Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560

Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560


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Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560

The Conspiracy of Amboise (March 1560) was an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Guise brothers, the dominant figures in France during the short reign of the young Francis II.

On 10 July 1559 Henry II died of wounds he suffered during a tournament on 30 June, and was succeeded by his young son Francis II. Power was almost immediately seized by the Guise brothers, François, duke of Guise and Charles, cardinal of Lorraine. The princes of the blood and other senior aristocrats were pushed out of any positions of authority. The Guises continued Henry's persecution of the Huguenots, and opposition to their rule began to grow.

The movement was led by Godfrey de Barry, Seigneur de la Renaudie (in Périgord). His brother-in-law had been executed by the Guises in the previous year, and de Barry was a refuge in Switzerland. A meeting of the plotters was held at Nantes starting on 1 February 1560, under the cover of the Parlement of Brittany. The plotters decided to raise a force of 500 gentlemen, who on 10 March would capture Francis II and his court while they were somewhere on the Loire, probably at Blois. The Guise brothers would be deposed and Francis released from their evil influence.

News of the plot soon reached the Guises, initially from sources in Germany, Spain and Italy, but eventually also from Des Avenelles, Renaudie's landlord in Paris. When the news reached the court it sped up a move from Blois to the castle of Amboise, which was fortified against any possible attack. Louis of Bourbon, prince of Condé, who was suspected of being involved in the plot, and who may have been approached by the plotters, was at court at the time, and was given command of one of the castle's gates, while all the time being watched for any sign of disloyalty.

The plot caused a great deal of panic at the court in mid-March. The conspirators had reached with six leagues of Amboise by the second, but then delayed the execution of their plan for two weeks. During this period the Royal authorities began to make arrests, and on a number of occasions small bands of the plotters were discovered and defeated. Renaudie himself was killed in a skirmish on 19 March. The Guises also made a token gesture of tolerance, issuing a 'decree of forgiveness' forgiving past heresy. They also used the crisis to increase their power - François was appointed the King's lieutenant-general, with absolute powers, especially to deal punishment to the plotters.

In the aftermath of the failed plot the government executed a large number of suspects, perhaps as many as 1,200. The Prince of Condé, who arrived at court during the crisis, was suspected of involvement. He was summoned to face the king and requested a hearing before the Royal Council. At this council he offered to prove his innocence in single combat, and at this point the Duke of Guise offered to act as his second. This was only a temporary reprieve - later in the year Condé and his brother Antoine, king of Navarre, were summoned to court, and on 31 October Condé was arrested.

A trial was held in November and he was condemned to death as a traitor and heretic. Condé was to be beheaded at the start of the upcoming States General, but he was saved by the sudden death of Francis II on 5 December 1560. Francis was succeeded by his young brother Charles IX, the Guises fell from power and Condé was released. The new regime, led by Catherine de Medici, attempted to find some common ground between the Catholics and Huguenots. When this effort failed the Edict of Saint-Germain or of January 1562 was issued. This gave the Huguenots the right to worship outside towns and on noble estates. The edict was greeted with great hostility by many Catholics, and within a few months of its being issued the First War of Religion had begun.


Amboise

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Amboise, town, Indre-et-Loire département, Centre-Val-de-Loire région, central France, on both banks of the Loire River, east of Tours. It is the site of a late Gothic château (with Renaissance additions), one of a great company of castles in the rich, rolling Loire country.

The town was first mentioned in 504 as Ambatia, when on the isle of Saint-Jean (now Île d’Or), Clovis, king of the Franks, met Alaric II, king of the Visigoths, to make a short-lived pact. In the 11th century Fulk III Nerra, count of Anjou, took the town from the count of Blois and built a high, square stone keep, from which the present château emerged. Thrusting up from a rock above the river, the château has a three-story facade flanked by two enormous squat towers. It was a favourite residence of French monarchs from the mid-15th century to the 17th century. Charles VIII, who was born and died there, brought artists from Italy to embellish the château.

Huguenot efforts to remove Francis II from the influence of the house of Guise were exposed in 1560 as the Conspiracy of Amboise, and subsequently Protestant corpses hung from the balcony of the king’s house, a Gothic portion of the château. Nevertheless, the Édict d’Amboise (1563) granted freedom of worship to Protestant nobility and gentry. From the time of Henry IV, the château was often used as a prison, and Abdelkader, the Algerian national leader, was confined there (1848–52). In 1872, after private owners had razed portions of the château, the National Assembly voted its return to the Orléans family.

In the town itself the 16th-century town hall is a museum. The Porte de l’Horloge is a 15th-century gateway with a carillon. To the southeast is Le Clos-Lucé, formerly the castle of Cloux, where Leonardo da Vinci died it is now a museum. Immediately south is the seven-tiered Pagoda of Chanteloup, a piece of 18th-century chinoiserie. The local economy is diversified. Industrial development has extended there from Paris and includes the manufacture of precision instruments, pharmaceuticals, and vehicle components. Amboise is also the centre of the local winemaking industry and is an important tourist destination. Pop. (1999) 11,457 (2014 est.) 13,371.


The Amboise Conspiracy

Biking from Montlouis-sur-Loire to Amboise, 12 km

At the end of last week’s article we enjoyed a winetasting with M. and Mme. Blot at the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Husseau, on the east side of Montlouis-sur-Loire. Leaving the domaine, we head east along the Loire à Vélo to Amboise, where we visit the great royal chateau. To see our route from Montlouis to Amboise in Google Maps, click here. Next week we walk up the rue Victor Hugo in Amboise to Clos-Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life.

Our route to Amboise is not along the Loire River, but up on the plateau, where we share the quiet roads with an occasional car. After a few kilometers we pass by the Aquarium du Val de Loire, which offers a convenient rest stop (02 47 23 44 44) for those who did not stop at the Taille aux Loups. I was biking this route in the summer of 2008, planning our Western student bike trip for 2009, and looking for a rest stop on a rural plateau with no cafes.

I came around a corner and there was the Aquarium, to which we had taken our young children during summer vacations in Touraine two decades earlier. I had always come to it from the opposite direction by car, and indeed I had forgotten its existence. What a surprise to find it there on my proposed bike route. The perfect rest stop: if you don’t want to visit the aquarium, buy a snack at the counter, to thank them for the use of the washrooms.

This is one of the largest fresh water aquariums in Europe, with some 10,000 fish in 4 million litres of water. The emphasis is on fresh water European fish, but there are also various exhibits involving sea water, including tropical fish, a coral reef, and sharks. My favorite fish is the silure, which looks like an enormous catfish out of a horror movie. They hang out on river bottoms and seem too fat too float or swim. They can be up to 2.5 m long and weigh up to 250 kg, making them the largest fresh water fish in Europe. They do well in the lower reaches (below 400 m altitude) of the significant rivers of France, including the Loire, where a reduction in oxygen (through pollution) can make life difficult for other sorts of fish.

Leaving the Aquarium, our route continues east, and then turns south, down the hill past the impressive St. Denis Church to the Loire and Amboise. From the bridge over the Loire we have a fine view of the Chateau Royal d’Amboise.

In the late 15th century the chateau was substantially expanded and renovated by Kings Louis X1 (who reigned 1461-1483) and Charles VIII (1483-1498). The work occurred just before the adoption by French monarchs of the new Italian Renaissance styles in architecture, and Amboise maintained the look of a fortified castle. Later renovations by Francois I (1515-1547) and Henri II (1547-1559) introduced the new Italian styles to the chateau. Our visit inside the chateau takes us to the Royal Apartments, which include a magnificent Council Room, with a double vaulted stone ceiling and beautiful fireplaces at either end.

3. Students from the Western 2010 bike trip gather in front of a roaring fire in the Council Room on a very cold spring day.

The large round tower on the left of the main building in photo 2 is the Minimes Tower, housing a large spiral ramp which was used to bring horses with carts up to the terrace to provision the chateau. The views from the tower are spectacular. Looking west we can see the Boys’ Tower at the western edge of the Chateau terrace, the roofs of Amboise, and the massive St-Denis Church in the background.

4. Looking west from the Minimes Tower at the Chateau d'Amboise

Looking east, we can the Loire winding down to Amboise.

5. Students on the Western 2010 bike trip on the Minimes Tower.

The beauty and peace of the chateau and the surrounding town may make it hard to imagine that they were the site of cruel, bloody events that took place here in March, 1560. Those events have left their mark on French history.

Religion and politics should not be mixed. When they are, the result is often disorder and bloodshed, as France experienced in the seven decades after 1560. Among the best known events of the Religious Wars in France are the Saint-Barthélemy Massacre in 1572, and the assassinations of two kings, Henry III in 1589, and his son Henry IV in 1610. A portent of all this bloodshed were some brutal killings in Amboise in March, 1560, which had both religious and political dimensions.

On the religious side, it all began with a German priest, Martin Luther, who in 1517 wrote his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (also known as the Ninety-Five Theses) he may have affixed them to the door of the church in Wittenberg, although many modern historians believe he simply sent them to his bishop. Luther argued that salvation could not be bought, but only achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote that our knowledge of God comes from the Bible, thereby disputing the authority of the Pope and his hierarchy. These views were offensive to the established Church, and in 1521 Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Today in Germany there are roughly equal numbers of Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Luther’s ideas travelled quickly through Germany in a 16th century version of social networking involving pamphlets and ballads.[1] His doctrines also spread to other countries in Europe. In France, the Reform movement was led by John Calvin, born in 1509 in Picardy. In university, Calvin was attracted to humanism, and then to religious Reform. His views forced him to flee to Switzerland in 1535.

The following year he published his Institutes of the Christian Religion, setting out his Reform doctrines. Despite intermittent persecution, the number of Reformers or Protestants in France (or Huguenots, as their enemies called them) grew rapidly after 1850, especially among the nobility. The criticism of each other’s church by Reformers and Roman Catholics was often bitter and extreme each sought control of the French state as a means to control the rival church.

These tensions came to a head with the sudden death of Henry II, after a jousting accident in June, 1559. His son became king at just 15 years of age, as François II. Through an arrangment concluded when he was four, François was married at age 14 to Marie Stuart, Queen of Scots (later imprisoned and put to death by Elizabeth I of England). When he became King, two of his wife’s uncles, the duc de Guise and his younger brother, the cardinal de Lorraine, became his chief advisors. They quickly took control of the government. The painting below of the duc de Guise is by François Clouet, the official painter of King François I.

The Guises became known for their violent suppression of Protestantism. The House of Guise was found by Claude de Lorraine (1495-1550), a valiant military commander under François I, who in appreciation gave him the title of 1st duc de Guise. In 1525 the duc de Guise suppressed a revolt of Anabaptists, a Protestant sect, in a massacre in Saverne, Alsace, which earned him the title of “the Great Butcher.” His son François, the 2nd duc de Guise, organized the massacre at Amboise in 1560. François’ son Henri, the 3rd duc de Guise, played a role in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestants in Paris in 1572, and later founded and led the Catholic League (la Ligue Catholique), devoted to the anti-Protestant cause. He was assassinated at Blois in 1588 on order of King Henry III, a story we will tell when our bike trips arrive in Blois.

In early 1560 members of the Huguenot nobility began plotting to kidnap the King, and return him to power after they had removed the Guises. A meeting of the conspirators was held in Nantes on Feb. 1, 1560. The plot was discovered and the King was moved from Blois to Amboise, where the Chateau was more defensible. The conspirators were poorly organized, and an attack on March 17, at the gate of the Bons-hommes under the Heurtault Tower on the north side of the Chateau, was quickly repulsed by the troops of les Guises.

7. The Heurtault Tower, with the gate of the Bons-homme. In the distance, at the top of the wall, is the St-Hubert Chapel.

There followed a bloody massacre of all the conspirators and their troops. The town quickly ran out of gallows and began hanging Huguenots from the balconies of the chateau. Others were decapitated. “The cobblestones of the interior courtyards were red and sticky from the blood of decapitated nobles.” [2] An engraving by Jacques Tortorel and Jean Perrisin from 1570 shows the horror of the scene enacted in Amboise over several days. Tortorel and Perrisin were Protestant artists in Lyon. In 1570 they published in Geneva a collection of engravings on the religious conflicts in France between 1559 and 1570. [3]

8. Jacques Tortorel and Jean Perrisin, "The Execution of the Conspirators of Amboise" (1570).

The engraving shows the north wall of the chateau, as seen from the direction of Photo 2. In addition to the troops present, there are a good many spectators, including, near the lower right corner, a woman with a young boy. The Huguenots are to be taught a lesson.

Two men are being thrown from the chateau balcony with ropes around their necks. Five more are already hanging, along with a sixth on a gallows in the center of the engraving. The latter is the leader of the conspiracy, Jean de Barry, lord of la Renaudie manor in Périgord. La Renaudie was killed in a skirmish on March 19 in the Forest of Chateau-Renault as he headed toward Amboise with a small troop. His body was displayed as the engraving shows, and then chopped into five pieces, each hung at a gate to the chateau.

In the left foreground, a gallows carries three heads headless bodies lie nearby. A Huguenot Captain, M. de Villemongis, about to be decapitated with a sword, seems ready for his fate, as he washes his hands in the blood of those who have gone before him. [4]

This last figure reappears a century later, as the great French historian Jules Michelet describes how those who had fought with the Huguenot forces faced death that day in Amboise:

“Dying, they raised their loyal hands to God. One of them, M. de Villemongis, dipped his in the blood of his comrades already executed, and raising his red hands, cried in a strong voice, ‘This is the blood of your children, Lord! You will avenge it!'”[5]


WARS OF RELIGION

1559. Treaty of Cateau Cambresis between France and Spain (April).

Death of Henry II at a Tournament.

Supremacy of the Guises, uncles of the Queen.

1560. La Renaudie’s Conspiracy, the Tumult of Amboise (March).

Edict of Romorantin against the Huguenots.

Arrest and sentence of Condé.

Accession of Charles IX under guardianship of Catherine di Medici and Anthony of Navarre.

1561. Estates General of Orleans (Jan.).

The Catholic triumvirate—Guise, Montmorenci , S. André—Estates of Pontoise (Aug.).

Colloquy of Poissi between Catholic and Calvinist divines (Sept.).

1562. The tolerant Edict of January. Navarre joins the Catholics.

Massacre of the Congregation of Vassi by Guise’s followers (March).

Condé and Coligni seize Orleans (April).

English at Havre. Capture of Rouen by Catholics (Oct.), and death of Navarre.

Defeat of Huguenots at Dreux .

Capture of Condé and Montmorenci . Death of S. André

1563. Murder of Guise before Orleans by Poltrot (Feb.).

Capture of Havre from English (July).

1564. Peace of Troyes with English. Tour of Catherine and Charles.

1565. Their interview with Elizabeth of Spain and Alva at Bayonne (June).

1566. Troubles in the Netherlands.

1567. Second War. Attempt of Condé to seize the Court at Meaux (Sept.).

Condé attacks Paris. Battle of S. Denis. Death of Montmorenci (Nov.).

1568. John Casimir’s Germans join Condé.

Peace of Longjumeau or Chartres (March).

Flight of Condé and Coligni (Aug.).

1569. Defeat of Huguenots at Jarnac (March).

Death of Condé. Invasion of Deux Fonts.

Defeat of Coligni at Moncontour (Oct.).

Defence of S. Jean d’Angely .

Louis of Nassau at Rochelle.

1570. Peace of S. Germain (Aug.).

1571-2. French schemes on Netherlands.

Louis of Nassau with French aid seizes Valenciennes and Mons.

Marriage of Navarre and Margaret.

Massacre of S. Bartholo­mew (Aug.).

1572. Navarre and Condé abjure Reform.

Local resistance of Huguenot towns.

1573. Sieges of Rochelle and Sancerre.

Negotiations of the Crown with Orange.

Election of Anjou to throne of Poland (May).

1574. Fifth War. Conspiracy of Navarre and Alençon—its discovery.

Execution of La Mole and Coconas .

Arrest of Marshals Montmorenci and Cosse .

Negotiations for marriage of Alençon with Elizabeth (1573-4)

Confederation of Huguenots and Politiques under Damville in Languedoc.

Return of Henry III from Poland (Sept.).

Death of Cardinal of Lorraine (Dec.).

1575. Escape and revolt of Alençon. Invasion of John Casimir (Sept.).

1576. Escape of Navarre (Feb.).

Alençon, John Casimir , and Condé march on Paris.

Peace of Monsieur (April). Its favorable terms for the Huguenots.

Catholic League of Picardy (June).

Estates General of Blois and Catholic revival.

1578. Alençon in the Netherlands. Growing antagonism to the Crown.

1579. Alençon in England. French occupation of Cambrai and La Fere .

1580. Seventh or Lovers’ War (Feb.).

Treaty of Plessis between Alen9on and United Provinces.

Henry recognizes Alençon’s expedition to Netherlands.

1581. Alençon lord of the Netherlands his visit to England and betrothal to Elizabeth.

1582. Alençon in the Netherlands.

Catherine interferes for independence of Portugal.

Defeat of French fleet off Azores.

1583. Alençon’s treacherous attempt on Antwerp (Jan.).

Assassination of Orange (July).

1584. The League of Paris (Dec.).

1585. The Pact of Joinville between Guises, Cardinal Bourbon, and Spanish agents (Jan.).

Henry III refuses the sovereignty of the Netherlands (Feb.).

1587. War of the Three Henries .

Navarre defeats Joyeuse at Coutras (Oct.).

The King makes terms with the German auxiliaries who are cut to pieces by Guise (Nov.).

Remarkable retreat of the Huguenot horse.

1588. The day of the Barricades (May).

The King forced to fly from Paris.

The Estates General of Blois.

Murder of Henry of Guise and the Cardinal of Guise by the King (Dec.).

1589. Death of Catherine di Medici (Jan.).

League of the King and Navarre.

Their march on Paris. Murder of Henry III (Aug.).

1589. Two Bourbon Kings, Henry IV and Charles X.

Henry’s retreat from Paris to Normandy.

Differences between Mayenne and the Sixteen at Paris.

Spanish influence in Paris.

1590. Henry’s victory at Ivry (March).

Siege and starvation of Paris.

The Duke of Parma relieves the town (Sept.).

1591. The Royalists capture S. Denis, blockade Paris, and take Chartres.

Terrorism of the Sixteen and their suppression by Mayenne.

1592. Siege of Rouen and its relief by Parma. His retreat to the Netherlands and death (Dec.).


Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560 - History

The work I would like to present is research in progress regarding the circumstances of France’s entry in the Wars of Religion, in which Catholics and Protestants opposed each other during almost forty years. Besides factual considerations, based on both local sources and archives conserved abroad (Spain, Italy, Monaco, Russia), this work also constitutes a methodological reflexion on the status of such an event, considered here a “founding” event. Traditional historiography considers that the Wars of Religion started with the “massacre of Wassy”, on March 1 st 1562. On that day, some Calvinists who had not respected the Edict of January in celebrating the cult in the Wassy neighbourhood had been exterminated by the Duc de Guise and his troops. Why has this carnage been considered a founding incident, while several others – even bloodier – had predated it? Has the selection of Wassy been determined by the consequences of this event, or by the will to establish responsibility for it?

In these confrontations, the South of France shows precocity. It is in this same South of France that Calvinist communities took root with the strongest force, giving their cult an eminently municipal and civic character. The religious conflict then got closer to the cities of Flanders, Germany and Switzerland, and the movement went beyond the urban space and extended to burgs and villages.

Here we distinguish ourselves from an approach based on the relatively plurivocal paradigm of “confessionalization” ( Konfessionalisierung ) ( Reinhard, 1977 Schilling, 1981 ). Recently, the micro-historical approach has made it possible to analyze more finely the change, which did not systematically proceed from the superior authority of the prince. The study of the transition to Calvinism in the city of Emden, in the Netherlands, thus demonstrated the decisive role of the urban community through its “civic” consistory ( Schilling, 1989 ). This should not lead us to think, however, that “Emden is everywhere”? ( Schmidt, 1999 ). Still within the framework of an urbanized society, Judith Pollmann highlighted the relative passivity of Catholics in the Netherlands when municipal politicians imposed Calvinism by organizing consistories as an instrument of social discipline as well as political and military control ( Pollmann, 2011 ). These latter studies should be compared to the case of Languedoc. We will focus here on the initial period of the takeover of municipalities, demonstrating that, far from seeking coexistence, the nascent Calvinist communities of the French South knew how to use local institutions in an attempt to impose an undivided faith.

Thus, we have to question the organization specific to southerner municipalities and the nature of “ consulats ” (municipalities), which lends itself to infiltration by dawning Calvinist consistories.

This is the well-known word used to characterize the way Protestants acted. In the South of France, voices rose to alert the French court about secret dealings against royal edicts. Blaise de Monluc in Gascogne, Guillaume de Joyeuse in Languedoc and Antoine de Noailles in Bordeaux warned against cabals aiming at establishing a Protestant cult by taking over churches. They were immediately labelled with the name “Cassandra”, as the ancient Greek unbelieved prophets of doom.

The conspiracy of Amboise (March 16 th 1560) 1

The aborted conspiracy of Amboise, led by an obscure noble from Perigord called La Renaudie, allows us to unveil the outlines of a large plot, already militarily supported by Protestant communities. Those who participated planned on finding the King, François II, so as to free him from the influence of the Guises, who were supporting a methodical repression of Protestants.

Philip Benedict redrew the raising of troops by reformed churches in the end of 1561, which announced their mobilisation by the prince of Condé the day after the massacre of Wassy ( Benedict and Fornerod, 2009 , 2012 Daussy, 2014 ). He considers them consecutive to the request that has been made by Théodore de Bèze and reformed deputies, a few months earlier, to solicit places of worship. But this chronology cannot be applied to the South of France where, the year before, Protestants took over churches and organized a first coordinated hire of soldiers. It was as early as March 1 st 1560, during the conspiracy of Amboise, instead of on March 16, 1562, which the massacre of Wassy, that religious confrontations started in the South.

The context of this uprising was first the anxiety that increased among Protestants due to the resumption of a repressive policy against them, that Henri II initiated after the Italian wars and that had been interrupted by his death. Another aspect of this environment, unfairly neglected, was external to France. It entailed the failure of Jean Calvin in his project of extending the reform to the whole Helvetic confederation from 1530 through 1549. This disillusion led him to go back to his homeland: France. Religious refugees of Lausanne and Vaud massively turned to multiply churches, while the end of the Italian wars concentrated all attentions ( Bruening, 2011 ).

Even if Calvin and Théodore de Bèze avoided openly supporting it, the conspiracy of Amboise remained an aborted attempt of uprising by Calvinist churches reinforced by hired troops. Studies of the utilisation of troops during war times, based on bookkeeping, fail to identify the modalities of the raising of armed men at the beginning of wars ( Souriac, 2008 Brunet, 2015a ). The reformed militias and those of the first Catholic leagues were assembled (the latest in a fraternal context) without relying on specific financing, therefore escaping the sagacity of historians. To add to the smokescreen, the actions of these boorish of “communes”, are not considered “worthy of history” (Agrippa d’Aubigné) and were consequently often ignored by annalists. They however remained essential. The communes and those who previously completed the raising of troops of “Free archers” ( francs archers ) and then of “legionaries” ( légionnaires ) for the king. Led by a few reformists and galvanised by the preaching of Protestant ministers, they participated –rather heavy-handedly at first– in the composition of a military force, intended to protect them, but also meant to aggregate. The investigations completed on this “Tumult of Amboise”, which was decided on February 1 st in Nantes, illustrates the vast ramifications of the plot: Lyonnais, Dauphiné, Bretagne, Anjou, Touraine, Poitou, Normandie, Picardie, Île-de-France, Brie, Bourgogne, Champagne and, south of the kingdom: Périgord, Limousin, Saintonge, Gascogne, Béarn, Provence et Languedoc.

After the failure of the operations of Amboise and Provence, in August and September 1560, Montbrun and Paul de Mauvans tried again to seize Lyon. Benefiting notably from a financing from Nîmes, weapons were acquired and stocked in May and June and, at the very beginning of the following September, more than a thousand soldiers raised and armed by the churches of Bas-Languedoc moved from Montpellier and Nîmes to Lyon ( De Barthélemy, 1876: 37-39 ). 2

The spring and autumn 1561: raising of troops and iconoclasm

The iconoclast flow, described by Denis Crouzet, had been initiated and organized in southern France ( Crouzet, 1990 ). During the spring 1561, Theodore de Bèze was in Nerac and, during the following autumn, Pierre Viret was in Nîmes. Calvin sent them on a “diplomatic mission”, in a concerted manner Viret also exercised a mandate of visitor of churches and took part into a sharp debate regarding what consistories should be ( Roussel, 1998 ). Both of them contributed to the churches’ religious and military organization.

The preparation of the synod of Sainte-Foy, in November 1561, notably followed those of Clairac (November 1560). According to the Church History , the synod of Languedoc in February 1562 assembled, seventy ministers, which represented seven times more than the estimate given by Guillaume Mauguet a year earlier. 4 Regardless of the accuracy of these figures, the difference is significant. A similar impression is given by the analysis of three lists, established by Nicolas Colladon, secretary of the Company of Pastors of Geneva, between the summer of 1561 and the beginning of 1562, which allows us to identify the pastors sent to France following the requests made by churches from May and June 1561 ( Wilcox, 1993 Reid 2007 ). 3 Two thirds of the enquiring localities were located in southern France. The current Gard, Hérault, Ardèche and Drôme departments represented 22.5% of localities, while Lot-et-Garonne and Gironde total 18%. Bèze and Viret were present in these two regions, which constitute more than 40% of the localities that were contacting Geneva to obtain a pastor and build a church. Thus, when the war broke out, four large synodic provinces were already subdivided in 23 symposiums or classes: Guyenne, Haut-Languedoc-Quercy-Rouergue-Pays de Foix, Bas-Languedoc and Dauphiné-Lyonnais, confirming the meridional precocity and preponderance.

In this tense atmosphere, it seemed obvious that Théodore de Bèze, the ministers and Protestant deputies mandated by provincial synods, which were then at the French court, took the initiative of taking a census of churches and evaluating their military potential. This initiative followed the resolution adopted in March 1561 by the second national synod of Poitiers. At the general state of Pontoise (August 1 st to 27 th ), churches obtained to record in the lists of grievances the demand to be authorised to freely gather in their places of worship, however Bèze and the six church deputies chose to exercise an even stronger pressure. For this reason, the admiral of Coligny intentionally increased the number of churches presented to Catherine de Medicis, which then reached 2150 ( Benedict and Fornerod, 2009 ). 5 Form October onwards, the creation of military units by churches, notably the consistory of Nîmes, acquired a completely different scope. 6 The following November, the provincial synod of Guyenne, orders the churches of the province to organize themselves as an army, following a clear military hierarchy. Each church had to have a company led by a captain at the symposium level and depending on the parliament, colonels and generals lead the contingents ( De Bèze, 1882, I: 888 ). So where did the churches find the funding required to raise and arm these troops?

Besides the financing brought by the reformist bourgeois, notably from Nîmes, iconoclasm contributed to an increase in the resources of communities controlled by consistories. Noailles realized with surprise that, in Guyenne, iconoclasts burn ornamentations and decorations of churches so as to extract precious metals “to use them for the support [of] poors and other uses”, those other uses implying the arming and defence of Protestant churches. 7

During the summer 1561 and until the Edict of January 1562, this “ abatis d’images ” (destruction of pictures and statues) reaches the whole Languedoc region. Théodore de Bèze, seeing the movement as that of a population following God –vox populi, vox Dei– only disapproves its excesses. 8 Regarding Béarn, he advises Jeanne d’Albret “that nothing strikes that is not by good order and justice authority”. It was the same in Foix. Catholics, generally surprised by the dimension of those concerted actions led by churches, rarely reacted. With order, the resources of churches are taken and guarded attentively by municipalities passed under the control of consistories.

CONSISTORIES AND CONSULATES

In the South of France, the diffusion of Roman law and notary positions had led to the multiplication of consulates between the XI th and XIV th centuries. Even if their distribution was not even –as evidenced by Cévennes and Gévaudan– they were developed in burgs and villages, as opposed to northern France where the communal movement remained urban. This institution played a major role in the installation of the Protestant reform.

The force of political councils and the accession of jurists to the consulate

Generally speaking, the end of the Middle Ages had seen the assemblies of inhabitants of burgs and villages of the South of France to disappear in front of councils, with consuls that are real organs of decisions. This change came along with an increased concentration of the power of representation between the hands of a few lineages. In the meantime, these consulates confirmed their military and fiscal capacity, servicing monarchy (Garnier, 2006: 180-227 Cayla, 1938: 25-41 ). 9 They were organized following professional and territorial criteria.

The prosopography of municipal aedile highlights a cursus bonorum that involved charges in the making of churches and religious friaries eminently “civic”. Their prerogatives were not only administrative and judicial but also extended to the civic dimension of religion, notably in the choice of the preacher of Advent and Lent. To such a point that interrogations surrounded the potential link between the general movement of exclusion of lay persons from the management of the sacred at the end of the Middle Ages and the extension of the Reformation ( Lemaitre, 1991 ).

It is necessary to highlight, between a general assembly of inhabitants decreasingly used and efficient, and an oligarchic consulate, the major role taken by the intermediary political council. Composed by former consuls and the extension of consular brotherhoods, it supported the consulate through various methods and, in certain cases, could oppose it ( Mouysset, 2000: 126-136 Cabayé, 2008: 47-48 Saverne, 1914: 140-142 ). 10 Hard to define because it was fluctuating, this entity has not been studied sufficiently. However, it validated the main decisions of the local councils and, when a new influential structure appeared, the protestant consistory, two legitimacies opposed each other within local communities ( Hauser, 1909: 199-202 Garrisson, 1980: 31-33 Ricalens, 1999: 23-26 ). 11

In Montpellier, for example, since the middle of the 15 th century, notaries, lawyers and other notable from Montpellier had requested access to the consulate. The later, which appeared since 1141, was maintaining the usage to recruit the first four consuls among moneychangers, bourgeois and merchants and the remaining two among the “mechanical arts” and ploughmen. In 1483, the “Council of the Twenty-Four” was created. Substituting itself, de facto, to the old general citizen assembly, it was designated by the outgoing consuls and deliberated with the consuls on important affairs. It included three outgoing consuls, two nobles, two canons, six officers of the king at the Cour des Aides 12 (set in Montpellier in 1467), at the seneschal and at the Bureau of French treasurers ( Trésoriers de France 13 ), two lawyers, two notaries and two prosecutors. Nobles of the Robe then had the majority in this municipal council, at times when the merchant city was disappearing behind the administrative capital. In 1529, a notary became third consul and presidents or advisers to the Cour des Aides were appointed to the consulate, and refuse at first. In 1545, Francis I ordered them, as well as all his officers of the court, to accept joining the consulate if they were elected.

Following various modalities, a takeover of consulates by the consistories of Montpellier, Toulouse, Poitiers, Nîmes or Saint-Flour took place. In these places religious people took control over roughly between a quarter to half of position of consul and magistrates, while in Lyon they already controlled the quasi totality of the consulate after 1450. The relative importance of magistrates in secondary cities and simple burgs was a phenomenon specific to the South of France. This “capillary diffusion” of law graduates allowed the region to benefit from the renewal of elites after the great depression, at the expense of the declining aristocracy ( Verger, 1987 Coulet, 1991 Courcier, 2015 ). These graduates and humanists were be more receptive to innovative ideas.

The infiltration of consulates by Calvinist consistories

With the extension of the Reform, there emerged a struggle to control consulates through the intermediary political councils. In Nîmes, Guillaume de Joyeuse witnessed that, during the conspiracy of Amboise, “ le grand nombre de cette religion [ réformée, s ‘ ] étant déja saisis de la ville ” (the large number of this religion [reformed] had already taken the city), the consulate as the presidial were under the control of Protestants. “Citizen of Nîmes then take arms and revolt” and the few magistrates who were opposing the control of the city by the consistory were forced to leave the city. They “had no other expedient than to leave the city and being outside could not find other safety in the Languedoc region than in my house [the castle of Joyeuse, in Vivarais] as they are threatened of death by these scoundrels” ( De Barthélemy, 1876: 29-33 ). 14 From this time onwards, ministers coming from Geneva converged in Lower Languedoc ( De Barthélemy, 1876: 35-36 ). 15

The situation was similar in the diocese of Pamiers (county of Foix), according to a chronology as precocious ( Vidal, 1931: 150 ). During the consular elections of Easter 1561, the huguenots from Pamiers took possession of the six municipal mandates and immediately called ministers and deacons ( Baby, 1981: 219-221 ). 16 The processus was identical in Foix during the following months and churches were gradually erected in the Lèze Valley as consulates adopted the Reform ( Pebay-Clottes, 1988 ). 17

In Montauban, the assemblies were multiplying and reformists took control of Saint-Louis church in January 1561. The parliament of Toulouse attempted, without success, to block their conquest of the consulate by sending the seneschal, in May ( Guiraud, 1918d Benoît, 1910 ). On the following 15 August, the reformists entered “in fact in the principal church of Saint-Jacques and burn images, break altars, steal furniture and beat a consul and a priest who were praying there”. 18 The reformists from Montauban now controlled the consulate.

The evolution was even clearer in Dauphiné, in Nîmes and in its appendices in the Vivarais and Velay, where the influence of Geneva was precocious and strong ( Mours, 2001: 21-42 Tulchin, 2010 , who continues the work of Guggenheim, 1968 ). As in Gascogne, the reformists took control of the churches of Cordeliers to preach, in Valence, as early as 31 March, then in Montélimar and in Romans the following month. On 20 June 1560, the destruction of the calvary of Gap marked the beginning of the Calvinist assault. The return of Guillaume Farel, the following year, invigorated the communities. He visited the consistories of Gap, Die and Grenoble and a synod was held in Die. After heavyhandedly intervening in the consular elections of Valence, from which he wanted to exclude the reformists, the lieutenant general in Dauphiné for Guise, La Mothe-Gondrin, was murdered (27 April 1562). A political assembly of noble reformists, in Valence, replaced him with the baron of Adrets, follower of the prince of Condé. With the exception of Embrun, all cities of Dauphiné felt under the control of Huguenots, as early as the first days of May 1562.

In 1559, Guillaume Mauguet, minister, settled in Nîmes. During the summer of 1561, Antoine Vivés was sent from Geneva to found the consistory of Béziers. Predecessors and supervisors then provided political advice. In Montpellier, the intrusion of the consistory in the Council of the Twenty-Four was even more evident when the deliberations of the second replaced the first on the same register. Consulates were then controlled by churches. Symposiums and synods contributed to the development of a network of civic consistories. Guillaume Mauget went from Nîmes to build the church of Montpellier on 8 February 1560 and to designate ministers before the arrival of Jean Chassinon, known as La Chasse, from Geneva via Meaux ( De Bèze, 1882, II: 122-123 ). Théodore de Bèze noted how much, this year, as soon as the calvinist Guillaume de Chaume, lord of Poussan, became First consul of Montpellier “the assemblies gathered surely, with a marvellous expansion” ( De Bèze, 1882, II: 182 Guiraud, 1918d see also De Bèze, 1963, III ). However the church had to be straightened up by La Chasse, upon his return from the general synod of Poitiers, on 16 February of the following year ( De Bèze, 1882, II: 477 ). Bèze did not mention the successor of sir of Poussan, the lawyer Jacques David, doctor in law and co-lord of Montferrier, first consul from 25 March 1561 to 24 March 1562. He played, however, a decisive role in the Protestant domination of Montpellier ( De Bèze, 1882, II: 166-170, 185-191 and 221-223 ).

The union of churches in the South of France

Since Geneva, Calvin could not respond to the dimension of the demand for ministers, and a symposium was organized in Montpellier on November 12 th . A Calvinist theocracy, based on the one in force in Geneva, was then established in this city. Above it were ministers, the Consistory, and the political Council of Churches, created on December 20 1561 (Philippi in Guiraud, 1918d, II: 67-69 Guiraud, 1918b, II: 337-342 Guiraud, 1918c, II: 263-264 ). 19 Had the preaching of Pierre Viret throughout Languedoc been as soothing as he pretended? In a missive of unconfirmed authenticity, the minister exhorted Huguenots to follow the edict of January 1562 ( Bruening, 2012: 417-419 De Bèze, 1882, II: 480-481 Roussel, 1998: 803-839 Guiraud, 1918a, II: 227-228 Granval, 2010 ). 20

The multiplication of churches and the control of consulates were coming along with the creation of syndicates which allowed the mobilization of symposiums and provincial synods, following the will to take a census of churches. This habit was usual for local communities that wanted to regroup themselves so as to be represented in front of a jurisdiction or officer to claim their rights ( Cayla, 1964: 660-661 Dognon, 1895 ). On September 21 th , 1561, a new “ émotion et sédition de peuple ” (“commotion and popular riot”) took place in Nîmes, where the consuls protected the culprits. On November 12, the consistory of Nîmes asked local symposiums to organize syndicates and to send the court’s deputies documents highlighting the significant increase of the number of churches 21 . On the same day, it was the symposium of Montpellier that claimed temples and presented the complaints of churches to the States of Languedoc which should be organized in Béziers ( Guiraud, 1918c, II: 262 De Bèze, 1882, II: 477 ). 22 A week later, there were 53 cities and villages of the symposium of Albigeois ( Anonymous, 1861 ). Similar associations were formed in Dauphiné ( Arnaud, 1875, I: 70-72 ). Monluc observed the intensity of the mobilization around Agen when, in January 1562 close to La Plume, he met a former soldier of his “company in Piemont” who, having being named captain of the church of Nérac, obeyed the ministre Boisnormand in fundraising and hiring. “Et quelles diables d’églises sont ceci, qui font les capitaines ?” said Monluc ( Monluc, 1964: 477-478 ).

When the iconoclast wave started, the action taken by churches was coordinated, which made it terribly efficient. Military groups were quickly regrouped, attaining large numbers that could only win against the few guards opposing them. All observers then noted the presence of numerous foreigners in these operations.

It was at a clandestine synod at Aigladines that Sans Tartas, ministre of Sauve, regrouped fifteen pastors who decided the destructions of the spring 1561. The attack of the baron of Fumel’s castle in November also resulted from a coordinated action led by local consistories, taking the form of an expedited justice ( Brunet 2007: 50-53 and 2009 ). It responded to humiliations that the baron had imposed to the reformists of Condat, hitting a deacon in the temple on 21 November. The merchant Balthazar Vaquié united the consistory in his hour and, benefiting from the help of “the people of other nearby churches”, two days later, troops of 1,500 to 2,000 men coming from approximately thirty nearby localities were besieging the castle. On the list of the 223 persons accused, the activities of 45 could be explained. They were artisans, an apothecary, a notary, a prosecutor, a court clerk, a collector, three unfrocked priests and a consul of Fumel. The presence of a judge from Agenais and other men of law among the insurgents contributed a pseudojudicial character to this revolt, which was preceded by attacks against Catholic lords from Agenais-Condomois. As early as June 1560, Monluc was besieged in his castle of Estillac by a troop of 500 to 600 men 23 . Aggressions multiplied from the following summer onwards. “At the hen and chickens, all should be killed so that the race is lost!” is said while the baron of Fumel is massacred and his wife if humiliated.

The churchs’ coordination of troops allowed them to assemble an impressive number of armed men. Two thousand men were mentioned besieging the castle of Frégimont, near Fumel, on 19 August, and the castle of Lestelle near Tournon six days later.

We have access to a few testimonies regarding the content of the predications made by these ministers, all of them marked by an Anabaptist tone. As soon as October 1560, Pierre d’Albret, bishop of Comminges and great uncle of Jeanne, told Phillip II “[qu’]on promet aux gens du peuple que bientôt ils seront délivrés des impôts et des redevances qu’ils paient aux seigneurs / tell the population that they will be soon freed from the taxes they pay to lords” 24 .

Théodore de Bèze himself contributed to such preachings through his Traité de l’autorité du magistrat 25 . He had first suggested that “inferior magistrates” had the right and obligation to resist superior authorities if necessary to protect “the purity of religion” against a leader who fights “the rule of God”. The idea of the resistance of inferior magistrates is also the central idea of Droit des magistrats (1574).

The stigmatization of particular nobles and the call for elective urban magistracies are clear with Bèze, who would also give the power to resist to General Estates. The author of Vindiciae contra Tyrannos (1579), considering the situation of minority of Huguenots, only relied on these urban magistracies. Consulates in the South of France are an ideal environment to implement this program. Even Bèze had recommended passive resistance in Confession de la foy chestienne (written 1558 and published in 1559), circumstances led him to rewrite his articles regarding the right to resist in the Latin edition of 1560, including and extending the magistrate’s obligation to punish heresy. The Catholic cosmographer from Comminges, François de Belieferest, in a polemic text published in 1569, defended the idea that the rebellious Protestants from Toulouse in 1562 acted following the example of Thomas Münzer and German farmers against princes 26 .

We can now give greater credit to the statements of Blaise de Monluc who also listened to the reformist preaching in Nérac.

Ministers publicly preach that, if their follow their religion, they will not owe anything to nobles nor to the king that is not ordered by them. Others preach that kings cannot have any power that does not please the people. Others preach that nobles are nothing more than them and that therefore when their prosecutors will request rent from their tenants, they will respond that they show them in the Bible whether they would pay and that, if their predecessors were stupid, they did not want to be so.

MACH 1562: CONDÉ AND THÉODORE DE BÈZE CALL FOR A MILITARY UPRISING In the South of France: enhancement of the control of consulates through consistories

The Edict of Pacification of January 1562, according to Théodore de Bèze, made that “ceux de la religion [. ] devindrent merveilleusement insolents / men of religion started being wonderfully violent” ( De Bèze, 1882, II: 340 ). 27 Bèze, who said that the massacre of Wassy had been premeditated, was asking the king for justice. This request did not prevent him from writing to churches of Languedoc, probably as early as March 16 th , to ask for help in the form of men and financial resources. He stipulated that the defense of the king, his family and the religion “était prise ce jour par M. le prince de Condé, qui à tel effet avait pris les armes en italiques / is conducted by the prince of Condé, who has armed himself at this effect” ( Guggenheim, 1975 ). 28 On March 20 th , he sent another letter to all the churches of France to ask them to prepare to defend themselves. After Guyenne, Bèze’s letters clearly show the precocity of the military organization of the churches in Languedoc. When Condé attacked Orléans, his justification of armed resistance in support of an imprisoned king’s as well as a response to his own captivity evaporated, appearing simply as a rebel. Cities of the Loire valley, Normandy and Lyon, fell in the hands of Protestants. In the South, it was simply a matter of reinforcing a control already in force but the effort was less effective in Bordeaux, Toulouse or Avignon, where Catholics were resisting.

The case of Montpellier, presented by Jean Philippi, then Calvinist, evidences the complexity of consulates. Facing the threat of war and the militarisation of the citizens of Montpellier, on 30 May 1562, the Court of Aids, first court by order of honours, assembled “all estate of the city”. It advises to “drop weapons”, on both sides, in Montpellier and neighbouring cities.

On 3 May, celebration of the Invention of the Holy Cross, the calvinist insurrection was triggered in Béziers. Iconoclasm spreaded in the city and its surroundings. If the destructive troops leaft Béziers between the end of May and early June 1562, the city remained under the control of Protestants until the intervention of Henri de Montmorency-Damville, the new governor of Languedoc, in November 1563. The mass was removed and supervisors of the consistory, as in Montpellier, forced recalcitrant inhabitants to attend preachings by using the blows of sticks called “dust remover of the consistory” ( Vidal, 1931 ). 29 As in Fumel, the “ basochiens ” or men of justice, appointed a mock jury. “Little king shit” (“ reyot de merde ”) hears Monluc in Gascogne, while in Montpellier a confectioner “says that if he seized the king, [he] would force him make small pastries”, meaning against any Lent.

Catholics caught off-guard

Catholics, who largely remained the majority, despite the assertions of Théodore de Bèze, were surprised and did not react. The leagues of Agen or the “syndicate” of Bordeaux of the autumn 1561 were not sufficient. It will be necessary to wait until March 1563 for defensive Catholic leagues to be formed, as instigated by the cardinals d’Armagnac and Strozzi, Monluc, Terride, Nègrepelisse, Fourquevaux and Joyeuse, and to extend to the whole south of France ( Brunet, 2007: 176-202 and 2015b ). However, the Protestants who created the entities essential to urban power relied on external help. It is Claude de Narbonne, baron of Faugères, who called himself protector of the churches of Lunas, Faugères and probably Bédarieux. But hundreds of soldiers were coming from far away, including Rouergue and Albigeois, with local nobles. On May 30 th , it was Jacques de Crussol, lord of Baudiné, who came with his brother, lord of Acier. In May-June, the Calvinists of Nîmes placed him at the head of Protestants of Languedoc, while his brother, Antoine, was elected protector of Protestants of Languedoc in November. In November 1562, Philibert de Rapin was named governor of Montpellier by Antoine de Crussol. After Castres, Lodève and Béziers, it was Montpellier and all coastal cities which rapidly were taken over, giving the consulate to Catholics ( Serres, 1977: 37 ).

In Toulouse as in Bordeaux, the presence of a parliament defending Catholicism allowed resistance to the authority of the capitoulat and the échevinage (names given to the municipalities of Toulouse and Bordeaux). Thus, on 23 February 1562, the parliament of Toulouse did not hesitate to issue police orders intended to monitor circulation between the city and the outside and forbidding any remarks contrary to the Catholic religion. 30 In April 1562, Hunaud de Lanta, capitoul (town councillor) of Toulouse, is sent to the prince of Condé to propose to surrender the city to him. These transactions were finally known by Monluc, who informed the president of the parliament, Jean de Mansencal, who then stoped the capitouls in force and took over the government. Protestants tried to take over the city by surprise during the night between May 11 th and 12 th , but fail after an intense fight.

If the consulates of Narbonne and Carcassonne succeed in resisting the Calvinist takeover, it was thanks to their particular status as “frontier cities” where no assembly or exercise of the new Religion could establish itself ( De Vic and Vaissète, 1874-1892, XI: 377-378 and XII, col. 599 ). 31 The authority of a governor, the baron of Fourquevaux, allowed these cities to guard their doors and even to keep people suspected of heresy outside of them, using for this purpose a stratagem that Viret bitterly denounces to Calvin (1575: 270-271 See Philippi, 1918: 54 32 .

Each case followed an identical scenario, which we could detail: the takeover of the consulate has prepared the general uprising. Similar attempts to take control of the consulate could be found in Béziers, Ganges, Montagnac, Pézenas, Millau, Marsillargues and apparently in Uzès ( Guy, 1996: 18-19 Rouquette, 1987: 66-68 Daumas, 1984: 28-35 and Bourrilly, 1896 ). 33 The case of Serres, in Villeneuve-de-Berg is significant. Olivier, whose brother Jean, went to study at the Academy of Geneva, was elected deacon. As the consistory did not manage to obtain a minister from Nîmes (where a school of theology was founded in April 1561), in July 1561, Jean sent letters to the consuls of Villeneuve, but also to other reformist cities to enjoin them to organise themselves well and to maintain correspondence among themselves. Churches of the Vivarais then gathered in three symposiums (Annonay, Privas, Aubenas) to create a synodal province. On 4 January 1562, Villeneuve decided to send two messengers to Geneva and Olivier was one of the two elected. Once the war declared, Olivier de Serres was charged to keep at home objects of worship and reliquaries of the Churches of Villeneuve, with the same attention as in Montpellier and in other consulates ( Lequenne, 1970: 73-83 Mours, 2001: 40-41 ). In numerous southern consulates, the war that followed the massacre of Wassy was an opportunity to extend a Calvinist conquest already undertaken.

The religious war had started in the South of France during the conspiracy of Amboise. Churches, which were ready to fight in Provence, Dauphiné, Languedoc and Guyenne, fostering relationships more or less secret among conspirators. After the failure of Amboise, the death of Henri II kept the repression away ( Bourrilly, 1896: 399-400 Brunet, 2015b ). The iconoclast outburst of the summer and autumn of 1561 formed part of a Calvinist operation of taking over municipalities. It was a concerted action, the attentive study of which will highlight the participation and the direct influence of Geneva. If Calvin quickly denied any implication in the conspiracy of Amboise and the following massacres, the role played by Bèze seems obvious. Condé only had to call for the uprising following the slaughter of Wassy, and each consulate could extend its power without sharing and without requiring help from military chiefs. This general uprising, made of multiple individual revolts, whose leaders were later recognized by the prince of Condé, gave at the time the illusion that the action was not concerted. Aware of the weight of consulates, Damville in Languedoc and Henri de Navarre in Guyenne imposed mid-party consulates. Apart from an implicit recognition of municipal power, these measures appear to be another modality of the control of minority Calvinists over the rest of the population ( Brunet, 2007: 579 sq ).


Amboise, conspiracy of

conspiracy of Amboise, 1560, plot of the Huguenots (French Protestants) and the house of Bourbon to usurp the power of the Guise family, which virtually ruled France during the reign of the young Francis II. The plan, presumably worked out by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé, provided for a march on the castle of Amboise, the abduction of King Francis II, and the arrest of François, duc de Guise, and his brother Charles, cardinal of Lorraine. The cardinal was forewarned, and the rebels, beaten before they had united their forces, were ruthlessly massacred. For weeks the bodies of hundreds of conspirators were hanging from the castle and from every tree in the vicinity. The Huguenots were enraged. A brief period of conciliation followed under the chancellorship of Michel de L'Hôpital, appointed by the king's mother, Catherine de' Medici. He temporarily halted Protestant persecution until the outbreak (1562) of the Wars of Religion.

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Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560 - History

On this date in 1560 the second Baron de Castelnau, Jean Boileau, was beheaded as a Huguenot traitor. His was one of the opening casualties of France’s devastating Wars of Religion.

We find Castelnau’s end before war began, when the Huguenot party — although it had been pressed sorely enough for martyr–making in the years of the Reformation — was perhaps not yet quite steeled for the measure of purposeful violence it would require to conquer state power. After the events in this post, the great Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny would remonstrate at a royal Council of Notables protesting the loyalty of the realm’s Protestant subjects. Two years later, he was commanding rebels in the field a decade later, he would be murdered in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

“Rashly designed and feebly executed,”* the plan of these 1560 pre-rebellion Huguenots was to tilt France’s religious policy by muscling out the top Catholic.

If it were possible to imagine such a gambit it was amidst the flux following King Henri II‘s sudden death at the jousts in 1559. his sickly 15-year-old heir Francis was dominated by the staunchly Catholic Duke of Guise policy accordingly trended away from religious accommodation for the Calvinist Huguenot minority.

Considering the new king’s youth and Guise’s prestige, here was the potential to lock in for decades to come a situation intolerable to France’s Protestants. (In actual fact, Francis had not long to live himself and the country soon fell into civil war … but the characters in this post did not have the benefit of hindsight.)

So the muscling-out plan was born: the Amboise conspiracy. Named for the castle where the attempt was unsuccessfully executed, this plot aimed to seize the Duke of Guise by main force and.


Tumult of Amboise conspiracy execution of rebells 1560 France - stock illustration

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Amboise, conspiracy of

1560, plot of the Huguenots (French Protestants) and the house of Bourbon Bourbon
, European royal family, originally of France a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty (see Capetians). One branch of the Bourbons occupies the modern Spanish throne, and other branches ruled the Two Sicilies and Parma.
. Click the link for more information. to usurp the power of the Guise Guise
, influential ducal family of France. The First Duke of Guise

The family was founded as a cadet branch of the ruling house of Lorraine by Claude de Lorraine, 1st duc de Guise, 1496�, who received the French fiefs of his father, René II, duke
. Click the link for more information. family, which virtually ruled France during the reign of the young Francis II Francis II,
1544󈞨, king of France (1559󈞨), son of King Henry II and Catherine de' Medici. He married (1558) Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart), and during his brief reign the government was in the hands of her uncles, François and Charles de Guise.
. Click the link for more information. . The plan, presumably worked out by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé Condé
, family name of a cadet branch of the French royal house of Bourbon. The name was first borne by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé, 1530󈞱, Protestant leader and general.
. Click the link for more information. , provided for a march on the castle of Amboise, the abduction of King Francis II, and the arrest of François, duc de Guise, and his brother Charles, cardinal of Lorraine. The cardinal was forewarned, and the rebels, beaten before they had united their forces, were ruthlessly massacred. For weeks the bodies of hundreds of conspirators were hanging from the castle and from every tree in the vicinity. The Huguenots were enraged. A brief period of conciliation followed under the chancellorship of Michel de L'Hôpital L'Hôpital or L'Hospital, Michel de
, c.1505�, chancellor of France under Catherine de' Medici.
. Click the link for more information. , appointed by the king's mother, Catherine de' Medici Catherine de' Medici
, 1519󈟅, queen of France, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. She was married (1533) to the duc d'Orléans, later King Henry II.
. Click the link for more information. . He temporarily halted Protestant persecution until the outbreak (1562) of the Wars of Religion.


The Amboise Conspiracy

Biking from Montlouis-sur-Loire to Amboise, 12 km

At the end of last week’s article we enjoyed a winetasting with M. and Mme. Blot at the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Husseau, on the east side of Montlouis-sur-Loire. Leaving the domaine, we head east along the Loire à Vélo to Amboise, where we visit the great royal chateau. To see our route from Montlouis to Amboise in Google Maps, click here. Next week we walk up the rue Victor Hugo in Amboise to Clos-Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life.

Our route to Amboise is not along the Loire River, but up on the plateau, where we share the quiet roads with an occasional car. After a few kilometers we pass by the Aquarium du Val de Loire, which offers a convenient rest stop (02 47 23 44 44) for those who did not stop at the Taille aux Loups. I was biking this route in the summer of 2008, planning our Western student bike trip for 2009, and looking for a rest stop on a rural plateau with no cafes.

I came around a corner and there was the Aquarium, to which we had taken our young children during summer vacations in Touraine two decades earlier. I had always come to it from the opposite direction by car, and indeed I had forgotten its existence. What a surprise to find it there on my proposed bike route. The perfect rest stop: if you don’t want to visit the aquarium, buy a snack at the counter, to thank them for the use of the washrooms.

This is one of the largest fresh water aquariums in Europe, with some 10,000 fish in 4 million litres of water. The emphasis is on fresh water European fish, but there are also various exhibits involving sea water, including tropical fish, a coral reef, and sharks. My favorite fish is the silure, which looks like an enormous catfish out of a horror movie. They hang out on river bottoms and seem too fat too float or swim. They can be up to 2.5 m long and weigh up to 250 kg, making them the largest fresh water fish in Europe. They do well in the lower reaches (below 400 m altitude) of the significant rivers of France, including the Loire, where a reduction in oxygen (through pollution) can make life difficult for other sorts of fish.

Leaving the Aquarium, our route continues east, and then turns south, down the hill past the impressive St. Denis Church to the Loire and Amboise. From the bridge over the Loire we have a fine view of the Chateau Royal d’Amboise.

In the late 15th century the chateau was substantially expanded and renovated by Kings Louis X1 (who reigned 1461-1483) and Charles VIII (1483-1498). The work occurred just before the adoption by French monarchs of the new Italian Renaissance styles in architecture, and Amboise maintained the look of a fortified castle. Later renovations by Francois I (1515-1547) and Henri II (1547-1559) introduced the new Italian styles to the chateau. Our visit inside the chateau takes us to the Royal Apartments, which include a magnificent Council Room, with a double vaulted stone ceiling and beautiful fireplaces at either end.

3. Students from the Western 2010 bike trip gather in front of a roaring fire in the Council Room on a very cold spring day.

The large round tower on the left of the main building in photo 2 is the Minimes Tower, housing a large spiral ramp which was used to bring horses with carts up to the terrace to provision the chateau. The views from the tower are spectacular. Looking west we can see the Boys’ Tower at the western edge of the Chateau terrace, the roofs of Amboise, and the massive St-Denis Church in the background.

4. Looking west from the Minimes Tower at the Chateau d'Amboise

Looking east, we can the Loire winding down to Amboise.

5. Students on the Western 2010 bike trip on the Minimes Tower.

The beauty and peace of the chateau and the surrounding town may make it hard to imagine that they were the site of cruel, bloody events that took place here in March, 1560. Those events have left their mark on French history.

Religion and politics should not be mixed. When they are, the result is often disorder and bloodshed, as France experienced in the seven decades after 1560. Among the best known events of the Religious Wars in France are the Saint-Barthélemy Massacre in 1572, and the assassinations of two kings, Henry III in 1589, and his son Henry IV in 1610. A portent of all this bloodshed were some brutal killings in Amboise in March, 1560, which had both religious and political dimensions.

On the religious side, it all began with a German priest, Martin Luther, who in 1517 wrote his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (also known as the Ninety-Five Theses) he may have affixed them to the door of the church in Wittenberg, although many modern historians believe he simply sent them to his bishop. Luther argued that salvation could not be bought, but only achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote that our knowledge of God comes from the Bible, thereby disputing the authority of the Pope and his hierarchy. These views were offensive to the established Church, and in 1521 Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Today in Germany there are roughly equal numbers of Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Luther’s ideas travelled quickly through Germany in a 16th century version of social networking involving pamphlets and ballads.[1] His doctrines also spread to other countries in Europe. In France, the Reform movement was led by John Calvin, born in 1509 in Picardy. In university, Calvin was attracted to humanism, and then to religious Reform. His views forced him to flee to Switzerland in 1535.

The following year he published his Institutes of the Christian Religion, setting out his Reform doctrines. Despite intermittent persecution, the number of Reformers or Protestants in France (or Huguenots, as their enemies called them) grew rapidly after 1850, especially among the nobility. The criticism of each other’s church by Reformers and Roman Catholics was often bitter and extreme each sought control of the French state as a means to control the rival church.

These tensions came to a head with the sudden death of Henry II, after a jousting accident in June, 1559. His son became king at just 15 years of age, as François II. Through an arrangment concluded when he was four, François was married at age 14 to Marie Stuart, Queen of Scots (later imprisoned and put to death by Elizabeth I of England). When he became King, two of his wife’s uncles, the duc de Guise and his younger brother, the cardinal de Lorraine, became his chief advisors. They quickly took control of the government. The painting below of the duc de Guise is by François Clouet, the official painter of King François I.

The Guises became known for their violent suppression of Protestantism. The House of Guise was found by Claude de Lorraine (1495-1550), a valiant military commander under François I, who in appreciation gave him the title of 1st duc de Guise. In 1525 the duc de Guise suppressed a revolt of Anabaptists, a Protestant sect, in a massacre in Saverne, Alsace, which earned him the title of “the Great Butcher.” His son François, the 2nd duc de Guise, organized the massacre at Amboise in 1560. François’ son Henri, the 3rd duc de Guise, played a role in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestants in Paris in 1572, and later founded and led the Catholic League (la Ligue Catholique), devoted to the anti-Protestant cause. He was assassinated at Blois in 1588 on order of King Henry III, a story we will tell when our bike trips arrive in Blois.

In early 1560 members of the Huguenot nobility began plotting to kidnap the King, and return him to power after they had removed the Guises. A meeting of the conspirators was held in Nantes on Feb. 1, 1560. The plot was discovered and the King was moved from Blois to Amboise, where the Chateau was more defensible. The conspirators were poorly organized, and an attack on March 17, at the gate of the Bons-hommes under the Heurtault Tower on the north side of the Chateau, was quickly repulsed by the troops of les Guises.

7. The Heurtault Tower, with the gate of the Bons-homme. In the distance, at the top of the wall, is the St-Hubert Chapel.

There followed a bloody massacre of all the conspirators and their troops. The town quickly ran out of gallows and began hanging Huguenots from the balconies of the chateau. Others were decapitated. “The cobblestones of the interior courtyards were red and sticky from the blood of decapitated nobles.” [2] An engraving by Jacques Tortorel and Jean Perrisin from 1570 shows the horror of the scene enacted in Amboise over several days. Tortorel and Perrisin were Protestant artists in Lyon. In 1570 they published in Geneva a collection of engravings on the religious conflicts in France between 1559 and 1570. [3]

8. Jacques Tortorel and Jean Perrisin, "The Execution of the Conspirators of Amboise" (1570).

The engraving shows the north wall of the chateau, as seen from the direction of Photo 2. In addition to the troops present, there are a good many spectators, including, near the lower right corner, a woman with a young boy. The Huguenots are to be taught a lesson.

Two men are being thrown from the chateau balcony with ropes around their necks. Five more are already hanging, along with a sixth on a gallows in the center of the engraving. The latter is the leader of the conspiracy, Jean de Barry, lord of la Renaudie manor in Périgord. La Renaudie was killed in a skirmish on March 19 in the Forest of Chateau-Renault as he headed toward Amboise with a small troop. His body was displayed as the engraving shows, and then chopped into five pieces, each hung at a gate to the chateau.

In the left foreground, a gallows carries three heads headless bodies lie nearby. A Huguenot Captain, M. de Villemongis, about to be decapitated with a sword, seems ready for his fate, as he washes his hands in the blood of those who have gone before him. [4]

This last figure reappears a century later, as the great French historian Jules Michelet describes how those who had fought with the Huguenot forces faced death that day in Amboise:

“Dying, they raised their loyal hands to God. One of them, M. de Villemongis, dipped his in the blood of his comrades already executed, and raising his red hands, cried in a strong voice, ‘This is the blood of your children, Lord! You will avenge it!'”[5]


Watch the video: Замки Франции. Долина Луары. Амбуаз. Amboise. Фрагмент 4-10.


Comments:

  1. Philips

    i'm better, maybe i'll keep silent

  2. Tojazshura

    I believe that you are making a mistake. I can defend my position. Email me at PM.

  3. Aluino

    All personal leave today?

  4. Baptiste

    how to act in this case?



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