European History Pt. 6 — France

Previously, we saw how Spain started out as the preeminent power in Europe, but quickly fell into decay.

Today we will look at France which took a somewhat opposite trajectory. When Spain was at its high point, France was a disorganized mess. However, it managed to pull itself up to be an extremely influential power in Europe.

pages 127-133

A History of the Modern World starts with an interesting point about France, which is that France, at the beginning of the P reformation, was already somewhat  independent from the Vatican. It had its own form of Catholicism. As a result, it was not nearly as swept up with the revolutionary spirit of P. Instead, only the most extreme type of protestantism could distinguish itself from the independent Catholicism of France, and this was Calvinism of a stark variety.

Nobles were mainly interested in this radical type of Calvinism and this upset the French kings because they perceived unrest in the spread of the  new religion.

But the source of France’s collapse was in 1559 (around the time Spain was invading the Netherlands at the height of its power), King Henry II was accidentally killed in a tournament and the line of succession was all turmoil until 1589 when Henry IV resumed an ordered control. Civil war reigned in the interim.

In 1672, Huguenots who were in Paris celebrating the marriage of Henry of Navarre were dragged from their beds in the middle of the night and killed. Henry of Navarre however eventually became king when the two other rivals for king had each other assassinated (wow). He became Catholic to shore up his political support (renounced his calvinism) but issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598 which  gave protestant nobles certain securities in their religion.

Henry IV was assassinated in 1610 and France was ruled by Cardinal Richelieu for the 30 years war (1618-1648).

Next is the 30 years war which is really complex, so I’ll probably do it in two parts.


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