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FrRevol_001-050.indd 26 3/16/12 1:01 PM CHAPTER II Considerations on the History ofFrance. Men are seldom familiar with any history but that of their own time; and in reading the declamations so frequent in our days, one would be led to think that the eight centuries ofmonarchical government which preceded the Revolution had been ages of tranquillity; and that the French nation had reposed during that time on a bed of roses. We forget the burning of the Knights Templars under Philip the Fair; the victories of the English under the kings of the Valois race; the civil war of La Jacquerie;1 the assassination of the Duke of Orleans/ and of the Duke of Burgundy;1 the treacherous cruelty of Louis XI; the condemnation of the French Protestants to frightful punishments under Francis I, at the very time, too, when he was in alliance with their brethren in Germany;4 the horrors of 1. Rural uprising in the regions of Island-of-France, Picardy, Champagne, Artois, and Normandy in May-June IJ)8. 2. The Duke of Orleans was assassinated in 1407 at the order ofthe Duke ofBurgundy, known as John the Fearless. 3. The Duke of Burgundy was assassinated in September 1419 at Montereau, where he was to attend a meeting with the dauphin (the future Charles VII). He first distinguished himselfin the battle at Nicopolis, where he led a French army that helped the besieged King of Hungary to battle the Turkish forces under Bajazet (the Thunderbolt). After he became duke, he clashed with his father's brothers, particularly Louis, Duke of Orleans. Tensions mounted between Burgundy and Orleans, and the Duke took the initiative and planned the assassination of Louis in 1407. 4ยท Francis I (1494-1547), crowned King of France in 1)1), distinguished himself as a devoted patron of the arts, although his reign was clouded by rifts and tensions within the Christian church. Martin Luther's denunciation of the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church in 1)19 triggered the Protestant movement. At first, Francis tolerated the new movement , since many German Protestant princes were turning against his sworn enemy, Charles V, but his later approval ofpersecutions against the Protestants led to thebeginning of a long civil war. FrRevol_001-050.indd 27 3/16/12 1:01 PM cHAPTER r r. History ofFrance the league, all surpassed by the massacre of St. Bartholomew;5 the conspiracies against Henri IV and his assassination, that frightful act of the league; the scaffolds raised by the arbitrary Richelieu; the military executions , long remembered under the name of dragonnades;6 the repeal of the Edict of Nantes; the expulsion of the Protestants, and the war of the Cevennes under Louis XIV;7 and, finally, the less terrific but not less important struggles of the parliaments under Louis XV. Troubles without end have arisen in France to obtain what was considered to be liberty, at different periods, whether feudal, religious, or representative; and, ifwe except the reigns ofthose kings who, like Francis I and, above all, Louis XIV, possessed the dangerous art ofoccupying the nation by war, we shall not find, in the space ofeight centuries, an interval of twenty-five years without a conflict of nobles against the sovereign, of peasants against nobles, of Protestants against Catholics, or, finally, of parliaments against the court-all struggles to escape from that arbitrary power which forms the most insupportable of burdens on a people. The civil commotions, as well as the violent measures adopted to stifle them, are an evidence that the French exerted themselves as much as the English to obtain that liberty confirmed by law, which alone can ensure to a people peace, emulation, and prosperity.8 ). The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre unleashed a wave of Catholic mob violence against the Huguenots. The violence started on August 24, I572, with the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the most respected Huguenot leader, and quickly spread throughout France, lasting for several months. 6. The dragonnades were a form of persecution ofFrench Protestants (Huguenots) before and after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 168). The Edict ofNantes ofI 598, promulgated by King Henri IV to restore internal peace in a France torn by the Wars of Religion, defined and secured the rights of the French Protestants. In r685 Louis XIV declared that the majority of Protestants had converted to Catholicism and annulled the edict of I 598, which, he claimed, had become...


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