St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

An eywitness account of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre by François Dubois
From the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland

The murder of thousands of French Protestants [Huguenots] in Paris beginning 24 August 1572. Orchestrated by Charles IX’s mother Catherine de’ Medici, the intent was to strike at the heart of Huguenot nobility – many of whom had gathered in Paris for the marriage of Henry of Navarre and Margaret of Valois. An attempt had been made two days before on the life of Calvinist leader Admiral de Coligny, and when that failed Catherine persuaded her reluctant son to order the massacre to stem the growing power of French Protestants. The Massacre had a far-reaching effect, encouraging the killing of Huguenots across the countryside – eventually in the Cévennes, where the book is partly set. It encouraged the continuation of violence against Huguenots that eventually tapered off with the Edict of Nantes in 1595, granting French Protestants religious freedom.