Posted: December 22nd, 2020
The St. Bartholomew Day massacre (1572), caused by King Charles IX’s order to kill Huguenot leaders, was one of the most terrible moments of the bloody French wars of religion. Jacques Auguste de Thou, a Catholic statesman, witnessed the massacre first-hand and recounted it years later in his History of His Own Times.
St. Bartholomew Day massacre What are the tone and the language of de Thou’s account of the events? How does he describe the outlook of the perpetrators of the killings and that of the main target and victim, Admiral Coligny? What do you think are the motives of de Thou’s attitude, and what does such attitude imply as far as the author’s position vis-à-vis the wars of religion goes?
2. Philippe du Plessis-Mornay, one of the most prominent Huguenot leaders, wrote A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants (1579) as a reflection on the moral and political dilemmas elicited by the wars of religion. He asserts that “it is lawful to take arms for religion”, but under what conditions? On what grounds does Mornay argue that resistance to a king by the people may be legitimate? What aspects of the wars of religion do you think caused Mornay to affirm that a king’s authority is not absolute?
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