Edict of Beaulieu, 5 May 1576

The Edict of Beaulieu (5 May 1576) ended the Fifth War of Religion and gave the Huguenots more religious rights than any of the treaties that had ended the first four wars.

By the start of 1576 the Huguenots had managed to unite most of their various armies in the vicinity of Paris. The force of around 30,000 men was commanded by King Henry III's brother Alençon, and included a large contingent from Germany under Duke Casimir and the Prince of Condé. The presence of this large hostile army near to the court helped convince Henry III and Catherine de Medici to begin serious peace negotiations, and after some strenuous negotiations the eventual terms were agreed. Most of the Huguenot's demands were met - the only major exceptions being a claim on part of the tithes paid to the Catholic Church and a demand that Casimir become Royal Governor of Metz, Toul and Verdun.

Under the terms of the Edict of Beaulieu the Huguenots were given freedom of worship throughout France. The only exceptions were Paris, the Royal court and the lands of any nobleman who objected. Henry III agreed to set up joint courts with equal members of Catholics and Protestants to try any cases involving the Huguenots, a move that also meant that Huguenots had to be allowed to become judges. Admiral Coligny, who had been murdered during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, was given a posthumous pardon. All of the actions of the Huguenot leaders were given official approval. Condé was made governor of Picardy, Casimir was given a large subsidy while Alençon was given Berry, Tourtaine, Anjou and an annual revenue of 100,000 gold crowns. The treaty was widely known as the Peace of Monsieur, this being the standard term used to address Royal Princes. The Huguenots were granted eight security towns in Languedoc, Guyenne, Dauphiné and Provence and finally the Estates General were to be called within six months.

The peace would be very short-lived. Many Catholics were appalled by the terms of the treaty, include ing Henry of Guise, who soon became the leader of the Catholic opposition, a move that would eventually turn the two-sided wars into three-sided ones. In the short term the peace didn't survive the year, and the Sixth War of Religion broke out towards the end of 1576.

The French Religious Wars 1562-1598, Robert Jean Knecht. A useful guide to the complex series of nine French Wars of Religion, including an examination of who the wars began and the main players on both sides, narrative accounts of the wars, overviews of the most important battles and sieges. Also looks at the impact of the wars on France’s neighbours, many of whom got dragged into the conflict, and on a selection of soldiers and civilians. Supported by a series of maps that help show how complex the conflict was
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 February 2011), Edict of Beaulieu, 5 May 1576 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/edict_beaulieu.html

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