Coligny, Gaspard de Châtillon, comte de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Coligny, Gaspard de Châtillon, comte de

Gaspard de Châtillon Coligny, comte de (gäspär´ də shätēyôN´ kôNt də kōlēnyē´), 1519–72, French Protestant leader. A nephew of Anne, duc de Montmorency, he came to the French court at an early age. He distinguished himself at Ceresole (1544) in the Italian Wars, was promoted colonel general of infantry, and in 1552 became admiral of France. He organized two unsuccessful colonies (1555, 1562) in the New World (see Rio de Janeiro; Ribaut, Jean). In 1557 he defended Saint-Quentin against the Spaniards, but he was taken prisoner and was not released until 1559. In the same year he made public profession of his conversion to Protestantism. He argued for the Protestant cause with Catherine de' Medici at the time of the conspiracy of Amboise (1560; see Amboise, conspiracy of). With Louis I de Condé (see under Condé, family) he commanded the Huguenots (French Protestants) after the murder of Protestants at Vassy (1562) and also in the second of the Wars of Religion (1567–68). An unsuccessful attempt to capture Coligny and Condé at Noyers (1568) brought on the third war, in which Coligny became sole leader, nominally as adviser to the young Henry of Navarre (later King Henry IV of France). Defeated at Moncontour, he was victor at Arnay-le-Duc (1570) and negotiated the Treaty of Saint-Germain (1570). Reconciled with Catherine and King Charles IX (1571), he became the king's favorite adviser. To weaken Catholic Spain he proposed that France aid the Low Countries, which were in rebellion against Spanish rule. Catherine, alarmed at the possibility of war with Spain, also feared that Coligny's increasing influence would weaken her own hold on the king. On Aug. 22, 1572, Coligny escaped the assassination ordered by Catherine and by Henri de Guise (see under Guise, family); two days later, however, he was murdered in the massacre of Huguenots instigated by Catherine (see Saint Bartholomew's Day, massacre of).

See Sir Walter Besant, Gaspard de Coligny (1879), E. Bersier, Coligny:The Earlier Life of the Great Huguenot (1884).

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