23 August 2012

"One morning at the gates of the Louvre"

A 19th century painting by Édouard Debat-Ponsan, depicting Catherine de' Medici (in black) viewing the carnage of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (on this day in 1572).
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de' Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place six days after the wedding of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began on 23 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre expanded outward to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead vary widely, from 5,000 to 30,000.

The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it "was the worst of the century's religious massacres."  Throughout Europe, it "printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion".
Much much more at Wikipedia and elsewhere.


  1. Since it was painted in 188X, I wonder if this is a sort of historical re-imagining inspired perhaps by Alexandre Dumas, who has written extensively about it in "Queen Margot"(1845) or "The Two Dianas".

    1. At the Wikipedia link, the painting is described as being a reimagined version of the Dubois painting of the 16th century.

  2. It just so happens that the specific Catholics who had de Coligny killed were the Duke de Guise and his brother, and I am one of their descendants. My mother's maiden name, in fact, was Guise.

    Yeah, the Duke de Guise is considered the bad guys, but earlier in the family history an earlier Guise had been the main benefactor of Joan of Arc.

    The family is also tied up in the "Holy Blood Holy Grail" story, as part of the family of Jesus and Mary Magdalen, the one in Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code." Is it true? Who knows? Believe me, I was pretty taken aback in 1982 when I rad in HBHG about things that my grandmother had told me a decade earlier. So, some of it has a ring of truth, but I don't know.

    Steve Garcia

  3. Replies
    1. I totally agree, Steve. But when I tried turning it off earlier this year, the spam just poured in.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...