of people and causing wholesale destruction seems to be as far from holiness as one can get.

But religion and war have gone hand in hand for a long time. Armies go into battle believing that God is with them, often after prayers and sacrifices to keep God on their side. In tribal cultures (including Biblical ones) when a people lose a war they often have to change to the worship of the winner's gods.

However involving God as part of the campaign does not make a war a holy war - for a war to be a holy war, religion has to be the driving force.

Holy wars usually have three elements:

  • the achievement of a religious goal
  • authorised by a religious leader
  • a spiritual reward for those who take part

Many of the wars fought in the name of religion do conform to the just war conditions, but not all of them.

Religious causes

Francis Bacon said there were five causes for holy war: (he wrote in a Christian context, but the categories would be usable by any faith)

  • to spread the faith
  • to retrieve countries that were once Christian, even though there are no Christians left there
  • to rescue Christians in countries that were once Christian from 'the servitude of the infidels'
  • recover and purify consecrated places that are presently being 'polluted and profaned'
  • avenge blasphemous acts, or cruelties and killings of Christians (even if these took place long ago)

Only the first of these causes is completely outside the scope of the conventional idea of a just cause. Some of the other causes, because of the length of time that can pass since the offending act took place are probably not just causes either.

Lawful authority

The legitimate authority for a holy war is not the government of a state (except in a theocracy) but the Church, or the relevant organisation or person who heads the religious institution concerned.

In ancient times the authority was often God - in the Bible there are several occasions where God gave direct instructions to peoples to wage war. This would not be the case today.

Personal reward

The third condition of a holy war is a spiritual reward for those who take part. The doctrine of the just war does not refer to any personal rewards for the participants - and such rewards would be against such a generally austere doctrine.


The first holy war was probably in October 312 CE when the Roman emperor Constantine saw a vision of the cross in the sky with this inscription "in hoc signo vinces" (in this sign you will win).

Constantine trusted the vision and had the cross inscribed on his soldiers' armor. Even though his forces were outnumbered, he won the battle against an army that was using pagan enchantment. (Historians regard this as a turning point in Christianity's fortune.)

The Crusades

The great series of western holy wars were the Crusades, which lasted from 1095 until 1291 CE. The aim was to capture the sacred places in the Holy Land from the Muslims who lived there, so it was intended as a war to right wrongs done against Christianity.

The first Crusade was started by Pope Urban II in 1095. He raged at the capture of the holy places and the treatment given to Christians, and ordered a war to restore Christianity. He said that the war would have the support of God:

Let this be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!

..Whoever shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast.

The pope also absolved all who took part in the crusade of all their sins.

The first Crusade captured Jerusalem after bitter fighting, and the residents of the city were brutalised and slaughtered by the Christian invaders. The invaders' conduct breached the principles of modern just war ethics, and the massacres still colour Islamic politics today.

Pagan belief

Silver Thor's hammer amulet, possibly worn for protection while at sea © We know almost nothing about pagan religious practices in the Viking Age. There is little contemporary evidence, and although there are occasional references to paganism in the Viking sagas - mostly composed in Iceland in the 13th century - we have to remember that these were written down 200 years after the conversion to Christianity. We know that chieftains also had some sort of role as priests, and that pagan worship involved the sacrifice of horses, but not much more.

We know rather more about the stories associated with the pagan gods. Besides occasional references in early poems, these stories survived after conversion because it was possible to regard them simply as myths, rather than as the expression of religious beliefs. The main sources of evidence are the Eddas, wonderful literary works which represent the old pagan beliefs as folk tales. Even here there is some Christian influence. For example, the chief god Odin was sacrificed to himself by being hanged on a tree and pierced in the side with a spear, and this was followed by a sort of resurrection a few days later - a clear parallel with Christ's crucifixion.

Even so, the Eddas provide a huge amount of information about the ®sir (gods), and their relationship with giants, men and dwarfs. The most powerful god was the one-eyed Odin, the Allfather, god of warfare, justice, death, wisdom and poetry. Probably the most popular god, however, was Thor, who was stupid but incredibly strong. With his hammer Miollnir, crafted by the dwarfs, he was the main defender of the gods against the giants. He was also the god of thunder, and he was particularly worshipped by seafarers. Amulets of Thor's hammer were popular throughout the Viking world. The brother and sister Frey and Freyja, the god and goddess of fertility, were also important, and there were many other minor gods and goddesses.

The Wars of Religion, Part I

The religious wars began with overt hostilities in 1562 and lasted until the Edict of Nantes in 1598. It was warfare that devastated a generation, although conducted in rather desultory, inconclusive way. Although religion was certainly the basis for the conflict, it was much more than a confessional dispute.

"Une foi, un loi, un roi," (one faith, one law, one king). This traditional saying gives some indication of how the state, society, and religion were all bound up together in people's minds and experience. There was not the distinction that we have now between public and private, between civic and personal. Religion had formed the basis of the social consensus of Europe for a millenium. Since Clovis, the French monarchy in particular had closely tied itself to the church -- the church sanctified its right to rule in exchange for military and civil protection. France was "the first daughter of the church" and its king "The Most Christian King" (le roy tres chretien), and no one could imagine life any other way.

"One faith" was viewed as essential to civil order -- how else would society hold together? And without the right faith, pleasing to God who upholds the natural order, there was sure to be disaster. Heresy was treason, and vice versa. Religious toleration, which to us seems such a necessary virtue in public life, was considered tantamount to letting drug dealers move next door and corrupt your children, a view for the cynical and world-weary who had forgotten God and no longer cared about the health of society.

Innovation caused trouble. The way things were is how they ought to be, and new ideas would lead to anarchy and destruction. No one wanted to admit to being an "innovater." The Renaissance thought of itself as rediscovering a purer, earlier time and the Reformation needed to feel that it was not new, but just a "return" to the simple, true religion of the beginnings of Christianity.

These fears of innovation certainly seemed justified when Henri II died suddenly in 1559, leaving an enormous power vacuum at the heart of social authority in France. The monarchy had never been truly absolute (although François I er made long strides in that direction), and had always ruled in an often uneasy relationship with the nobility. The nobles' sense of their own rights as a class, and the ambitions of some of the more talented, were always there to threaten the hegemony of the crown.

When the vacuum appeared, the House of Guise moved in. François II, although only 15, was married to Mary Queen of Scots, a niece of the Duc de Guise. The Guise were a cadet branch of the House of Lorraine (an independent imperial duchy) that were raised to the peerage by François I er . They were ambitious and had already produced at least two generations of exceptional leaders. The duc de Guise, François, was a military hero, and his brother, the Cardinal de Lorraine, was a formidable scholar and statesman. During François II's brief reign, Guise power was absolute.

This greatly threatened the House of Montmorency, an ancient line which had enjoyed great political prominence under Henri II, as well as the Bourbons, who as the first princes of the blood had the rights of tutorship over a minor king. François II was not technically a minor (14 was the age of majority), but he was young and sickly and no one expected much from him.

These dynastic tensions interweave with the religious and social ones. The Bourbon princes were Protestant (the Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre and the Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé), and although the constable de Montmorency was Catholic, his nephews, the Châtillon brothers (including Admiral de Coligny) were Protestants. The Guise identified themselves strongly as defenders of the Catholic faith and formed an alliance with Montmorency and the Marechal St. André to form the "Catholic triumvirate." They were joined by Antoine de Bourbon, who flip-flopped again on the matter of his religion. His wife, Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen of Navarre, remained staunchly Protestant and established Protestantism completely in her domains.

Catherine de' Medici tried to promote peace by issuing the "Edict of Toleration" in January '62, which made the practice of Protestantism not a crime, although it was restricted to preaching in open fields outside the towns and to the private estates of Huguenot (Protestant) nobles. This was not well-received by many Catholics.

The First War (1562-1563)

The national synod for the reformed church met in Paris and appealed to the Prince de Condé to become the "Protector of the Churches." He, his clients, and their respective client networks took on the task, and from this point the leadership of the Huguenots moves away from the pastors towards the noble "protectors", and takes on a more militant tone. Condé mobilizes his forces quickly and moves decisively to capture strategic towns along the waterways, highways, and crossroads of France. He takes a string of towns along the Loire and makes his headquarters at Orléans. He also contracts with Protestant leaders of Germany and England for troops and money.

The royal forces are slower to respond, as the permanent garrisons are located along the Habsburg frontiers. Catherine de' Medici was forced to turn to the Guise faction to deal with this alarming development. The Guise in turn sought help from the Pope and Phillip II of Spain. The Protestants were well dug-in in their garrisons, and the siege efforts to recapture the towns were long and costly. Only one open pitched battle was fought: that at Dreux which was a Catholic victory. At it, the Protestants captured Montmorency, the Catholics captured Condé. The young Admiral de Coligny managed to safely withdraw most of the Protestant forces to Orléans, which was then beseiged during the winter of '62-'63.

At Orléans, the Duc de Guise was killed by an assassin. Antoine de Bourbon had been previously killed at the siege of Rouen, and this last casualty pretty much eliminated the first generation of Catholic leadership. With the Huguenot heartland in the south virtually untouched and the royal treasury hemorrhaging, the crown's position was weak and Catherine bent her efforts towards a settlement. The noble prisoners were exchanged, and the edict of Amboise issued in March '63. This restricted Protestant freedoms somewhat, allowing worship outside the walls of only one town per bailliage , although the nobility still had the freedom to do as they would on their estates. This increased the resentment and tension in the towns and was generally unsatisfying to most.

The Second War (1567-1568)

The Third War (1568-1570)

The Protestant strategy this time was to fortify the Southwest and stand off the crown. This was reasonably successful for a fairly long time. However, at Jarnac, under the nominal leadership of the king's younger brother, Henri d'Anjou, the Protestants suffered a great defeat and the Prince de Condé was killed. Coligny met the Catholics at Moncoutour and suffered another defeat. However, he collected his forces and made a brilliant "long march" across the south of France, defeating the royal army on at least one occasion and depriving the crown of their chance to break the Protestant hold on the South.

The cost of keeping the army in the field was telling on the crown again, and yet another peace was negotiated at St. Germain. This peace was more favorable to the Protestants than the previous, naming specific towns as secure strongholds, returning confiscated property to Huguenots, and guaranteeing some equality before the law. This third war was more protracted, and brought the war to the rural areas in central and southern France, spreading the suffering to the population and raising the cultural tensions between Catholics and Protestants.

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572)

Protestant rhetoric had become increasingly revolutionary in the late 60's, with leading thinkers advocating that Christians did not have the obligation to obey leaders who themselves defied God. Calvin himself came to the conclusion, after advocating for many years that obedience to the civil authorities was a Christian duty, that a prince that persecuted the church had forfeited his right to be obeyed. François Hotman's Francogallia was written during this time (although not published until 1573). It advocated the existence of a mythical Frankish constitution whereby the kings of France were elected by the people and governed only through their consent. This was all very frightening and served to unite the Protestant faith with treason in the mind of the average person.

Along with these more abstract issues, tension between Catholics and Protestants had some more mundane economic and social elements. Protestants were often represented in the newer and more lucrative trades, such as printing, out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. The Protestant emphasis on literacy as the basis for understanding the Bible made for a generally better educated group. Protestantism was more an urban than a rural phenomenon (except in the Southwest), one well-suited to capitalists and merchants. For example, the 100 or so Catholic feast days that they didn't celebrate made for more days to do business. This wasn't viewed as being much of an advantage by the peasants, but was viewed as an unfair advantage by other Catholic townsmen.

The years of persecution had created a cell-like structure of congregations, consistories, and synods where people in the group stuck together and helped each other, both in matters of religion and everyday business. Like that other minority in Europe, the Jews, this engendered a feeling of suspicion about their "secret" organization.

The participation of women in the church service, with men and women singing together and studying the Bible, was viewed with a range of emotions: from a sign that society was collapsing when cobblers and women could debate the meaning of the Bible (even the Protestants were sometimes alarmed at the effects of their doctrine about "the priesthood of all believers"), to a conviction that Protestant worship must involve some kind of orgiastic rituals.

Prices had also risen very sharply between the beginning of the century and the 1560s, especially the prices of food, fuel, and shelter. This might seem irrelevant to matters of religion, but the sense of stress about making ends meet, increasing homelessness and poverty in the towns, a sense of anxiety about the future, and all the other things that go with this kind of economic pressure make for a fearful and hostile society looking for scapegoats.

Many Catholics felt that the toleration of heresy in their midst was like a disease in the body of Christ that threatened the very contract between God and his people. There was an increasing rhetoric among the popular preachers to purge this infection to restore God's favor and with it, social stability.

All of this tension is important background to the watershed event of the wars: the evening of August 23, 1572 -- the feast of St. Bartholomew. The 19 year-old Henri de Navarre and Margot de Valois were married in Paris on August 17 and the festivities were still going on. The entire Huguenot leadership came to Paris for this wedding. Henri himself brought 800 mounted noblemen in his train.

On August 22, as Admiral de Coligny was returning to his lodgings from a visit with the king, an assassin fired at him, breaking his arm and wounding him severely, but not killing him outright. The Huguenots were outraged and demanded justice from the king. Everyone suspected the Guises of the attack. When various Huguenot leaders counselled Coligy to flee the city -- certainly at this time they could have easily made it to the safety of a Protestant stronghold -- he reputedly refused, feeling that it would show a lack of trust in the king. However, the Huguenots were threatening riot in the streets if something wasn't done, and it was a very hot summer.

At some point during the night of August 23, the decision was taken at the Louvre to kill Coligny and the Huguenot leaders gathered around him. Charles IX was certainly there, Catherine de' Medici, Henri d'Anjou. It may not have been originally intended to be a general massacre. Charles IX was reputedly badgered into this decision by Catherine and his councillors, and when he finally broke he is alleged to have said, "Well, then kill them all that no man be left to reproach me."

During the early hours of Sunday morning, a troop of soldiers came to Coligny's door. They killed the guard that opened the door, and rushed through the house. Coligny was dragged from his bed, stabbed, and thrown out the window to the pavement below. Reputedly the Duc de Guise mocked the body, kicking him in the face and announcing that this was the king's will. Rumors ran thick and fast, and somehow the militia and the general population went on a rampage, believing themselves to be fully sanctioned by the king and the church. Catholics identified themselves with white crosses on their hats, and went around butchering their neighbors. The neighborhood militias played a very significant role in the slaughter. The killing went on for 3 days or so, with the city councillors and the king unable to bring the whole thing under control. There are numerous tales of atrocities, occasional ones of courage and compassion. Historians have debated what really happened and why in excruciating detail ever since.

The Louvre itself was not immune. Henri de Navarre slept in his bridal suite with an entourage of 40 Huguenot gentlemen, all of whom were killed. Henri and his cousin, the Prince de Condé (another Henri, the son of the late Louis who had been the champion of the churches), were dragged before the king and threatened with death if they did not convert. They did, and Navarre became a prisoner of the court for the next four years, living in constant fear of his life.

The massacres spread to the provinces over the next few months. Some thought they had directives from the crown to kill all the Protestants, others thought there was no such thing. The actions of the governors and mayors depended very much on the individuals and the circumstances in their areas. Areas with vocal Protestant minorities often suffered the most.

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, as it came to be known, destroyed an entire generation of Huguenot leadership. Henri de Navarre was a prisoner, not yet a known quality as a leader. Condé eventually escaped to Germany, and Andelot, Coligny's younger brother, was an exile in Switzerland. Although it wasn't clear at the time, this was the beginning of the decline of the Protestant church in France. In spite of the wars, the '60s had seen an enthusiastic growth in the Religion. Over the months following, many Protestants despaired and abjured their faith. The experience radicalised many of the survivors, creating a profound distrust of the king, an unwillingness to disarm, and an upsurge in the political rhetoric of resistance. Works with titles like The Defense of Liberty against Tyrants were to come off the Huguenot presses.

The Huguenot "state within a state" became solidified, as the churches organized themselves into an efficient hierarchy for communications and self-protection. They collected their own tithes, maintained their own armies and garrisons, and provided for the governance and social welfare of the Protestant communities.

The Fourth War (1572-1573)

The Fifth War (1576)

Meanwhile, Condé was raising money, troops, and support from the German princes, particularly Jan Casimir, the son of Frederick III of the Palatine. Henri de Montmonrency, the Sieur de Damville, Governor of Languedoc, who ruled his region as like an "uncrowned king of the south," brought another substantial army to the Protestant side. Although he himself was Catholic, the Languedoc was a heavily Protestant region and he was related to the Coligny brothers. In February '76 Navarre escaped from the court and headed into his own territory, raising an army behind him. The king's younger brother, the Duc d'Alençon, the last of the Valois sons, began to play to the anti-royalist factions. His propagandists put out manifestos portraying him as alternative ruler to the current king, one able to speak up for the rights of the people and rule more justly -- cutting taxes all the while, of course.

This was a potent alliance, one for which Catherine had no good counter at the time. When 20,000 troops invaded France under Jan Casimir in the spring of '76 and these various armies collected themselves together in the heart of France within striking distance of Paris, the crown was forced to negotiate. The Edict of Beaulieu, otherwise known as the Peace of Monsieur ("Monsieur" being the traditional title for the reigning king's next-oldest brother) was signed in May and was very favorable to the Protestants. In separate private agreements, the leaders got substantial settlements: Navarre was confirmed as Governor of Guyenne, Condé was made Governor of Picardy, Alençon was made Duc d'Anjou and given a raft of titles, and the crown agreed to pay the bills for Jan Casimir's mercenaries. It left Henri III smarting. The Parlement of Paris refused to register it, and some of the towns ceded to the Protestants refused to admit their troops. Picardy, for example, refused to admit Condé to his capital.

The Sixth War (1577)

This year saw the formation of the first attempt at a Catholic League to oppose the Protestants if the king would not. To coopt this threat to his authority, Henri III declared himself the head of it. However, somehow a royal force was put together to take back some of the Protestant towns along the Loire. La Charité fell in May of '77, but the bulk of the Protestant forces were at large in the South and there was no hope of a victory over them. The Peace of Bergerac was signed in July. It was more restrictive in allowing places of worship to the Protestants than the previous peace, but was still largely the same. It disallowed any leagues and associations, trying to fend off the growing movement from the Catholic right wing.

First War of Religion, 1562-3 - History

Religious toleration existed in some forms in some parts of the thirteen British colonies during some parts of the late eighteenth century. Not many people were members of churches, but the church buildings played important civic and political roles as meeting houses and community/cultural gathering places, so the influence of churches went far beyond the membership. Protestantism, with its various denominations, dominated the colonies as a whole. The Anglican Church (Church of England), later called Episcopalian, was the largest established church in the colonies, particularly strong in the southern and Mid-Atlantic colonies. The next largest church, most heavily concentrated in New England, was the Congregational Church, derived from the Puritan/Calvinist tradition.
Members of a number of Protestant denominations and Christian sects also settled in the thirteen colonies. The Quakers, led by William Penn, presented a significant presence in Pennsylvania, although some were physically abused in areas where they were a minority. Ann Lee brought the "Shaking Quakers," or Shakers, almost as an intact group from England to parts of New York. Lutherans, German Reformed, and Moravians, as well as Presbyterians, brought their religious traditions from Europe to America. Groups like the Baptists and the Methodists, some of whose members were attacked by angry members of other Protestant groups, gained many converts after the Great Awakening. Both before and after the Great Awakening, a massive Christian revival movement that swept the colonies in the 1740's, the numbers of these Protestant dissenters were small, but their influence on the American religious tapestry was profound. Although they were sometimes distrusted and mistreated, most members of Protestant denominations outside the dominant Episcopal and Congregational churches did not face legal discrimination, although many had to pay taxes to a colonial government which supported other churches.
Roman Catholics and Jews, on the other hand, were often subjected to both personal and legal discrimination. Roman Catholics were particularly targeted, even in a colony like Maryland, which had been founded as a haven for Catholics. Called "Papists," they were mistreated largely because of the strong anti-Catholic sentiment in England. This sentiment may have derived from the popularity of King Henry VIII's break with the church in Rome and the remembered terror of the reign of Catholic Queen Mary. Many of the Catholics in the British colonies settled in Maryland, established by the Roman Catholic Lord Baltimore, but the colony's ruling Baltimore family eventually converted to Anglicanism, By the time of the Revolutionary War, the Church of England had been established in the colony, the capital had been moved from Catholic St. Mary to Protestant Annapolis, and Catholics had been deprived of political rights and prevented from holding religious services anywhere but in their own homes.

By 1794, there were only about 35,000 Catholics in the United States. They were slowly accepted in states other than Maryland, but many, especially the Irish, about 75% of whom were Catholic and many of whom were poor, were persecuted. Some Irish Catholic immigrants were or became wealthy, especially in New York and Philadelphia. Many became only nominal Catholics, and others joined Protestant denominations, since there were few Catholic churches or priests in America, and much of the Catholic faith depends of the presence of both churches and priests.
The first Jewish people to come to North America arrived in 1585, but the first Jewish community wasn't established until 1654, in New Amsterdam. By 1775, there were about 2,500 Jews in the colonies, and six Jewish communities in North America: Montreal, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Charles Town (South Carolina), and Savannah.

In the eighteenth century, many British colonies in North America declared Jewish people freemen or allowed them to vote. But, no Jewish person was allowed to hold office in any of the colonies, although, unlike Quakers and Baptists, Jews were generally not beaten or jailed. Most were shopkeepers or artisans, and some were businessmen and merchant-shippers in the larger towns and cities.

Although Christians were generally prejudiced against Jewish people, Jewish-Christian relations were, at least on the surface, relatively good. Various regions and colonies presented different conditions to Jewish settlers. In New England, life was far from easy for Jews. They were denied permission to live in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. After the 1688 "Glorious Revolution" in Britain, however, a more tolerant royal administration took over New England governorships, and the restrictions on Jews in Massachusetts relaxed. Jews were finally allowed to purchase and bequeath homes, serve as witnesses in Boston courts, and act as constables.

Quaker Pennsylvania and Anglican New Jersey allowed Jews residence in the 1600's, and, by the 1700's, they suffered relatively minor restrictions on voting and office-holding. In seventeenth-century Maryland, reactionary anti-Catholic sentiments led to the disenfranchisement of all non-Protestants, including Jews. A blasphemy law and injunctions against Jewish public worship and political rights served to work against freedom for Jews. In Anglican Virginia, Catholics, Dissenters and Jews were equally oppressed. In South Carolina, however, the constitution was framed by John Locke, English liberal political philosopher, who guaranteed Jews freedom of conscience, although Catholics were still excluded from the protection of rights. Thus, the first Jews to immigrate to Charles Town, South Carolina, were already free to worship and own property. In Georgia, Jews were protected by the colonial charter which promised the toleration of all immigrants except Catholics. James Oglethorpe, Governor of the colony, allowed Jews to settle in the fringes of his land, rented the Jewish community a house in which to hold services, and designated a plot of land for a cemetery. Although only Protestants were technically allowed to vote or hold office, Jews were voting by the mid-1700's and, in 1765, two Jewish people were elected port officials of Savannah.

Despite the presence of this range of religious affiliations in the eighteenth century, all the southern colonies, as well as four southern counties of New York, required residents to financially support the Episcopal Church, regardless of the resident's own religion. By 1776, nine of the thirteen colonies still provided public funding for one or more designated Protestant denominations. At the dawn of the Revolutionary War, non-Protestants were still generally considered second-class citizens by the Protestant majority. Religious acceptance and tolerance was far from an absolute reality in the United States, but many immigrants found in the new nation a degree of freedom unavailable in Europe.

Watch the video: FRENCH WARS OF RELIGION (July 2022).


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