THE MASSACRE OF ST BARTHOLOMEW
WE have seen how dangerously short-sighted was Catherine de Medici's policy of appeasement. With an optimism as striking as it was foolish she had set out to succeed where the Emperor Charles V had failed -- to effect a compromise in religious doctrines between Catholic and Protestant. She handled the Colloquy of Poissy in August and September 1561 like a Court intrigue; and inevitably failed. She merely stimulated the growth and insolence of the Huguenot party, enraged the Catholics by the favour shown to heretics, and thus intensified the religious passions of the country. France emerged from the Colloquy a long step nearer civil war.
At the same time she had made a fatal blunder in the way she tackled the problem of Court faction. Here she had been so busy keeping Guise and Bourbon in artificial friendship that she had entirely neglected the middle party upon which the independence of the monarchy ought to have been based in a crisis -- the party of the Constable Montmorency. The consequence of this neglect was that Guise and Montmorency drew together and formed an alliance in defence of Catholicism. The Crown was left to manœuvre without any real strength of its own between two parties of passion.
But manœuvring was the very genius of this well-meaning woman; and in the autumn and winter of 1561-2 she was feverishly busy with it. She pursued her policy of a peaceful settlement with all the obstinacy and assurance of which her remarkable vitality was capable.
There seems little doubt that at this time she was
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Age of Catherine de Medici and Essays in Elizabethan History. Contributors: J. E. Neale - Author. Publisher: Jonathan Cape. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1963. Page number: 51.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.