Timeline of the Reformation in France

Psalterium quintuplex…

1509

Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples publishes his translation of the Psalter in multiple languages, including French.

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Birth of Artus Désiré

1510

Artus Désiré is assumed to have been born sometime around 1510.

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Stultitiae Laus

1511

Erasmus publishes his Praise of Folly in Latin in Paris.

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François I

January 1, 1515

François d’Orléans, count of Angoulême and duke of Valois, succeeds his childless cousin, Louis XII, as king of France. His reign is marked by the emergence of Renaissance humanism in France and a complicated relationship with the Protestant Reformation.

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Ninety-five Theses

October 31, 1517

Martin Luther publishes his 95 Theses.

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Éloge de la Folie

1520

Erasmus’ Praise of Folly is published in French.

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Cénacle de Meaux

1521

Guillaume Briçonnet, the Catholic bishop of Meaux, founds the Cénacle de Meaux – an important group of early French Reformers that included Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples, Guillaume Farel, and Marguerite de Navarre (the sister of King François I).

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Le Nouveau Testament

1523

Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples completes his French translation of the New Testament.

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L’Ancien Testament

1528

Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples completes his French translation of the Old Testament.

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La Bible d’Anvers

1530

Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples publishes the first complete French translation of the Bible. His translation is based on the Latin Vulgate.

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Collège de France

1530

At the urging of the French humanist Guillaume Budé, François I establishes the Collège de France as an alternative to the Sorbonne. The college is specifically established to teach humanistic disciplines like Hebrew, Greek, and mathematics.

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L’Affaire des placards

October 17, 1534

During the night, anti-Catholic placards were posted throughout France. This brought an end to the tolerance that King François I had shown toward the Reform movement, ushering in a period of official persecution.

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La Bible d’Olivétan

1535

Pierre Robert Olivétan, a cousin of Calvin, publishes the first complete French translation of the Bible based on original Hebrew and Greek sources rather than the Vulgate.

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Institutio Christianae Religionis

1536

Calvin publishes his Institutes of the Christian Religion in Latin, followed in 1541 by a French translation.

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Calvin and Farel flee Geneva

April 20, 1538

Following a series of disagreements with the Geneva city council over the right to refuse communion to individuals “they regarded as upsetting the unity of the Church,” Calvin and Farel left Geneva (Bruce Gordon, Calvin 79). They unsuccessfully pled their case in Zurich, where Calvin was labeled the primary instigator of…

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Genevan Psalter

1539

The publication of the first partial edition of the metrical French translation of the Psalms. This edition contained 18 Psalms, 12 translated by Clément Marot and 6 by Calvin.

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L’Institution de la religion chrétienne

1541

Calvin publishes the first French translation of his major theological work, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

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Calvin Returns to Geneva

September 13, 1541

John Calvin returns to Geneva and officially assumes the role of the city’s spiritual leader. In this capacity, he establishes the independent Republic of Geneva.

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Henri II

March 31, 1547

Henri II ascends to the throne after the death of his father, François I. Henri’s wife is Catherine de’ Medici, issue of the Florentine rulers and niece of Pope Leo X.

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Loyauté conscientieuse de taverniers

1550

Artus Désiré

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Les Combatz du fidelle papiste pelerin romain, contre l’apostat priapiste, tirant à la synagogue de Geneve, maison babilonique des Lutheriens.

1550

Artus Désiré

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Le Deffensoire de la foi chrestienne

1552

Artus Désiré

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Execution of Michael Servetus

October 27, 1553

The Spanish humanist theologian Michael Servetus is executed in Calvin’s Geneva for heresy. He had fled to Geneva after being condemned by the Catholic Church for the same offense.

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Les Combats du fidele chrestien, dit papiste, contre l’infidele apostat antipapiste.

1555

Artus Désiré

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Paris Synod

May 27, 1559

The Paris Synod, composed of representatives of 72 churches, organizes French Reformed Churches according to Calvin’s recommendations.

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François II

July 10, 1559

Fifteen-year-old François II ascends to the throne following the unexpected death of his father, Henri II. Members of the Guise family, leaders of the orthodox Catholic faction and uncles of the young king’s wife, serve as regents.

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Conjuration d’Amboise

March 17, 1560

A group of Huguenots storm the castle at Amboise in an attempt to abduct François II and arrest the Guise. The Huguenots were defeated and gruesomely executed. Their corpses were then hung on the facade of the castle.

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Charles IX

December 5, 1560

Following the death of his brother, François II, ten-year-old Charles IX ascends the throne. His mother, Catherine de’ Medici, serves as regent.

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Colloque de Poissy

September 9, 1561

In the name of her son, Charles IX, Catherine de’ Medici convenes a colloquy with the goal of effecting a reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. Théodore de Bèze leads the Protestant delegation. The Catholic delegation includes a papal legate, six French Cardinals, and a number of French bishops. After a…

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Artus Désiré arrested

1561

Artus Désiré is arrested en route to Spain to enlist the help of the Spanish king against an increasingly tolerant Charles IX and Catherine de’ Medici. Tried and convicted, his sentence is surprisingly light: five years house arrest in a monastery, of which he only serves about seven months.

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Genevan Psalter

1562

The complete Genevan Psalter is published. The work was begun in the mid-1530s by Clément Marot and Calvin, but eventually completed by Théodore de Bèze.

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Massacre de Vassy & the First War of Religion

March 1, 1562

A skirmish between the Duke of Guise’s company and a congregation of Protestants worshipping in a barn outside the town of Wassy ends in slaughter after the duke orders his men to set fire to the barn. Some 63 Protestants are killed. This marks the beginning of the First War…

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Le grand et admirable signe de Dieu apparu au ciel

1563

Artus Désiré

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L’Édit d’Amboise

March 19, 1563

The Edict of Amboise, or Edict of Pacification, is signed at the castle by Catherine de’ Medici acting as regent for her son, Charles IX. The edict afforded a degree of religious liberty to Protestants and ended the First War of Religion.

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Death of Calvin

May 27, 1564

John Calvin dies in Geneva at the age of 54. He is succeeded as the head of French Protestantism by Théodore de Bèze.

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Surprise de Meaux & the Second War of Religion

September 28, 1567

A failed Huguenot plot to capture the French royal family leads to the outbreak of the Second War of Religion (1567-1568).

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Paix de Longjumeau

March 23, 1568

Charles IX and Catherine de’ Medici sign the Treaty of Longjumeau, reaffirming the Edict of Amboise and ending the Second War of Religion.

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Third War of Religion

July 29, 1568

Catholic forces attempt to capture Admiral Coligny, the military leader of the Protestant faction, at the château of Tanlay. This reignites tensions between the two factions, leading to the outbreak of the Third War of Religion (1568-1570).

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Paix de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

August 8, 1570

Treaty signed by Charles IX and Coligny ending the Third War of Religion.

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Massacre de la Saint-Barthélémy & the Fourth War of Religion

August 23, 1572

Amid the celebrations of the wedding of Protestant Henri de Navarre and the Catholic French princess Marguerite de Valois, an assassination attempt is carried out against the admiral Gaspard de Coligny, military leader of the Protestants and advisor to Charles IX. Traditionally the orders are assumed to have been given…

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Paix de la Rochelle

July 11, 1573

Charles IX works toward ending the Fourth War of Religion by reaffirming the Edict of Amboise.

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Conjuration des Malcontents & the Fifth War of Religion

February 27, 1574

A failed plot to free Henri de Navarre and François d’Alençon from the court and wrest power from Catherine de’ Medici, who had been ruling during Charles IX’s illness. It led to the outbreak of the Fifth War of Religion.

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Henri III

May 30, 1574

Henri III ascends to the throne following the death of his brother, Charles IX. Henri favored a political resolution to the religious conflict, which ignited the ire of extremists among the Catholic faction.

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L’Édit de Beaulieu

May 6, 1576

The treaty signed by Henri III ending the Fifth War of Religion and affording greater religions liberty to Protestants.

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The Sixth War of Religion

1577

Catholics unhappy with the terms of the Edict of Beaulieu begin forming local “ligues” and preparing for war in early 1577. War again breaks out in May.

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Paix de Bergerac

September 17, 1577

Henri III signs a treaty with the Protestants to end hostilities. It is affirmed a week later in the Edict of Poitiers, which modifies some of the rights granted to Reformed churches in the Edict of Beaulieu.

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Les grans abus et barbouilleries des taverniers et tavernieres, qui meslent et brouillent le vin.

1578

Artus Désiré

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Death of Artus Désiré

1579

Désiré is assumed to have died sometime around 1579.

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Traité de Nérac

February 28, 1579

Signed by Catherine de’ Medici in the name of her son, Henri III, this treaty confirms the Edict of Poitiers and accords the Protestants 14 additional strongholds for a period of six months.

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The Seventh War of Religion

1579

The Protestants refuse to surrender the strongholds temporarily given to them in the Treaty of Nérac, leading to renewed hostilities.

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Paix de Fleix

November 26, 1580

Treaty signed by the king’s brother, François d’Alençon, and Henri de Navarre to end the Seventh War of Religion. It accords 15 strongholds to the Protestants for a period of six years.

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Death of François d’Alençon

June 10, 1584

François d’Alençon, the younger brother of King Henri III and presumed heir to the childless monarch, dies of tuberculosis.

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Batailles et victoires du Chevalier Celeste, contre le Chevalier Terrestre: l’un tirant à la maison de Dieu, & l’autre à la maison du prince du monde, chef de l’Eglise maligne.

1585

Artus Désiré

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L’Édit de Nemours

July 7, 1585

Following the death of the king’s younger brother in 1584, it became clear that, according to custom, the French crown would pass to the Protestant Henri de Navarre, he being the next senior agnatic descendent of Louis IX. Henri III, probably influenced by his lover Anne de Joyeuse and under…

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The Eighth War of Religion: la guerre des Trois Henri

1587

The Eighth War of Religion, which will continue in some form until the 1598 Edict of Nantes, begins in the summer of 1587 with mounting tensions over questions of succession and intervention in similar conflicts in England and the Netherlands. War resumes in France between three factions, each led by…

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The Assassination of Henri, duke of Guise

December 23, 1588

Henri, duke of Guise is assassinated on the order of Henri III. The duke had himself been planning the assassination of the king.

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Reconciliation of Henri III & Henri de Navarre

1589

Following the assassination of Guise, Henri III loses all support from the Ligue. So he turns to his brother-in-law, Henri de Navarre, for support. They reconcile in early 1589 and Henri III recognizes Henri de Navarre as his heir.

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Assassination of Henri III

August 1, 1589

Henri III is assassinated by a Catholic fanatic. Having no children, he had recognized the claim of his brother-in-law, Henri de Navarre, to the French throne prior to his death. According to legend, as he lay dying, he admonished his troops to support Henri de Navarre.

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Henri IV crowned

February 27, 1594

After years of warfare and political dispute, Henri de Navarre’s campaign to conquer his kingdom reaches a crucial milestone as he is crowned and consecrated King Henri IV of France in Chartres cathedral. The pope recognizes his legitimate succession in December of 1595.

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L’Édit de Nantes

April 30, 1598

King Henri IV signs the Edict of Nantes, guaranteeing greater religious freedom and civil rights to the Protestant minority of France, and effectively bringing an end to the Wars of Religion.

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