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Musketeer, The - RICHELIEU and the HUGUENOTS

Huguenots were persecuted before Cardinal Richelieu rose to prominence as King Louis XIII's chief minister. Frans (Franz) Hogenberg—a Flemish-German painter, engraver and map maker who was known, among other things, for producing images of current events—created a work known as the Massacre de Vassy. Who was involved in this 1562 event (which occurred at a town in Normandy)? French Huguenots who were persecuted by French Catholics. From the Protestant point-of-view, this event marked the beginning of a time of religious wars in France. Illustration online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Edict of Nantes allowed Protestant worship in 200 French towns. One of those towns, La Rochelle, had become a Huguenot stronghold on the Atlantic coast. It was populated with skilled artisans and members of the bourgeoisie who were converting to the Protestant faith in substantial numbers.

Richelieu believed the Huguenots had special privileges that threatened the political authority of the state. French Protestants, for example, were permitted to use weapons to defend their towns. Would the people of La Rochelle use those arms against the King’s men? Of course they would - which is precisely why Richelieu looked on the Huguenot stronghold as a state within a state.

To eliminate the perceived Huguenot threat to Louis XIII’s authority, Richelieu ordered the siege of La Rochelle. It wasn’t the first time this port city on the Atlantic coast was the scene of intense fighting. With French support, the Spanish fought the English there in 1371.

The siege began on August 5, 1627. The Huguenots held-out for fourteen months. Recognizing that Protestants in France needed help, Charles I of England (the king who ultimately lost his head), dispatched aid.

Enter George Villiers, also known as Lord Buckingham.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jun 23, 2019


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