Christian Europe—Early Modern France

1560 to 1715
Amboise Conspiracy to Spanish Succession Wars

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Characters—Early Modern France

Character/Date Short Biography

The Three Henries

Henry III
Fourth son of Henry II and Catherin de Medici. Quarreled with Henry of Guise, and took the side of Protestant Henry Navarre during "War of the Three Henrys".
Henry IV
Protestant King of Navarre who ascended to the throne of France after converting to Catholicism. As king issued 'Edict of Nantes' decreeing religious toleration of Huguenots.
Henry of Guise
Founded the Catholic League to block the throne from Huguenot Henry Navarre. Quarreled with Henry III.

Kings of France and England

Louis XIII
Reigned for 33 years, but early reign was dominated by Italian 'favorites' of his mother Maria de Medici, and late reign was dominated by Cardinal Richelieu.
Louis XIV
French King who expanded the borders of France, and lived in great pomp and splendor.

Queens and Mistresses

Maria de Medici
Queen of Henry IV, and regent following his assassination.
Madame de Montespan
Notorious mistress of Louis XIV who held great power at court. Brought down by "Affair of the Poisons" with accusations of witchcraft, black magic, and murder.
Madame de Maintenon
Noblewoman who served as a governess, advisor, and companion of Louis XIV. Married privately after the death of his first wife.


Duke of Sully
Chief advisor and principle minister to Henry IV. Capably handled the nation's finances, and encouraged agriculture, trade, and building of highways and fortifications.
Cardinal Richelieu
Very influential Minister of Louis XIII. Consolidated royal power and crushed dissenters.
Cardinal Mazarin
Minister of France during the early reign of Louis the XIV. Followed the polices of Richelieu. War of the Fronde fought to oppose his administration.
As minister of Finance, improved France's economy under the extravagant Louis XIV.

Martial Heroes

Prince of Conde
Renowned Marshal of France during the age of Louis XVI. Fought in numerous wars including Fronde, thirty years, and Franco-Dutch.
Comte de Tourville
Naval Commander during War of the Grand Alliance. Defeated British at Barfleur.
Vicomte de Turenne
One of the greatest Marshall's of France. Served Louis XIII and XIV, in Thirty Years War, Fronde, and Dutch Wars.

Other Influential Persons

Vincent de Paul
Parish priest who devoted life to helping the poor. Established home for foundlings.
Samuel de Champlain
Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and great lake region. Father of 'New France.'

Timeline—Early Modern France

AD YearEvent

French Wars of Religion (Really about power, Religion was a Stalking Horse)

1559 Francis II ascends to throne; Duke of Guise, uncle of Mary Queen of Scots, is regent.
1560 Amboise Conspiracy: Plot to kidnap king, murder Duke of Guise thwarted.
1560-74 Charles IX ascends to throne on death of Francis II. Catherine de Medici is regent.
1562 Massacre of Vassy, first major conflict in the French Wars of Religion.
1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots following wedding of Henry of Navarre.
1574-89 Henry III ascends to the throne on death of Charles IX.
1578 War of Three Henrys: Henry of Guise forms "Catholic League" to prevent Huguenot from ascending to the throne.
1588 Henry Guise murdered by agents of Catherine de Medici and Henry III
1589 Henry III murdered by an agents of the Catholic league.

Reign of Henry IV

1589 Henry IV becomes 1st Bourbon King, but is not accepted by many cities, including Paris.
1560 Henry IV besieges Paris, attempts to assume the throne but is denied entry.
1593 Henry IV converts to the Catholic Religion.
1598 Henry IV issues Edict of Nantes to end persecution of Huguenots and Religious Wars.
1600 Henry IV marries Maria de Medici, has six children in ten years.
1608 Samuel de Champlain founds the city of Quebec, establishes colony of New France.
1610 Henry IV assassinated by Catholic fanatic. Queen Mother, Maria de Medici regent for Louis XIII.
1617 Louis XIII exiles his mother and her "favorites" and takes control of the government.

Richelieu and Mazarin: 1624 to 1661

1624-42 Cardinal Richelieu serves as chief minister of the state. Persecutes Huguenots in France, but funds Protestant enemies of the Hapsburgs abroad.
1643 Five-year-old Louis XIV succeeds to throne with Jules Cardinal Mazarin as regent.
1648 Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years' War. France annexes eastern territories.
1648-59 Wars of the Fronde: Last effort of nobles to reduce the power of the French king.
1648 Cardinal Mazarin ordered the arrest of the leaders of the parliament of Paris, provoking widespread rioting.
1659 France ends war with Spain, annexes northern Catalonia and French Flanders.

Age of Louis XIV: 1661 to 1715

1661 Louis XIV assumes personal rule at age 23 after the Death of Mazarin.
1668 War of Devolution. France obtains Lille and other territories of Flanders from Spain.
1678 Franco-Dutch war. France obtains the Franche-Comte and cities in Flanders.
1678 Louis XIV begins large scale remodel of the palace of Versailles.
1684 War of the Reunions. France obtains territories in the north-west from Spain.
1682 Explorer Rene La Salle claims the Mississippi valley for France.
1685 Edict of Fontainebleau. Louis XIV revokes Edict of Nantes, removing the religious liberties of Huguenots.
1697 War of the Grand Alliance ends with French losses. Some territories returned to Hapsburg powers.
1701-14 War of the Spanish Succession
1715 Treaty of Utrecht: Bourbon Philip V assumes throne of Spain, renounces rights to French throne.
1715 Louis XIV is succeeded by five-year-old great-grandson Louis XV.

Recommended Reading—Early Modern France

Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Core Reading Assignments

Guerber - The Story of Old France   A Young King and Queen to The Age of Louis XIV (26)
Marshall - A History of France   The Riot of Amboise to War of Spanish Succession (14)

Supplemental Recommendations

Macgregor - The Story of France   The Prince of Conde Killed to Louis XIV and the Huguenots (13)
Morris - Historical Tales: French   St. Bartholomew's Day to The Man with the Iron Mask (7)
Abbott - Henry IV of France    entire book
Abbott - Louis XIV    entire book
Forbes - Life of St. Vincent de Paul    entire book

Easy Reading Selections

Finnemore - France: Peeps at History   House of Valois (cont.) to House of Bourbon (cont.) (3)
Haaren - Famous Men of Modern Times   Henry of Navarre (1)
Haaren - Famous Men of Modern Times   Cardinal Richelieu to Louis XIV (2)