French Civil War

By Jacob Shelton, Paige Leeper, Becca Ash and Nathan Panagos

The START and the END

The war started on March 1, 1562 and ended in 1598


The French Wars of Religion was a series of confrontations between the French Catholics and French Protestants. John Calvin developed a set of Protestant doctrines which lead to a widespread popularity of Calvinist beliefs. John Calvin's doctrines didn't not sit well with any religious rulers, which lead to the French Wars of Religion.

Who Fought?

This French war of religion was fought between the Catholic League and the Huguenots.

Direct Cause

The Massacre of the Huguenots

Root Cause

  1. Factional rivalry between major families in France; these families included Montmorency, Guise, and Bourbon
  2. Economic depression

The Catholic League

Political Origin

The Catholic League was started to counter the growing powers of the Lutherans, Calvinists, and the Reformed Church of France.

Key Figures


St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, 1572

A day where Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris, and surrounding areas. The massacres lasted from August 24th to October 3rd, and nearly 25,000 Huguenots were slain by then. They were slain because they were trying to meet openly and separately from the Catholic church, but also for political reasons.

Edict of Nantes, 1598

Henry IV issued the state religion of France to be Catholicism, but also granted protestants (Huguenots) equality with Catholicism and a religious and political freedom within their domains.

The Huguenots

Created by John Calvin

John Calvin inspired French protestants with his Writings, which caused the beginning of the Huguenots. The Huguenots opposed the Catholic church because they viewed their sacramental rituals as unnecessary and said that they had an obsession with death. They believed that most of the things that the Catholics did for redemption was unnecessary. The Huguenots viewed Christian life as something that could be expressed through living a simple Christian life, and not through the Catholic's sacraments. The Catholics strongly opposed the Huguenots and often persecuted them for having church meetings. The largest massacre of Huguenots was the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572. During the Wars of Religion, Mary Queen of Scots established and applauded a policy of rounding up French Huguenots on charges of heresy in front of Catholic judges and torturing them as punishment. in 1561, the Edict of Orleans created an end to this persecution, and in 1562 the Edict of Saint-Germain formally recognized the Huguenots for the first time. This simply disguised the worsening tensions between Catholics and Protestants. These tensions caused 8 civil wars between 1562 and 1598. With every war, the Huguenots trusted the Catholic throne less and the violence between the two became worse. In 1598, a lasting time period of open hostility occurred. The civil wars gradually developed into an extended feud between the Houses of Bourbon and Guise, both of which staked a claim to the French throne and held rivaling religious views. On March 1, 1562, there was a massacre at Vassy where hundreds of Huguenots were killed. This was the beginning of the French Wars of Religion. Later in this year, the Huguenots destroyed the tomb and remains of Saint Irenaeus, an early Catholic Church bishop. After this, the Huguenots became organized as a definitive political movement. Protestant preachers created a big army, and the House of Bourbon allied with the Huguenots, which gave them more wealth and strength. At the height of Huguenot strength, they controlled 60 cities and were a big threat to the Catholic crown and to Paris for the next three decades.


It was the beginning to the religious toleration