Politics and Religion in Sixteenth-Century France: A Study of the Career of Henry of Montmorency-Damville, Uncrowned King of the South

Politics and Religion in Sixteenth-Century France: A Study of the Career of Henry of Montmorency-Damville, Uncrowned King of the South

Politics and Religion in Sixteenth-Century France: A Study of the Career of Henry of Montmorency-Damville, Uncrowned King of the South

Politics and Religion in Sixteenth-Century France: A Study of the Career of Henry of Montmorency-Damville, Uncrowned King of the South

Excerpt

Few persons living in the troublesome days of the religious wars of the sixteenth century could have predicted the rise of the great French monarchy in the next hundred years. The struggle between the Huguenots and the Catholics, and the rivalries among the nobles, the lower classes, and the weak central government during the administration of Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III, presaged not only the downfall of the centralized state but also the possible extension of Spanish or even English influence in French territory. Yet during that period of bloodshed there developed, among certain political leaders in France, a new attitude toward the problems of the country. These men, the Politiques, as they were called, came to the conclusion, either from personal or from patriotic reasons, that the welfare of the state should supersede all local, religious, social, or political interests. They especially recognized the necessity for religious toleration if France was to maintain her existence as a consolidated state and resist foreign intervention.

Henry of Damville, governor of Languedoc, duke of Montmorency, marshal and constable of France, was one of the important leaders of that party. Successfully wielding the balance of power in the Midi, which was evenly divided between the Catholics and the Huguenots, he became practically the uncrowned king of the south. Even the government found it impossible . . .

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