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French Wars of Religion (1562–98)

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French Wars of Religion

The French Wars of Religion (1562–98) is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise (Lorraine), and both sides received assistance from foreign sources.

The exact number of wars and their respective dates are the subject of continued debate by historians; some assert that the Edict of Nantes in 1598 concludes the wars, although a resurgence of rebellious activity following this leads some to believe the Peace of Alais in 1629 is the actual conclusion. However, the Massacre of Vassy in 1562 is agreed to begin the Wars of Religion and the Edict of Nantes at least ended this series of conflicts. During this time, complex diplomatic negotiations and agreements of peace were followed by renewed conflict and power struggles.

At the conclusion of the conflict in 1598, Huguenots were granted substantial rights and freedoms by the Edict of Nantes, though it did not end hostility towards them. The wars weakened the authority of the monarchy, already fragile under the rule of Francis II and then Charles IX, though it later reaffirmed its role under Henry IV.