The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

The mysteries of a crime of state (24 August 1572)

Author: Arlette Jouanna

The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which began in Paris in August 1572 and later spread to numerous other French towns, was the most notorious bloodbath of its kind in early modern Europe. Occurring during the French wars of religion, the Massacre has for long encapsulated the worst features of religious violence. Over the centuries, its gruesome reputation has generated numerous conspiracy theories. This book seeks dispassionately to sift the evidence and follow where it leads, but also to understand how contemporaries came to terms with the events of 1572. It also follows the reactions of those most involved, paying particular attention to the way in which the French monarchy explained its actions to foreign rulers and how the survivors among the Protestant communities read the events in the light of their heavily biblical culture. The role of the Massacre in strengthening arguments for royal sovereignty is also explored.

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