French Wars

(1562-1598)

Main Thoughts

  • Acts of violence and civil wars were started between 1562 and 1598 because of religious differences
  • Protestantism was illegal in France causing Calvinist minority's grow in numbers and organization
  • A Huguenot appeal for a liberal treaty was ignored in 1562 causing a rash of wars break out between the catholic and Protestant religions
  • Consolation was attempted 1572 between Henry of Navarre and Margaret of Valois but stopped because Cathrin de' Medici urged the Catholics to murder Protestants
  • For the next week a protest against Protestant left 3000 dead this is know as the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre

War 1 (1562-1563)

The first religious war was coursed by a massacre at Vassy in 1562 by the Duc de Guise. A couple of his servants got into a fight with the Huguenots. They fired upon some unarmed Huguenots. Also set a church on fire and killed a number of people from the congregation.


Afterwords the national synod for the reformed Church appealed to Prince de Conde the prince of Paris to become the protector of the Churches. This moved the Huguenots away from there pastors and made them protectors. Conde then moved to capture land for France. A battle was fought over this land (Dreux) and the Catholics won.

War 2 (1567-1568)

Duc de Guise hab died and his decendant still apressed the Huguenot faction. This lead to another war that cardinal de Lorrain consolidated his power even more


war 3 (1568-1570)

Cardinal de Lorraine plotted to capture Condé and Coligny. William of orange from the Netherlands made a treaty with Condé and Coligny and they raised another army for the third war. Another peace was negotiated.

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572)

Coligny was dragged out of bed and Duc de Guise mocked the body by kicking it in the face and saying it was the king's will. Then they went around and butchered the neighbors. It was know as the thing that killed an entire generation of Huguenot leadership.

war 4 (1572-1573)

This happened because of the massacre made the protestant capital refused to pay taxes. They besieged the town in February. Their were high causalities for both sides. The siege was called off soon after because of the election of Duc d'Anjou to the throne of Poland.

war 5 (1574-1576)

An alliance was created between the Protestants and the Catholics called the Malcontents. It didn't last for long though, once the Protestants made a demand for religious tolerance the King of France declined it, and another war broke out. The war ended with the signing of a new peace treaty (Edict of Beaulieu), this allowed the Protestants to have free worship everywhere except around and in Paris.

WAR 6 (1576-1577)

Catholics hated the Edict of Beaulieu, and hated the fact that Protestants could have free worship almost everywhere. The Catholics demanded that the peace treaty should be abolished, and because of this conflicts arose. This lead into the sixth war which both sides lacked financial aid in funding. Because of this they decided to end the war with a new peace treaty called the Edict of Poitiers.

WAR 7 (1579-1580)

Small wars from the Edict of Beaulieu issue continued after the signing of the Edict of Felix. These smaller wars were located in more local and scattered areas, and they finally ended with the signing of the Edict of Felix.

WAR 8 (1584-1598)

The first part of this war was "The War of Three Henrys" a war amongst the royalists, Protestants and Leaguer forces. The second part began with the crowning of King Henry the IV (King Henry the III died in the first part of this war). King Henry IV captured Paris in 1590, and defeated the Spanish league supporting it.

The end of the wars (1598)

The wars that raged onward through the French Kingdom for 36 years finally ended in April 1598. The signing of the Peace agreement Edict of Nantes, with the Protestants, marked the end of the wars. This Peace treaty gave both Catholics and Protestants mostly equal rights.

Direct Cause-The slaughter of unarmed protestants in the town of Vassy by Duke de Guise.


Root Cause-Tension between the Catholics and Protestants, and the protestants illegal worship.

Key Figures

  • The Protestants
  • The Catholics
  • Henry III
  • Henry IV
  • Duke de Guise
  • Catherine de' Medici