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The History of the Church 196 The Siege of La Rochelle The ambiguity of the situation created by the Edict of Nantes came to a head 30 years later at La Rochelle, a stronghold of the Huguenots off the Bay of Biscay. In 1622, the city practically seceded from France, calling the English to its aid, which prompted the royal government to lay siege to it. In fact, a double siege was underway; while the Protestants were besieged in their city of La Rochelle, a Catholic contingent in the nearby isle of Ré experienced the same treatment (including famine) from the English in the fort of Saint-Martin. In 1627, the Duke of Buckingham, the favorite of the king of England, blockaded the fort when he landed on the island of Ré, seeking a base from which to support the people of La Rochelle. Three swimmers volunteered to cross the strait between Ré and La Rochelle in order to alert the French royal troops. Only one succeeded. At the outset of the siege of La Rochelle, a French royal fleet was able to break the blockade at Saint-Martin, replenishing its supplies. Richelieu, who did not want the English to imitate the maneuver he had just executed, ordered a seawall raised in front of the port of La Rochelle, impeding any aid from reaching the city by sea. When La Rochelle finally surrendered, after 14 months of siege, there were only 5,000 left of the original population of 27,000. This marked the end of Protestant garrisons in France. With the Edict of Alès, Louis XIII withdrew this military concession, while reaffirmin religious tolerance. Thenceforth, Protestants would no longer pose a threat to the kingdom. Le Lorrain (alias, Claude Gellée) (1600–1682) Louis XIII at the Siege of La Rochelle Musée du Louvre, Paris ...


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