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Chapter 4 section 2. Absolute Monarchy and France. I. Major Religious Conflict Spreads to France at a High Cost. By 1560’s one in ten people in France were French Calvinist Protestants (also known as Huguenots )

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chapter 4 section 2
Chapter 4 section 2

Absolute Monarchy and France

i major religious conflict spreads to france at a high cost
I. Major Religious Conflict Spreads to France at a High Cost
  • By 1560’s one in ten people in France were French Calvinist Protestants (also known as Huguenots)
    • A large population of the Huguenots consisted of noble families and threatened the Catholic French Monarchy
    • The monarchy adhered to the ideas that all loyal citizens of France should share un, roi, uneloi, unefoi (one king, one law, one religion)

B. The protestant reformation spread from Germany to France.

1. The catalyst of the French Protestants occurred on August 24, 1572: it became commonly known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

2. This bloody event was the massacre of almost 70,000 Huguenots at the hand of Catherine de’ Medici, the queen of France.


Painting of the massacre- took place four days after the wedding of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France).


3. This was deeper blow to the promise of religious tolerance because the event took place at the wedding of a Catholic and FrenchCalvinist a Protestant.

A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (1852) is a painting by John Everett Millais.

Propaganda print depicting Huguenot aggression against Catholics at sea. Horriblescruautés des Huguenots, 16th century.

ii henry iv
II. Henry IV
  • In 1593 Henry of Navarre became Henry IV

1. He was able to gain acceptance from France by converting from Protestantism to Catholicism

i. “Paris is well worth a Mass”

ii. Even though he was a newly affiliated Catholic, Henry didn’t forget his religious roots.

Portrait of Henry IV as Hercules slaying the Lernaean Hydra. Painted ca. 1600

In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient nameless serpent-like water beast with reptilian traits that possessed many heads.


2. Even though he was a newly affiliated Catholic, Henry didn’t forget his religious roots. Henry issued the Edict of Nantes, which gave French Protestants (Huguenots) limited freedom of worship and the right to hold office in towns where Protestant was the dominant religion

B. The Edict ended religious wars in France, but declared Catholicism the official religion of France.

1. The Edict also required the Huguenots to support the Catholic Church financially.


2. In addition to encouraging religious tolerance, Henry IV also eliminated France’s debt and was able to build a surplus

3. He also drained swamps, built roads and canals and encouraged agriculture


Henry IV’s assassin: François Ravaillac

Henry IV was assassinated in 1640 by a Catholic fanatic

Assassination of Henry IV by Gaspar Bouttats

iii louis xiii and richelieu
III. Louis XIII and Richelieu
  • In 1624, Louis XIII appointed CardinalRichelieu as his chief minister and most trusted adviser
    • Richelieu sought to destroy the power of the Huguenots and nobles, two groups that did not bow to royal authority
    • Despite Louis and Richelieu’s dream of a Catholic France, during the Thirty Years War, Richelieu entered France on the Protestant side, the creation of his Reason of the State, which meant putting social/political/religious issues aside for the betterment of the state (country).

B. Louis and Richelieu died within the same year, leaving Louis XIV, Louis XIII’s son, the heir to France’s crown

1. Many consider Louis XIV history’s best example of an absolute monarch

2. His famous quote, “L’etat, c’estmoi.” meaning “I am the state.”

3. Referred to as the “Sun King”

iv versailles
IV. Versailles
  • Louis demanded to be in charge of all:
    • Military
    • Political
    • Economic Affairs
  • Louis deprived the nobility of influence
    • Built palace outside Paris at Versailles; demanded noble visit regularly
    • Nobles gained prestige being servants at Versailles court

i. Developed new habits of dressing, dining, gambling

ii. Grew poorer

iii. Louis XIV’s style, ceremony emphasized political importance.

v towards the end of louis xiv s life
V. Towards the End of Louis XIV’s Life
  • 1685, Louis revoked Edict of Nantes, outlawed Protestantism in France
    • Over 200,000 Huguenots fled- prosperous merchants, artisans which meant the loss of their skillsand wealth helped cause financial crisis
    • This was similar to Spain’s expulsion of the Jews and the Muslims

B. The Battle of Rockroyestablished France as the possessor of the most powerful army in Europe

1. The most costly war, War of Spanish Succession, started when the King of Spain died without an heir

2. 1701, England, Netherlands, Holy Roman Empire went to war against France, to prevent the combining forces of France and Spain


C. 1713, after many defeats, Louis accepted the Treaty of Utrecht which said Louis’s grandson got Spanish throne anyway.

1. Also said France and Spain could never to be ruled by same monarch

2. War benefited England at expense of France, Spain.