Treaty of Nemours, 7 July 1585

The treaty of Nemours (7 July 1585) saw Henry III of France give in to pressure from the Catholic League and agree to attempt to eliminate Protestantism in France, turning a Catholic revolt against his authority into the Eighth War of Religion.

On 10 June 1584 Henry III’s brother and heir Francois, duc d’Anjou had died, leaving the protestant Henry of Navarre as his heir. This was unacceptable to many of the Catholic aristocracy, led by Henry, duke of Guise. Guise formed a new Catholic League, and gained the support of Philip II of Spain (Treaty of Joinville, 31 December 1584). The League raised its own army, and quickly gained control over much of northern and eastern France. Henry III briefly considered resisting this revolt, but this didn’t last for long.

Henry sent his mother Catherine de Medici to try and negotiate with Guise, but she had little influence on him. After she reported that Guise had 25,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry around Reims, Henry decided to give in. Catherine was given the authority to negotiate, and on 7 July 1585, at Nemours, the two sides came to terms.

Henry, duke of Guise, agreed that the Catholic League would end its revolt against Henry III and support his authority. In return Henry agreed to eliminate the Protestant religion from France. All Protestant ministers were given one month to leave France and worshipers were given six months to either leave or convert to Catholicism, on pain of death and forfeiture.

All concessions to the Huguenots were withdrawn, including the security cities they had been granted in earlier treaties and the complex legal arrangements that were meant to protect them against persecution. All offices and dignities were to be taken away from Protestants. All supporters of the Catholic League were forgiven for any offences they had committed during their brief revolt.

The treaty also included a number of secret clauses. Henry agreed to pay for the League army. He also gave Soissons to the Cardinal of Bourbon, Verdun, Toul, Saint Dizier and Chalons to Guise and Dijon and Beaune to Mayenne. These were officially to act as security cities, and were to be restored to the King in five years.

The treaty was agreed at Nemours on 7 July, and signed by the king and published at Paris on 18 July 1585.

The main result of this treaty was that the Catholic revolt against Henry’s authority turned into yet another in the long series of Religious wars that had divided France. Henry of Navarre and his Huguenot supporters refused to abandon their faith, and they were able to raise sizable armies, preventing the League from taking advantage of their early successes. The resulting conflicts lasted until 1598 (with the second half, after the death of Henry III and Henry of Navarre’s accession to the throne at Henry IV, generally called the Ninth War of Religion.

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 (23 January 2018), Treaty of Nemours, 7 July 1585 ,

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