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Osprey Essential Histories 47 : The French Religious Wars 1562-1598
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Osprey Essential Histories 47 : The French Religious Wars 1562-1598

The eight French Wars of Religion began in 1562 and lasted for 36 years. As their name suggests, they were fought between Catholics and Protestants, with the French crown traditionally defending the Catholic church and the Protestants fighting for the right to have freedom of worship. But religion was not the only issue at stake. Equally important was the struggle for power between the king and the leading nobles, and the rivalry between the nobles themselves as they vied for control of the king. Shortage of cash with which to pay its troops forced the crown repeatedly to end a campaign prematurely, resulting in unsatisfactory peace settlements that could never hope to last. Like all civil wars, the French Wars of Religion were particularly destructive of property and human life, and the destruction reached its height in the Massacre of St Bartholomew in 1572. This was a Catholic plot to kill all the Protestants in Paris, authorised by Queen Catherine de Medici. Despite a royal command for order, the carnage spread swiftly beyond Paris, and in the final reckoning the number of Protestants who died has been estimated at 10,000. The massacre saw France once more erupt in civil war, but by this stage the great pitched battles had taken their toll, particularly on the officer class, and there was a move to siege warfare where the losses were more evenly spread. The wars witnessed major developments in military technology, notably in respect of artillery, fortification, the use of portable firearms and the employment of foreign mercenaries. Text by Robert Jean Knecht.

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Background to War : Religious Dissent and Aristocratic Discontent
  • Warring Sides : The Crown and the Huguenots
  • Outbreak : The First War : 2 April 1562 - 12 March 1563
  • The Fighting : From the 'Surprise de Meaux' to the Siege of Rouen
  • Portrait of a Soldier : Two Soldier Writers, One Huguenot Captain
  • The World around War : The Impact of the Wars of Religion on France's Neighbours
  • Portrait of a Civilian : A Lawyer, a Surgeon and a Pastor
  • How the War Ended : Henry IV's Conversion
  • Conclusion and Consequences

 

Osprey Essential Histories


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