Catherine de' Medici And The Civil Wars

Catherine de' Medici's plan was to govern mainly through the Constable and the Admiral Coligny, with Antoine of Navarre simply a nominal authority. On the evening of April 6, 1561, the Constable Anne de Montmorency, the Duke of Guise, and the Marshal of St. André formed the Triumvirate, an anti-Protestant association. Thus, the Triumvirate thwarted Catherine's plan of governance. Even more now, Catherine de' Medici had to act with caution, out of her fear of antagonizing the Guises, who realized the political blow they suffered due to the death of Francis II.

The Civil Wars

The massacre of Vassy on March 1, 1562 marked the beginning of the Civil Wars. Catherine de' Medici feared that the Guises, very popular among the people of Paris, might seize the King, and took Charles to Blois. On April 12, 1562, at Orléans, the Prince of Condé formally assumed command of the Huguenot forces, his chief lieutenants being Coligny and D'Andelot. Facing the Huguenot menace, Catherine had nowhere to turn but to the Triumvirate. Not long before, Catherine was against any Spanish interference, but the alliance between the Prince of Condé and the English made her to think of Spanish assistance.

Catherine de' Medici was concerned that the Council of Trent, by strengthening the papal authority, might endanger the liberty of the French church and the royal rights, as established by the Concordat of Bologna in 1516. The chief representative of France at Trent was the cardinal of Lorraine, who was opposing the policy of Charles IX, thus Catherine's, and his presence at Trent became a serious problem for France. With a smart move, Catherine de' Medici send him to Vienna and Venice, leaving the Sieur de Lansac as the representative of France at Trent.

The war with England

Catherine de' Medici was determined to retake Le Havre from the English. To accomplish this, the Civil War had to end, and on 19 March 1563, the Edict of Amboise established the peace, and as Catherine wanted, Huguenots and Catholics will fight together against the English.

On May 22 the French assault upon Le Havre began. Catherine de' Medici insisted on being present at all the assaults, even in the trenches, where cannon balls and arquebus bullets were flying, and her cold blood astonished everyone. Le Havre surrendered on 28 July 1563.

In pushing the war against England, and imposing the peace of Amboise, Catherine de' Medici had now the supreme power. Her policy of playing the adverse parties against each other, while she was maintaining the balance of power, was successful, and there was no other person who could challenge her.

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