The Tudor Society

February 18 – An assassin fatally injures the Duke of Guise

Francis, Duke of Guise, from the workshop of François Clouet

On this day in Tudor history, 18th February 1563, a Huguenot assassin shot Francis, Duke of Guise, at Orléans in France. The duke died six days later.

The Catholic Guise was a prominent leader during the French Wars of Religion, and there had been attempts on his life previously. Guise was wounded by Huguenot, Jean de Poltrot de Méré, at the Siege of Orléans, and it is thought that the treatment he received from his physicians, bloodletting, contributed to his death.

Guise’s son blamed Gaspard de Coligny, the Huguenot leader, for his father’s death and on 22nd August 1572 an attempt was made on Coligny’s life. He survived the shooting, though.

It’s not clear who hired the shooter, possible the Guises, but the Catholics, fearing a Huguenot retaliation, decided to go on the offensive and attack the Huguenot leaders. This attack took place in Paris on 24th August 1572 on the Feast of St Bartholomew. Coligny was stabbed to death by a servant of the Duke of Guise and more violence against the Huguenots followed. It became known as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, but it carried on for three days in Paris and then spread to other cities and towns. Thousands were killed.

Here's my video on the massacre:

Trivia: Sir Francis Walsingham, his pregnant wife and daughter, and poet Sir Philip Sidney, were in Walsingham’s house in the Huguenot suburb of Saint-Marceau at the time of the massacre, so a scary time for them. Elizabeth I was outraged by the murder of innocent men, women and children.

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Image: Francis, Duke of Guise, from the workshop of François Clouet.

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