How Important Were Religious Factors?
The Conflict of Opinion :
The weight of evidence is increasingly in favor of the view that the causes of the Huguenot movement were as much if not more political and economic than religious.
- James Westfall Thompson
If the self-interested defenders of the Roman Church - the Guises, supported by the mighty King of Spain - had not sworn to exterminate Protestantism, our country would have been spared this war and all its sorrowful consequences.
- Samuel Mours
While these shreds of evidence are not conclusive, and while there is nothing to tie these inciting activities directly to Geneva, it is clear that in some areas, Calvin's envoys were responsible for stimulating war fervor and even rioting on behalf of the common cause . . . By no means pacifist, he [Calvin] accepted and supported religious war in exceedingly realistic ways.
- Robert Kingdon
It cannot be denied that selfish passion and sometimes unrestrained greed persuaded many of the nobility and captains to join the Protestants. Study of the social background would reveal that the ruined heirs of feudal families merely awaited a chance to find a breach in the fortress of the royal power and to reconstitute their fortunes by any means they found at hand. The wealth of the Church . . . seemed a standing offense to this impoverished class.
- Lucien Romier
We have in the course of this narrative noted blunder after blunder in Catherine's [de Medici] policy, and these, coupled with her shortcomings of character and intellect, undoubtedly affected the nature and duration of France's thirty-odd years of disaster.
- Sir John Neale
There is a limit to a policy of compassion and to respect for the ideas and lives of individuals - the public good. Catherine de Medici had too good a head on her shoulders to forget it.
- Jean Héritier
The absurd conclusion that Paris and St. Bartholemew preserved national unity, that Charles IX and the Guises performed the role of the Convention of 1793, . . . is a bizarre and eccentric paradox, displaying partiality without sympathy, making a friend of our enemy, and utterly lacking in compassion for the slaughtered precursors of liberty.
- Jules Michelet
The associations of artisans dominated by the League and formed that alliance which always results from the link between the clergy and the lower classes in Catholic ocuntries - an alliance between the material force of labour and the persuasive influence of the Holy Gospel. The League had the effect of imprinting a stronger spirit of liberty upon the commune, and of awakening within it that ferment of popular independence which we have seen breaking forth in Paris in the barricades of 1588, in the organisation of the Sixteen, and in the sovereign alliance of cities with cities.
- J. B. H. Capefigue
If one wished to describe the character of the struggle of Paris against King Henry III and to define the spirit of the League, one would say that it was a . . . movement inspired by the Holy See, Spain, and the clergy, led by the Guises and using as its instrument the least enlightened part of the people of Paris.
- Paul Robiquet
The League was not just an alliance of fervent Catholics, nor was it merely an instrument at the disposal of the Guises. It was a rolling back of the processes of time, a return to the advantages of past conditions which the monarchy had opposed and then partially suppressed. In particular it was a return to the independent urban life of the city-states.
- Fernand Braudel
New social antagonisms arose and existing antipathies deepened. Religion might dress up these antagonisms in its own colours or strengthen them with fanaticism, but it was these class hatreds that served as the basis for local conflicts at the time of the [Catholic] League. The general crisis of the nobility during the Religious Wars is a recognised fact, but it is not always recognised that it is a fundamental fact from which many consequences follow.
- Henri Drouot
The Wars of Religion exacerbated or burst the abscesses of social discontent, but it is the ruin of all the old agricultural system, accompanied by the expropriation of the peasantry, that explains in part the popular disturbances of the seventeenth century.
- Georges Levet
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