Charles IX

Charles IX (* 27 June 1550; † 30 May 1574) was the fifth child and third son of Henri II and Caterina de' Medici.

Anonymous. Charles IX. Musée national du château Versailles. CC0

In 1560, his eldest brother François II died (Louis, his other older brother, had already died in 1550.) Under François II, the Guise family had influenced almost all political decisions. Before the looming conflict with the Huguenots, the Queen Mother wanted to establish a balance. She herself took over the regency for the minor Charles IX. Even after he was declared of age by Parliament three years later, Caterina de' Medici’s influence on politics remained palpable. In 1570 Charles IX married Elizabeth of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Maximilian II. The marriage produced a girl named Marie-Elisabeth, who, however, only lived to be six years old. (By his mistress Marie Touchet he had a son named Charles. A juicy detail: after the death of the king, Marie Touchet married François de Balzac, Seigneur d’Entragues, with whom she had two daughters. The younger, Catherine Henriette, was later to become a mistress of Henri IV). Charles IX was a fickle character, prone to outbursts of rage and lacking robust health. He probably gave his consent to the murder of the leading Huguenots in Paris on the evening of 23 August 1572.1 He was as surprised as everyone else by the dimensions that the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre took on. Since it would have been difficult for him to say: "The leading Catholics of my court were able to convince me to have the leaders of the Huguenots killed because we were all afraid they would kill us first, but then we lost control and no longer knew what to do," he had the massacre subsequently approved by an act of parliament. His health, which was already under attack, could not cope with the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. After his condition had worsened more and more, his death in 1574 was not unexpected.

Holt, Mack P. 1995. The French Wars of Religion, 1562 – 1629. New Approaches to European History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  1. Holt (1995)↩︎

Aktualisiert am 10.05.2024

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