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The Tudor Society

15 September – Elizabeth I saves the day!

On this day in Tudor history, 15th September 1589, the Battle of Arques began.

This battle was part of the final war of the French Wars of Religion, a series of conflicts in France from 1562-1598 between Catholics and Huguenots. It was fought between the new French king, Henry IV, and the Catholic League led by Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne, and looked bad for Henry until troops sent by Elizabeth I arrived - phew!

You can find out more about what led to this battle, what happened at the battle, and what happened next, in this talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 15th September 1500, John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, cardinal and Henry VII’s Lord Chancellor, died at Knole in Kent. He was not a very popular man with the English people due to his role in Henry VII's financial policies, and one tax rationale he's associated with is Morton's Fork, but was it really down to him? Find out the answer and find out more about this Tudor taxman in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1514 – Thomas Wolsey was appointed Archbishop of York after having been elected in the August. He had already been appointed Bishop of Lincoln in February of that year, and in 1515 he would be elevated to the office of Cardinal.
  • 1556 – Charles V departed from Vlissingen in Zeeland bound for Spain following his voluntary abdication of his titles in October 1555. He spent his retirement in the monastery of Yuste in Extremadura.
  • 1564 – The final day of Mary, Queen of Scots' fourth progress. The progress had begun on 22nd July 1564, and had included stops at Edinburgh, Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, Kincardine Castle, Perth, Blair Atholl, Glen Tilt, Inverness, Beauly Priory, Redcastle, Dingwall, Gartly Castle, Aberdeen, Dunnotar Castle, Dundee and St Andrews.
  • 1613 – Death of poet and essayist Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower of London from alleged poisoning.

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, 15th September 1589, the Battle of Arques began.

This battle was part of the final war of the French Wars of Religion, a series of conflicts in France from 1562-1598 between Catholics and Huguenots, French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin. The massacre of Vassy in 1562 is seen as the start of the Wars, and it was when Huguenot worshippers and citizens of Wassy in north-eastern France were massacred by the forces of Francis, Duke of Guise. This caused outbreaks of further violence and then proper war. Although there were attempts at compromise and peace, in 1563, 68 and 70, the atrocity of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572 saw the war starting up once again.

The wars can be split into seven stages, or seven wars, plus the War of the Three Henrys, which was fought between King Henry III of France, the Catholic Henry I of Lorraine, 3rd Duke of Guise, and the Huguenot Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre. Henry III was assassinated in August 1589, leaving the throne to Henry of Navarre who became Henry IV of France. Although he stated that he was happy to support Catholicism in France, the Catholic League led by Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne, opposed him and the two sides met in battle at Arques on 15th September 1589.

It was a bloody battle, and it was not looking good for the French king until he was rescued by troops sent by Elizabeth I. On the 23rd September, around 4,000 soldiers led by Welshman Roger Williams arrived from England to reinforce the Henry's troops. Seeing these troops arrive, the Duke of Mayenne had no choice but to retreat, conceding the victory to Henry IV.

And yet the wars rumbled on. Henry IV eventually formally converted to Catholicism in July 1593, which, as the Encyclopaedia Britannica points out, “removed all legitimate pretext for resistance”, and led to important towns in France submitting to him and accepting him as king. He was crowned king at Chartres in February 1594, Paris submitted to him the following month, and then, in 1595, Pope Clement VIII lifted his excommunication. In April 1598, Henry signed the Edict of Nantes, which restored Catholicism in areas where its practice had been ceased, but also gave Huguenots freedom to worship and civil rights. This attempt at religious tolerance brought the French Wars of Religion to an end, although not everyone was happy with it.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. R /

    The Edict of Nantes was a brave move to attempt to introduce religious tolerance and treatment of Protestant and Catholics as equals. It was a remarkable Act and the man who had almost been murdered before converting to save his life. His Edict was born from a hope to prevent the massacre of Saint Bartholomew and it was in effect until the 1670s when it was abolished by King Louis xiv because he felt that the Protestants at his Court were plotting with the Dutch, with whom France was at war, and he was probably correct. For the time it was in place, however, almost 100 years, it set the benchmark for the potential for religious tolerance on a long-term scale.

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15 September – Elizabeth I saves the day!