Saint Bartholomew's Day, Massacre of


Saint Bartholomew's Day, Massacre of

(Aug. 24–25, 1572) Murder of French Huguenots in Paris by Catholics. As part of the ongoing Wars of Religion, Catherine de Médicis agreed to a plot by the Guise family (see house of Guise) to assassinate the Huguenot Gaspard II de Coligny. When he was only wounded, Catherine feared discovery of her complicity and secretly urged faithful nobles to murder all the Huguenot leaders, who were in Paris for the wedding of the future Henry IV. The massacre began on August 24 and spread rapidly; after the leaders had been murdered, Huguenot homes and shops were pillaged and their occupants murdered and thrown into the Seine. Even after the royal order on August 25 to stop the killing, it continued and spread to Rouen, Lyon, Bourges, Orléans, and Bordeaux. By October, about 3,000 Huguenots had been murdered in Paris and probably tens of thousands more in the provinces.

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