The beginnings of the Conspiracy
After Henri II’s death in 1559, Catherine de Medici became regent for her son, king François II. It was she and the Guise family who effectively controlled the country : the duke of Guise was lieutenant general of the realm. After the execution of Anne de Bourg, counsellor to the parliament of Paris, Protestants felt threatened.
For that reason, some members of the Reformation movement tried to seize hold of the king and shield him from the influence of the Guise family.
The Queen of England, Elizabeth I, head of the Anglican Church, sent a financial contribution towards the conspiracy.
As Antoine de Bourbon refused to lead the conspiracy, Louis de Bourbon, prince of Condé was considered as a possible choice. Calvin and most of the Reformed Churches refused to have anything to do with such preparations.
The plot, badly organized, failed
The main conspirator, La Renaudie, a minor lord from the Périgord, gathered a troop of about 200 men and, approaching via the Loire valley, besieged Amboise, where the king was holding court. But someone found out about the plot, the Guise family managed to capture the conspirators and from 17th March onwards, there were severe measures of repression.
La Renaudie was killed and his body was drawn and quartered. The other leading members of the conspiracy were executed in Amboise – in presence of the court and of several men of note who were especially invited to the execution.
The prince of Condé declined having had any part in the conspiracy.
This act of repression caused Protestants to rise in revolt in many places throughout France – they seized Catholic churches and held Protestant services in them.
- ROMIER Lucien, La conjuration d’Amboise, Perrin, Paris, 1923
Jean Calvin (1509-1564)
A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.
The rise of Protestantism in France (1520-1562)
Luther’s ideas began to spread in France from 1520 onwards. The authorities did their best to oppose them. From 1540, under Jean Calvin’s influence, a new Church took shape, but separate from the Roman Catholic Church.
The massacre of Wassy (1562)
From the protestant point of view the wars of religion began with the massacre of Wassy, whereas from the catholic point of view it was Louis de Condé’s attack on Orléans which triggered off the hostilities.
The Colloquium of Poissy (1561)
In order to avoid a civil war between Catholics and Protestants, Catherine de Medici brought together theologians from both factions. However, the attempt failed.
The posters incident (1534)
Tracts of an insulting nature to the Catholic Church were put up in Paris, throughout the provinces and even in front of the king’s rooms. The king decided on a policy of repression.