Violence and the State in Sixteenth-Century France
The purpose of this paper is to show that, in different ways, the relation of the monarchic state to violence underwent a decisive change that had two phases. During the first part of the sixteenth century, monarchical power was defined as violent power. Then, at the time of the Wars of Religion, it came to be represented as a preeminently non-violent power.1
A VIOLENT KING
The imagery of the monarchy in the early Renaissance, contrary to what one might think, was built on images of violence, intended to create a sphere of legitimacy and thus obedience. As we know, the king possessed a kind of sacredness conferred on him by his coronation, which made him the living representation of Christ on earth, whose mission was to maintain peace and justice among his subjects. From the reign of Charles VIII (r. 1483-1498) on, there was a perceptible tendency towards what may be called over-sacralization of the king’s person.2 Violence was at the heart of this tendency, for it gave dynamic force to the sanctity claimed by the sovereign.
The Italian wars were caused by the assertion of claims to the Kingdom of Naples and the duchy of Milan, but also, and equally so, by a necessity for the king to show himself to his people as a king of violence, who, like Charles VIII or François I (r. 1515-1547), did not hesitate to expose his body to enemy blows.3 In French chronicles of the Battle of Fournoue against the Italian confederates (1495), it was shown as an act of justice accomplished by the king with divine help.4 When the arm of the king struck down the enemies of France, chroniclers saw justice punishing the disloyalty of forsworn enemies. It was thus a victory over sinful men, the enemies of God. Accounts describe the king at the forefront of the battle, in the midst of a storm, his sword in hand. He, himself, killed two Venetian patricians, and put three others to flight, which left him cut off in the midst of the combat. Even though his knights and the army also were fighting, the narrative centers the description of the battle on the king’s actions and his willingness to sacrifice himself. The outcome of the battle showed, say the texts, how the king as the elect of God defeated evil men who followed their passions, in a time and space that became sanctified. The Battle of Fournoue is seen as a miracle which, through the violence used by the king and his army, confirmed the holiness of the sovereign: There was in him a force exercised by God himself.
All French kings of the early Renaissance had themselves presented through an imaginaire in which they appeared as warlike sovereigns who fulfilled a divine will for justice by leading their nobles into Italy. They claimed to be instruments of the will of God. The blood of enemies spattering their armor was like a second anointing with holy oil. Louis XII at the Battle of Agnadelo (14 May 1509) is shown as feeling neither doubt nor fear as he rained down blows on the enemy. If exhaustion prevented him from continuing to fight, he was still believed to be under divine protection, since he escaped from all who sought to attack him.5 The battle was a judgment of God. It proved that the king of France was the elect among Christian princes, just as David was the elect of God.
François I marks the apogee of this type of representation of the royal person as a manifestation of divinity. His victory of Marignano in 1515, on the feast of the Holy Cross, consecrated the king as another Constantine, prefiguring the coming of a universal monarchy. Here too, the king was a king of total violence, not afraid of the disarray of combat, a king who had ignored and scorned death.6 Even his defeat at Pavia in 1525 was transformed by royal mythographers into a divine sign. The king was defeated, to be sure, but the official narrative arranged a kind of historical recovery operation. The chronicles describe how dead bodies piled up around François I and all his commanders were killed by the imperial forces. But he refused to surrender; he continued to fight and to risk death; he fought “until his strength was exhausted” and if, finally he was taken captive and did not die on the field of battle, it was because he was too exhausted to be able to fight any longer, not because he surrendered or gave up. He was shown as resembling Christ, wounded, his face stained with blood, mocked by enemy soldiers. His being made a prisoner did not mean renouncing the sacrificial exposure of himself to violence. Death did not want to take him, say the texts; a shot from an arquebus was shown to have struck a relic of the Cross that he wore around his neck. This was a judgment from Heaven;7 by saving him God showed that, in spite of the warning given by the defeat, he was His representative as king on earth. The defeat was only a trial that he had to undergo, to test him and bring him closer to the sufferings of Christ. It did not indicate a lack of holiness, but on the contrary, showed that he, of all Christian monarchs, was the closest to God. Its purpose was to draw attention to the great sins of his people, which were the cause of the catastrophe. The judgment of God was turned into an affirmation of royal grandeur and power.
One sees, then, that war partook of the sacredness of the Renaissance king, who used it to demonstrate the virtus divina (divine power) that made him an intermediary between his people and God. Royal violence, in battle, allowed the sovereign to demonstrate the nearness of his earthly being to God.8
The emblem of the salamander chosen by François I also illustrates how royal violence was central to the political representation of the monarchy. The motto accompanying the creature with flame issuing from its mouth was: “I feed on good fire and I extinguish evil fire.” The salamander destroyed the fire of harmful and destructive passions that prompted subjects to vices and foreign princes to unjust wars. It indicated that violence was necessary so that the king could realize the mission providentially conferred upon him by God, a mission recalled in prophecies describing how the destruction of infidels and unbelievers was to be accomplished by the French monarchy. War was shown as a duty, as an act of purification. Its counterpart was the good fire that nourished the salamander, the fire of charity. The war king of the early Renaissance also was a charitable prince; indeed, it was his duty in charity to expose his body, on behalf of his people and all Christian peoples, in the dangerous and turbulent world of battles. His violence, when used, was seen as absolutely just, directed against allegedly impious rulers, such as the kings of Naples (under Charles VIII), the blasphemous and arrogant Venetians and a corrupt pope (Louis XII), or a traitorous emperor (François I).9
Through the orchestration of royal imagery, violence played a large part in the equilibrium in political development achieved during the first half of the sixteenth century. From the 1550s on, it also was apparent that the period of the Italian wars coincided with an era of serenity for the aristocracy and nobility. The monarchy was no longer confronted, as it had been in the fifteenth century, with conspiracies and revolts of nobles that threatened its stability.10 The one exception was an abortive uprising made by the Constable of Bourbon in 1523.11 The monarchic state seemed to have harnessed to its purposes the nobility’s potential for violence by giving it free exercise in the European conflicts. The nobility thus found itself integrated into the logic of an imagined world centered on the holy wars of the king.
Laurent Bourquin’s work on the Champagne region has shown that the reign of François I led to a blossoming of personal relations between the king and local noble lineages. The great nobles of Champagne fought in the Italian wars in great numbers, carried along by a historical movement, which may seem in retrospect like a royal stratagem for social control. The nobility was led to satisfy its ontological need for glory and honor in the sacral exaltation of a monarchy renewed by war. Bourquin describes the creation of a kind of “brotherhood in battle” with the king.12 Having a role in society’s wider purposes, nobles were no longer so aggressive in seeking royal favor. War was thus beneficial to state power. It was certainly a test of the sacred role of the king, but at the same time it created a common epic adventure; it allowed the nobility to acquire honor, and capitalize on it from generation to generation.13
Here too, violence seems to have been necessary for the construction of a renewed royal state. It was a means for the state to reduce the violence that traditionally had menaced its existence, and to appropriate or cannibalize it.
Finally, it should be noted that there was another aspect to the relationship between the pre-1560 royal state and violence. According to absolutist theories of monarchy, the king had both the right and duty to put down with his sword of justice all who opposed the mission of monarchy. It was his duty to act against heretics. Already in 1518, François I had received a Raphael painting, sent by the pope, which showed Saint Michael striking down the devil. He was being asked to contemplate his own role, and being encouraged to persevere in it. In 1559, the engraver Jean Duvet identified Henri II with the archangel casting the enemies of God into infernal darkness.
In 1535, François I made his position clear in a speech in which he compared heresy to a poison that could kill the body politic. If his own arm were infected, he would cut it off; if his own children were tainted, he would sacrifice them.14 It was thus vitally necessary to prosecute the heretics, who were an insult to God and a public scandal, and punish them with fire and sword. This repression was portrayed as a remedy for violence. Heresy was a crime of lese majesté against divine and human authority, because the heretic was an emissary of the devil. The heretic was a seducer, who, by attracting souls to him, caused their spiritual death. He was performing a violent act and royal justice had to act against him because the sovereign was responsible to God for the souls committed to his care.
At the head of the punishments available to the king was the stake. As with the violence of battle, the violence meted out at the stake “expressed the signal quality” of the divine grace possessed by the king, and displayed it in dramatic form. Capital punishment as an expression of the law “comes from the capacity of the Magistrate to hand out death while himself transcending it.” It was a discourse on the sacred function of the monarchy and on the monopoly of violence which that implied. As with battle, it occurred rarely; in the jurisdiction of the parlement of Paris there were twenty-four executions between November 1534 and December 1535, thirty-nine between May 1547 and March 1550. According to David El Kenz, it was a political demonstration of sovereign authority, of the king’s ability to purify the realm by carrying out a sacrifice.15
FACTORS OF CHANGE
After 1559, the imagery of relations between the monarchy and violence changed radically, for several reasons. First, the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) brought a sudden end to the Habsburg-Valois wars, and thereby broke a dynamic of representation. There had been a system in which war was expected to go on forever, because it allowed the king to dramatize and thus consecrate his sacred nature by offering himself as a sacrifice, but Henri II now put an end to the system. The reactions, which can be found in the memoirs of contemporary nobles, are very significant. With one stroke of the pen the king erased a past full of honor and glory; the texts say he deprived his nobility of the honor and glory they had won on the battlefields of Italy.16 The peace with Spain also deprived the king of some of his sacred quality; it hinted at latent conflict between the king and the nobility, even in the dreams of one of Henri’s favorites, Montluc. When Henri was killed in a tournament by a blow from the count of Montgomery, Montluc was far away from Paris, but he saw the king’s death in a dream the night before it happened. Certainly this was a traditional type of dream warning, but it is impossible not to read it as a Freudian expression of a repressed desire, indicating an unconscious conflict with the king who, in making peace with Spain, had broken the thread of history and broken the imagery of his own power, by depriving the nobility of the opportunity to seek honor.17
The image of the self-sacrificing monarch also suffered a destructive shock from the king’s death. The Calvinists saw a link between his death and the persecutions that the followers of the Gospel had suffered in his reign, particularly after the Chambre Ardente was established in 1547.18 The king was a persecutor, they maintained, and God had chastised him in a biblical way. The right to use the sword against the Huguenots, which he asserted, was contrary to the divine will. The sacrifice that the monarchic state claimed to be performing for God, by burning heretics, was a sacrifice against the will of God. Here was a fundamental inversion of meaning: in the Huguenot discourse royal violence became a negative sign, showing that the king lived in ignorance of God, in evil. At the other extreme, after 1561, Catholic preachers and apologists maintained that a king who tolerated heretics in his kingdom brought divine justice down on himself. They made the holiness of the king conditional on his ability to exterminate the Huguenots. Thus, on both sides of the religious divide, factors that destabilized the royal ideology were at work.
This destabilization can be seen working along several axes. The first was spectacular. In 1558, a Chancellery clerk, named Caboche, flung himself on the king, knife in hand, shouting, “Coward, I must kill you.”19 It seems that he was acting on religious motives, as his two brothers were imprisoned as heretics at Meaux. The king, hitherto a dispenser of violence through the strength given his sword by God, suddenly became an object of violence. Even apart from the conspiracy of Amboise in March 1560, which was an attempt both to take control of the person of the king and to present him with a Calvinist confession of faith, trouble was spreading through the kingdom. Both Catholics and Protestants used violence in defiance of royal ordinances and edicts demanding civil peace on pain of judicial punishment for violators. The Huguenots were increasingly committing acts of iconoclasm and occupying churches to turn them into Protestant temples. Royal officers either stood by passively or were powerless to stop these public deeds. The violence was not, it is true, explicitly directed against royal authority. The Catholics, meanwhile also were breaking the civil peace; groups of militants organized in confréries to attack Huguenots who were gathered for communion services, and massacred some of them according to rituals that showed a victory of divine justice over demonic forces conjured forth by Satan. The full monopoly on the use of violence claimed by the monarchy was now lost.20
Further, even though the official discourse on both sides never directed violence against the person of the king, who was shielded from attack while his evil councilors were denounced, it still can be decoded in a more radical way on a symbolic or unconscious plane. The Calvinists, in 1562, when they were destroying wooden and stone images in churches in the towns they controlled, sometimes went further: at the Hôtel de Ville in Orléans the sculptures of kings were thrown down and destroyed. At Notre-Dame de Cléry the statue of Louis XI was broken. The heart of the young king, François II, was exhumed and then chewed by some soldiers. The same may be said of the words of an iconoclast, as reported to Blaise de Montluc, who refused to obey the king’s law and called Charles IX a “petit reyot de merde” (a shitty little king) who ought to be made to work as his subjects did. At Angoulême, the tombs of François I’s ancestors were opened and the skeletons burned.21 A certain kind of violence seems to have been at work, at times and at a symbolic level, which denied the sacred nature of royalty, and held that the royal person was only a human being. This violence existed at the margin of an official Calvinist discourse, which remained faithful to Calvin’s teaching that submission to the magistrate is the will of God, even when the magistrate is unjust.
Thus very rapidly, in the space of a few months, there was a complete reversal; the monarchy, from being the only font of a sacrificial violence expressing its sacred nature, and maintaining the order of the Christian world in alliance with God, became a target, directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, of violent demonstrations in which this role was appropriated by others. The crown became a target for religious factions, behind which were aristocratic pressure groups and their clienteles. And, although these disputes were very isolated prior to 1567, with the outbreak of the second and especially the third civil war mention must be made of the fact that on the edges of Huguenot polemical discourse there appeared a direct questioning of royal authority: the figure of a king who had a contract with his people and could be deposed if he governed against public good and sought to turn them away from God by violence.22 In a few publications, which, however, seem revealing, there is no longer a question of a king badly advised but of a tyrant king. On the Catholic side, when the monarchy imposed coexistence between religions -- first in 1562, then with edicts of pacification in 1563, 1568, and 1570 -- the rhetoric of the preachers was unleashed, sometimes suggesting that the law of the king must not take precedence over the law of God.23 Outbreaks of violence increased: Protestants chased from their homes by the war were massacred when they returned; followers of the Gospel were assaulted when they returned from preaching. Even in peacetime the royal law was constantly being confronted with words or deeds that led to tense situations.
When faced with these attempts at usurping royal authority, the monarchy had a clear reply, formulated around a new claim. War was no longer glorified as it had been previously; on the contrary, war was an evil whose power had to be broken before a new golden age could begin. The sacred foundation of royalty, complemented by the consecration at coronations, was henceforth the refusal of violence.
A NON-VIOLENT KING
The important point in explaining how these forms of argumentation emerged is that there was a change in both political representation and practice, and that this transformation led to a decentering of violence. A different image of the king and his state was now exalted and supported by two major philosophical systems.
During the Wars of Religion, the king no longer based the sacred character of his office on his sacrificial capacity to exercise or to repress violence but, on the contrary, on his desire to maintain peace among his subjects through his laws. From a king of violence he became a king of non-violence. In continuity with this displacement, at the center there was also a “demilitarization” of the king’s person. From the death of Henri II to that of Henri III, the king no longer fought at the head of his armies; he let his favorites or a younger brother lead them into battle. His primary mission was to prevent civil violence, insofar as that was possible, because when violence was unleashed barbarism took over and there was no more justice.
A first expression of this ideological change was at work until 1567. It was put in place by Chancellor Michel de l’Hospital, who defined the king’s mission very precisely. If there was religious division in the kingdom, it was because the French people had, since the beginning of the century, neglected their virtues and abandoned themselves to their vices: luxury, ambition, greed, lust. God had punished them by sending religious division that was less a cause of division than itself a result of division, according to Michel de l’Hospital. The violence between Catholics and Huguenots in which both parties sought to defeat each other and conquer the kingdom for their own religion only plunged the state and the people deeper into evil. To imagine that violence could reduce the religious divisions -- by the use of passions working cruelly and wickedly -- was to make use of evil, even to advance further in evil. It was not for men, by their own means, to put an end to a punishment from God, for violence was a figure of the evil by which they incurred divine wrath. Violence was sin. What was needed was to pray and ask God’s pardon for the sins that had caused a rival faith to appear in the kingdom. Only God could put an end to religious division, and no one could know when that would happen.
The role of the king was vital. For l’Hospital, the king was chosen by God not to make war, but to make justice reign and to fight against passions. He should do everything possible to prevent war; he should impose peace on the parties concerned. The paradigm of the prince was that of a Stoic emperor ruling in full control of his passions, and against the passions of his subjects. L’Hospital, who was influenced by Erasmus, sought to impose a vision of political order in which the state followed the doctrines of Christ, teaching and demonstrating to all that peace should unite men for eternity. War and violence were evils. In the field of international relations, the only acceptable wars were those to defend the king’s subjects against the aggression of greedy and ambitious sovereigns. In the domestic field, the king’s law should always be used to prevent civil troubles.
The model of the good king was Solomon, not David. It was that of a king who was both judge and arbiter; he did not seek to use violence against the wicked and unjust, for they were only wicked and unjust through blindness. He should use his right of pardon, which was not a defeat of absolute power but rather its finest expression. By preventing his subjects from tearing each other apart he appeared as a model, showing that love prevails over hate. Violence consists in denying the holiness of this sovereign.24
A second variation of this reorientation of the ideology of power can be found in the immediate entourage of Catherine de Medici and, particularly, her sons Charles IX and Henri III. It was inspired by the Neoplatonist Florentine philosophy of the late fifteenth century, which was popularized in the second half of the sixteenth century by the poet Pierre de Rondard and the philosopher Loys Le Roy. Here, too, it was the king’s business to do everything possible to prevent violence that pitted one group of his subjects against another. When Catherine entrusted the education of her sons to Bishop Jacques Amyot, she wanted a king who would be, according to Amyot, a philosopher king in the manner of Plato. He should be familiar with all of the sciences and thus he should possess the mysteries of the universe. Knowledge became synonymous with access to the divine because it gave the virtue of wisdom by making known the order of creation as a harmonious order divinely created. Knowledge was substituted for violence. One part of the work of a king became the contemplation of harmony. The other part was to try to bring the base human world, divided and corrupted by human passions, back towards that divine harmony. Once again, violence was the exact opposite of good statesmanship. The king had to do everything possible to avoid violence. As a king he had to show love towards his subjects, governing with prudence but also with cunning to bring them into the union and concord demanded by God. This was the concept of royal power that Charles IX, aided by his mother, put in play between the pacification of Saint Germain (8 August 1570) and the massacre of Saint Bartholomew (24 August 1572), as may be illustrated by the clever plan that allowed the marriage of a Catholic princess, Marguerite de Valois, and a Protestant prince, Henri of Navarre, to be celebrated with great solemnity as a great ritual of peace that would open a golden age of reconciliation between the religious factions.25
If the rejection of violence characterized the political ideology of a monarchy incessantly under the pressure of violent events, it was nonetheless true that, in these particular circumstances, the political project of the royal state of the last Valois kings included violence in several particular types of occasions.
First, the monarchy, even if unwillingly, had to go to war when the balance of forces left no other alternative. This happened in March and April 1562 after the ardently Catholic Duke François de Guise massacred a group of Calvinists at Vassy, and touched off, through a kind of long-range coup d’état, a mechanism of conflict that the monarchy could not stop, in spite of all its efforts. Catherine de Medici and her advisors had to go to war, under pressure from the Catholic triumvirs (including Guise), and from a Huguenot faction that was occupying many towns in the kingdom. But as soon as she regained a position of force, Catherine returned to what she herself termed a “work of goodness and humanity,” the quest for civil peace (the Peace of Amboise, March 1563). If, in 1567, the crown agreed to a war against the Protestants, it was because Prince Louis de Condé had attempted to seize the royal family, in a conspiracy known as the Surprise of Meaux. In 1568, the monarchy took the initiative by trying to arrest the Huguenot leaders and then throwing itself into an all out war against the Calvinist dissidents; this was undoubtedly to prevent an internationalization of the religious conflict and an ideological radicalization of Protestant political thought.
Under the reign of Henri III the same pattern can be seen: war was not an end in itself. The monarchy used it only to regain control of the center of power when it felt weakened by the schemes and rivalries of Catholics and Protestants, and by the pressures they both could put on the royal state. It was never a war to the death, seeking to obliterate the enemy; force was used to restore stability to an unfavorable situation, and to assemble the basis for a peace in which the king could again work to moderate human passions.26 There was a realistic acknowledgment of the need to resort to war to advance a pacifist utopia supported by royal power.
The recourse to violence by the royal crown was exceptional. It was a kind of trick played on history. As soon as the peace was signed, as for instance at the entry of Charles IX into Rouen, 12 August 1563, the triumph of peace over war was celebrated; a temple of Janus was erected before the cathedral and the king closed its doors as a sign of the end of a period of barbarism and unhappiness. The king held the keys to the temple in one hand and in the other he held Mars, the god of war, in chains. There could be no better illustration of the ideological shift of the monarchy.
It was not only war that could, in exceptional circumstances, bring violence into the royal sphere of action. The other side of the picture was assassination, when the power of the monarch was confronted with an impasse that threatened to precipitate the kingdom into civil war. Violence then became one of the ways to preserve peace and defend the kingdom from misfortune. In this respect, too, realism had a place in the peaceful utopia. The black legend that attaches to the last Valois kings and their mother must be altogether rejected. Even though they were probably familiar with the thought of Machiavelli, they were never “Machiavellian.” Crime surfaced as an instrument of government only when there was an urgent need to weaken or neutralize the forces of violence and war. That was what happened on Saint Bartholomew’s Day, 1572. The policy of bringing about a new age of peace and concord by the marriage of Marguerite de Valois and Henri de Navarre has already been mentioned. Its aim was to perpetuate a peace that the rulers believed conformed to the will of God. The attack on Admiral Coligny, wounded by a hidden sniper who succeeded in escaping, upset this plan. The Huguenots demanded justice, against Guise, whom they suspected of being behind the plot. If they did not obtain justice, there was a risk of an all out war against a king who could be identified as an unjust prince. The extremist Catholics in Paris, on the other hand, considered that the attack was done in obedience to God’s word, and obviously the monarchy could not act against the duke of Guise. Thus this situation, when all avenues seemed blocked, was probably what decided Charles and his mother to carry out a massacre of the military leaders of the Huguenots who were born in Paris. But the enthusiasm of the Parisian Catholics led to the massacre of several thousand people.
Violence was the hidden face of a policy of concord. The same occurred in 1588, when King Henri III had the duke of Guise and his brother the cardinal assassinated in turn. Here again was an act of the monarchy, by which the king thought he could regain control over events, and above all, avoid the logic of history imposed on him by the duke of Guise and the Catholic League. This policy would have involved the monarchy in a war of extermination against the Protestants, a bloody war of extermination that went against Henri III’s humanist principles. The search for peace was disguised behind the king’s crimes, whose aim was to weaken the League by depriving it of its charismatic leader, and thus give the initiative in the political game back to the crown. The crime came from a philosophy of struggle against violence, against the inhumanity of a war that was a cause of suffering to all the king’s subjects.
A Catholic vision of violence was ranged against the Valois monarchy of peace. This violence stemmed from an appropriation of God-given violence by those who put all their faith in a will to combat evil. This is what happened from 1585 on with the League. For the Leaguers, the only legitimate king was one who exercised his violence against heretics. If he did not do this, his power was questioned. And he could be deposed, and it was the duty of zealous Catholics to assume the mission of combating the enemies of God. When Jacques Clement killed King Henri III in 1 August 1589, the crisis reached its height; the king was put to death in the name of the violence of God carried out by the arm of the chosen. The violence was a sign of divine punishment.
The last question to be considered is the following: during the first half of the sixteenth century, royal power was built on the double image of a king fighting his enemies and striking down with a sword of justice those who opposed his law and justice inside his kingdom. In contrast to this monopoly of violence and the sanctification of the king by the use of violence, the king at the time of the Wars of Religion sought desperately to reject violence from the field of action and from the picture of the world. He was a king of peace and concord, and violence only occurred in extreme situations. The assassination of the king marked the end of this philosophical readjustment, which attempted to adapt absolutism to the new issues arising from the existence of two religions in the kingdom.
However, it is striking to see that the new monarchy, constructed by Henry IV, performed a kind of synthesis in balancing images of war and peace. The king, in the royalist discourse after 1589, reassumed his military aspect. He certainly upheld his legitimate right to the throne by his birth, but he consecrated that legitimacy by his victories. A poster, which has been reproduced hundreds of times, shows Henri as a roman emperor, in triumph. In the background, there is a battlefield piled high with the bodies of his enemies; he, like François I, was shown facing death without fear, trusting his glory to Providence. He was the elect of God and no human force could detract from his victory over his enemies, no violence could strike him down. But at the same time he was a king of prophecy. It was on these neo-Stoic foundations that a renewed theory of obedience was built. The king incarnated the destiny of the kingdom of France, which was a destiny of peace and happiness. It was pointless to resist him since he was the incarnation of history leading to restoration of peace that was inevitable, unstoppable, and necessary because it had been written for all eternity. The violence by which some of his subjects, led astray by their passions, sought to resist his glorious victory, by war or regicidal acts, was in vain. Nothing could prevent his conquering progress. The king, in his earthly body, was identified with the history of his kingdom, and at the end of the conflict, a new golden age would arrive, an age of happiness for the subjects who obeyed their sovereign’s absolute authority, an age when violence would disappear, an age of peace.
Thus violence, the necessary sign of divine election, would finally make way for mercy, witnessing also to its divine virtue.27 It is perhaps this balancing of imagery that accounts for the success of Henri IV’s monarchy.
For a detailed discussion, see Denis Crouzet, Les guerriers de Dieu: la violence au temps des troubles de religion vers 1525-1610, 2 vols. (Seyssel, 1990).
See Yvonne Labande-Mailfert, Charles VIII: le vouloir et la destinée (Paris, 1986).
Denis Crouzet, “Désir de mort et puissance absolue de Charles VIII à Henri IV,” De l’État: Fondations juridiques, outils symboliques, revue de synthèse 112 (Jul.-Dec. 1991): 423-41.
Jean de Bourdigné, Chroniques d’Anjou et du Maine, ed. comte de Quatrebarbes (Angers, 1842), 268.
Bernard Quillet, Louis XII (Paris, 1986), 390.
M. du Bellay, Les mémoires de messire Martin du Bellay, contentant le discours de plusieurs choses advenues au royaume de France, depuis l’an 1513 jusques au trépas du roy François Ier ..., ed. Michaud-Poujaulat (Nouvelle Collection des mémoires ... Paris, 1866), V: 125-26. See also Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris sous le règne de François premier (1515-1534), ed. Ludovic Lalanne (Paris: 1834), 22.
Du Bellay, Les mémoires, 195-97.
Guillaume du Bellay, Instruction sur le faict de la Guerre: Extraictes des livres de Polybe, Frontin, Vegece, Cornazan, Machiavelle et plusieurs autres bon autheurs (first edition 1548, Paris, 1553), 5.
I am using Anne Marie Lecoq’s analysis: François Ier imaginaire: Symbolique et politique à l’aube de la Renaissance française (Paris, 1987).
Denis Crouzet, “Royalty, Nobility, and Religion: Research on the Wars of Italy,” Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the Western Society for French History, Santa Barbara, 7-10 November, 1990, vol. XVII (1991): 1-14.
Denis Crouzet, “Le connétable de Bourbon entre ‘pratique,’ ‘machination,’ ‘conjuration,’ et ‘trahison,’” in Complots et conjurations dans l’Europe moderne: Actes du Colloque international organisé par l’École française de Rome, 30 septembre-2 octobre 1993, ed. Yves Marie Bercé (Rome, 1996), 253-69, and idem, Charles de Bourbon connétable de France (Paris, 2003).
Laurent Bourquin, Noblesse seconde et pouvoir en Champagne aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles (Paris, 1994), 19-31.
Symphorien Champier, Les gestes ensemble la vie du preulx Chevalier Bayard (1525), ed. Denis Crouzet (Paris, 1992), 7-101.
See Denis Crouzet, La genèse de la Réforme française 1520-1562 (Paris, 1996), 234-35; and Robert J. Knecht, Un prince de la Renaissance: François Ier et son royaume (Paris, 1998), 250.
David El Kenz, Les bûchers du rai: la culture protestante des martyrs (1523-1572) (Seyssel, 1997), 55-65.
Crouzet, La genèse, 544-46.
Crouzet, Les guerriers, I: 451-55.
Antoine de la Roche-Chandieu, “Ode sur les misères des Eglises françaises qui ont esté si longtemps persécutées,” Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de Protestantisme Français 33 (1884): 185-203.
Mémoires de Claude Haton: Édition intégrale, ed. Laurent Bouquin, vol. I (1553-1565) (Paris, 2001), 124-25.
Crouzet, Les guerriers, I: 451-55.
Crouzet, Les guerriers, I: 756-62.
Sentence redoutable et arrest rigoureux du jugement de Dieu à l’encontre de l’impiété des Tyrans, recueillies tant des sainctes escriptures comme de toutes autres histoires (Lyon, 1564).
Barbara Diefendorf, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris (New York and Oxford, 1991); and idem, “Simon Vigor: A Radical Preacher in Sixteenth-Century Paris,” Sixteenth Century Journal 3 (1987): 399-410.
See Denis Crouzet, La sagesse et le malheur: Michel de l’Hospital chancelier de France (Seyssel, 1998); idem, “Michel de l’Hospital et l’idée de la paix,” in Krieg und Frieden im Ubergang vom Mittelalter zur Neuzeit: Theorie-Praxis-Bilder, ed. Heinz Durchardt and Patrice Veit (Mayence, 2000), 103-18; idem, “La foi, la politique, la parole: une problématique de l’Édit de janvier 1562,” in Axes et méthodes de la histoire politique, ed. Serge Bernstein and Pierre Milza (Paris, 1998), 13-40.
Denis Crouzet, La nuit de la Saint-Barthélemy: un rêve perdu de la Renaissance (Paris, 1994), and idem, “La nuit de la Saint-Barthélemy: Confirmations et compléments,” in Le second ordre: l’idéal nobiliaire; Hommage à Ellery Schalk, ed. Chantal Grell and Arnaud Ramière de Fortanier (Paris, 1999), 55-81.
Denis Crouzet, “L’intériorisation de la violence: l’example du XVIe siècle français de la Saint-Barthélemy aux prémices de la Ligue,” in La paix, ed. Pierre Chaunu (Paris, 1995), 157-71, and idem, “Le règne d’Henri III et la violence,” in Henri III et son temps: Colloque international du Centre de la Renaissance de Tours, oct. 1989, ed. R. Sauzet (Paris, 1992), 211-25.
See Denis Crouzet, “Henri IV, King of Reason?” in From Valois to Bourbon: Dynasty, State and Society in Early Modern France, ed. Keith Cameron (Exeter, 1989), 73-105.