Catholic Compromise

Paris took centre stage in the religious wars between Roman Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants) in the 1560s. The Sorbonne, a stronghold of religious orthodoxy, advocated harsh measures to repress heresy. Many Parisians took up the battle cry with gruesome relish.

On August 23rd, 1572 (St Bartholomew's Day), 3,000 Huguenots were slaughtered in the city at the instigation of the Catholic Guise family. Catholics took the offensive again 16 years later, chasing Henry III out of Paris and forcing him to lay siege to his own city.

Throughout the conflict, Parisians mounted a defence against his eventual successor, Henry IV, a Huguenot. The city submitted to Henry IV only in 1594 following his conversion to Catholicism. "Paris," Henry is reputed to have said, "is well worth a mass!"

[Under Henry's rule, work was done on the Tuileries, the great gallery of the Louvre, the Hotel de Ville, the Pont Neuf and the Place Royale (now called Place des Vosges). Henry also oversaw the design of Paris's first geometric squares and the construction of mansions in the Marais district.]

[In 1610, Henry was murdered by a Catholic fanatic named Francois Ravaillac. By way of punishment, he was burnt with red-hot pincers and boiled in hot oil, before being quartered (having his arms and legs attached to horses moving in different directions).]

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