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french_wars_of_religion - Adam Hosey April 30th 2007...

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Adam Hosey April 30 th , 2007 Varying viewpoints on the French Wars of Religion The Reformation was purely a religious movement. The Reformation was a political movement. The Reformation was a social movement. The Reformation was wrong. The Reformation was right. There are few debates in history that have as many varying and mercurial viewpoints as the Reformation. Even in the midst of the movement there were skeptics who felt that Protestants were using religion as a mere “cloak” 1 with political and economic gain as the true motive. With a new generation of historians coming forth in the 20 th century, hundreds of years of historical “truth” has been questioned with the emphasis of the Reformation being placed on religion once again. It would be impossible to examine the Reformation as a whole in a mere six pages. As Mack P. Holt states in his book The French Wars of Religion , “Even specialist historians have never found explaining [the Reformation] a particularly easy task” (1995, p. 1). Holt maintains that the French Wars of Religion were about religion, if religion is understood as a social construction (p. 2). Looking at the characters and events during the period, the following paper will discuss both arguments of the French Reformation, that it used religion as a cloak, and that religion was the true purpose of more than fifty years 2 of civil war. When the first murmurs of Protestantism coming to France were being heard it could be said that religion was the one motive. In 1559 there was a synod in Paris between members of various reformed communities in France. The delegates created a “Confession of Faith,” which included forty Calvin-inspired articles. Most significantly, there was to be no connection with the established church of France. While the meeting stressed that there would still be loyalty to the king, as Daniel-Rops (1961) points out: The synod had very humbly assured the king of the loyalty of his Protestant subjects, and had begged him to study their doctrine more closely so that he might see for himself that it contained nothing subversive. But the underlying design of many of the ambitious leaders of the ‘Protestant party’ was probably quite different. (The Protestant Reformation, p. 511) 1 The term “cloak” was used in the diaries of Pierre de l’Estoile (1546-1611). 2 The length of the civil war is under debate, according to Holt, they lasted 1562-1629.
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Daniel-Rops’ vernacular is very interesting in this passage. Instead of simply using the phrase “leaders of the Protestants,” he instead chooses to categorize the Protestants as a “party.” This clearly implies that he saw the Huguenots as a political group rather than a religious movement. He goes on to explain, “The political antagonism was soon apparent” (p. 511). Three families held the power in France, the Bourbons, the Montmorencys, and the Guise. There were many significant people amongst these families, but perhaps no one was as enigmatic as Catherine de Medici, queen of France.
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french_wars_of_religion - Adam Hosey April 30th 2007...

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