Thursday, May 1, 2014

St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1836)

Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard: Scene in the Bedroom of 
Marguerite de Valois during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Marguerite de Valois was Queen of France and Navarre, wife of Henry III.  A major complication of their life was that she was Catholic, he Protestant. The fact that they lived during the period of the French Wars of Religion didn't help matters. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre was one of the significant events of the period - essentially, an anti-Protestant pogrom which may have been set in motion by the machinations of the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici.

Margaret has been credited with saving the lives of several prominent Protestants, including her husband's, during the massacre, by keeping them in her rooms and refusing to admit the assassins. Henry of Navarre had to feign conversion to Catholicism.

After more than three years of confinement at court, Henry escaped Paris in 1576, leaving his wife behind. Finally granted permission to return to her husband in Navarre, for the next three and a half years Margaret and her husband lived in Pau. Both openly kept other lovers, and they quarrelled frequently.

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