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9-08-2015, 15:37

Later religious wars

The fi rst theatre of confl ict in the second round of religious wars was France. In 1559, France and Spain ended the long series of Habsburg–Valois wars by signing the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, which affi rmed Spanish dominance in Italy. These wars had been ruinously expensive for the French monarchy, which, as we saw in chapter 3 , sold offi ces to raise revenue. Francis I (ruled 1515–47) also made a treaty with the papacy, the Concordat of Bologna, in which he agreed to recognize papal supremacy over any church council in return for the right to appoint all French bishops and abbots, thus dramatically expanding the number of offi ces the French monarchy could sell or give as rewards. The Concordat gave the French monarchy control over the personnel of the French church and a vested interest in maintaining Catholicism. Religious reformers in France such as the Christian humanist Lefèvre d’Etaples debated Lutheran ideas as early as the 1520s, but the ideas of Calvin found far wider acceptance, particularly among urban residents and nobles. Calvin was himself French and wrote in French, and sent pastors trained at the Genevan Academy to French cities and noble households. Nobles in France saw accepting Calvinism as a way to combat the power of the monarchy, while urban artisans were attracted by the role it gave to the laity and its emphasis on work and order. French Protestants (called Huguenots) and their Catholic opponents used violent actions as well as preaching and teaching against each other, for each side regarded the other as a poison in the community that would provoke the wrath of God. Protestant teachings called the power of sacred images into question, and mobs in many cities took down and smashed statues, stainedglass windows, and paintings. They ridiculed and tested religious images, throwing them into latrines, using them as cooking fuel or building material, or giving them as toys or masks for children. Though it was often inspired by fi ery Protestant sermons, this iconoclasm is an example of men and women carrying out the Reformation themselves, rethinking the church’s system of meaning and the relationship between the unseen and the seen. Catholic mobs responded by defending images, and crowds on both sides killed their opponents, often in gruesome ways. Such murders led to open warfare during the 1560s, with the French monarchy generally backing the Catholics, but sometimes adopting a more conciliatory policy and arranging for truces. In 1572, it appeared as though the French monarchy wanted to make the truce more permanent, as the royal government invited the leaders of both sides to Paris to celebrate the lavish royal wedding of a Protestant prince (Henry of Navarre) to the sister of the king. A few days later, on August 24 (St. Bartholomew’s Day), most of the prominent Protestant wedding guests were assassinated on the order of the royal council, and thousands of other Protestants from all walks of life were slaughtered by mobs. The violence spread to other cities, where thousands more were killed, not through spontaneous mob action but on the direction of municipal authorities. This planned and orchestrated bloodshed, which became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, drove some Protestants into exile but others to renewed warfare and, as we saw in chapter 4 , to developing political theories justifying rebellion against a tyrannical ruler. The war dragged on for fi fteen years, exhausting both sides and frequently provoking further riots and assassinations, including the fatal stabbing of King Henry III (ruled 1574–89). This murder left the Protestant Henry of Navarre – the unfortunate bridegroom of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre – as the king of France (he ruled as Henry IV, 1589–1610). Despite – or perhaps because of – his own experiences, Henry was more pragmatic than doctrinaire in matters of religion, a position that was termed “politique.” Recognizing the fact that most French people were Catholic, Henry fi rst declared Catholicism the offi cial religion of France, and a few years later agreed to become Catholic himself. Radicals on both sides were aghast, and Catholic propaganda asserted that Henry’s conversion was not genuine, claiming he had said “Paris is worth a mass.” But mutual fatigue and an increasing fear of disorder – which would indeed erupt shortly in a massive peasant uprising in south-central France called the Croquants – led more moderate forces on both sides to accept Henry as king and stop fi ghting. Henry confi rmed this truce in 1598 in the Edict of Nantes, which stated clearly that Catholicism was the state religion of France, but gave Huguenots the right to live and worship freely in certain defi ned areas and the right to maintain about 150 fortifi ed towns. The toleration accorded by the Edict of Nantes was thus limited, and the Edict itself would be revoked in 1685 under Louis XIV (ruled 1643–1715), but it did provide many years of religious peace. Iconoclastic riots and hostility to a monarch were also part of religious wars in the Netherlands. This country, which Charles V had inherited from his grandmother Mary of Burgundy, was made up of seventeen quite independent provinces, many of them centered on towns such as Bruges, Ghent, Amsterdam, and Antwerp that were wealthy centers of trade and production. Charles, who had grown up in the Netherlands, was able to limit the spread of Lutheran ideas, but his son Philip, who had grown up in Spain and inherited the Netherlands along with Spain and the Spanish possessions in Italy and the New World when Charles abdicated in 1556, was much less effective against Calvinism. Merchants and artisans in the thriving towns were attracted to Calvinism because of the sense of purpose it offered and its validation of labor. Philip was not willing to tolerate this, and nor was his half-sister Margaret of Parma (ruled 1559–67), whom Philip appointed as regent while he stayed in Spain. Margaret began to repress Calvinism, and at the same time she raised taxes; these two moves together sparked a wave of iconoclastic rioting in 1566. Philip responded by sending an army under the duke of Alva to stop the riots and punish those who were destroying religious images. Alva carried out his task ruthlessly, executing hundreds of men after trying them through a special court that became known as the “Council of Blood.” These harsh moves were ineffective, and led instead to open rebellion and civil war against Spain. Spanish armies were initially unsuccessful, but gradually they affi rmed their hold on the southern ten provinces, which included Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. Calvinism was prohibited and the area (modern-day Belgium) remained Catholic and under the control of the Spanish Habsburgs. The seven northern provinces, including Holland and Utrecht, formed a union in 1579, which later became the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Philip did not accept this, and war continued, with the Dutch troops gaining victories under the leadership of a local nobleman, William of Nassau, prince of Orange (1533–84), known as William the Silent. William was shot by a French assassin loyal to Philip, and the leaders of the United Provinces looked beyond their borders to other Protestant areas for assistance against the Spanish. They particularly appealed to England, and when it looked as though Spain would continue its advance into the northern Netherlands, Elizabeth reluctantly sent money and troops. At just the same time, Mary, Queen of Scots, cousin and heir to the childless Elizabeth, became implicated in a plot against Elizabeth’s life. This conspiracy had the backing of the Spanish monarchy, and Mary was beheaded as a traitor. Philip received papal sanction and the promise of a huge payment if he invaded England, a move that he was already contemplating as the only way to reassert religious uniformity in Europe. Philip increasingly isolated himself in the newly built palace of the Escorial near Madrid, planning the invasion from afar. He authorized the assembly of a huge fl eet of ships in Lisbon, designed to attack the English coast directly and transport Spanish troops from the Netherlands to England in a land invasion. The fl eet of about 130 ships, which offi cial documents called “la felícissima armada” (the most fortunate fl eet), left Lisbon in 1588. This was a year later than originally planned because English pirates had burned ships, supplies, and most of the storage barrels as they lay stacked on the docks and new barrels had to be built. It was a disaster. The experienced general whom Philip was relying on died during the year’s delay. The new barrels were made of wood that had not been seasoned, so that they leaked, spoiling the food and water inside. Plans had not been communicated clearly to the Spanish troops and they were not prepared to be picked up, although ultimately this did not matter as Spanish pilots and captains were not able to get near the shore in any case. The Spanish ships were less maneuverable than the English ones, and some sank under English fi re or burned when hit by lighted “fi re-ships.” Shifting winds in the English Channel led many Spanish vessels to just sail right by into the North Sea, ultimately foundering in storms or off the Irish coast, where delighted (Catholic) people plundered the ships and killed any survivors. As a single event, the Spanish Armada was not as signifi cant as it is sometimes portrayed, for about half the ships made it back to Spanish ports and war in the Netherlands continued through the rest of Philip’s reign. Spain was unable to send enough troops to reinforce its hold on the entire Netherlands, however, for the booming Dutch economy provided plenty of ships, weapons, and manpower. Dutch pirates preyed on Spanish shipping and attacked colonial ports, while Dutch merchants organized to expand foreign trade through more peaceful, though no less ruthless, means. In 1609 the Spanish King Philip III (ruled 1598–1621) fi nally agreed to a truce, effectively recognizing the independence of the United Provinces. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the religious map of much of Europe was the product of just such uneasy truces. Italy, Spain, and Portugal were fi rmly Catholic, Scandinavia, England, and Scotland fi rmly Protestant, and Russia fi rmly Orthodox, but the middle of Europe was religiously divided.

 

 

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