The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629 / Edition 2by Mack P. Holt
Pub. Date: 10/31/2005
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
This book is a new edition of Mack P. Holt's classic study of the French religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing on the scholarship of social and cultural historians of the Reformation, it shows how religion infused both politics and the socio-economic tensions of the period to produce a long extended civil war. Professor Holt integrates… See more details below
This book is a new edition of Mack P. Holt's classic study of the French religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing on the scholarship of social and cultural historians of the Reformation, it shows how religion infused both politics and the socio-economic tensions of the period to produce a long extended civil war. Professor Holt integrates court politics and the political theory of the elites with the religious experiences of the popular classes, offering a fresh perspective on the wars and on why the French were willing to kill their neighbors in the name of religion.
Table of ContentsIntroduction; Chronological table of events; 1. Prologue: Gallicanism and reform in the sixteenth century; 2. 'The beginning of a tragedy': the early wars of religion, 1562–70; 3. Popular disorder and religious tensions: the making of a massacre, 1570–4; 4. The rhetoric of resistance: the unmaking of the body politic, 1574–84; 5. Godly warriors: the crisis of the league, 1584–93; 6. Henry IV and the edict of Nantes: the remaking of Gallicanism; 7. Epilogue: the last war of religion, 1610–29; 8. Conclusions: economic impact, social change and absolutism; Short biographies; Genealogical charts; Suggestions for further reading.
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First, let me say that I truly love the book and the massive amount of detailed information presented. Second, let me say it is certainly one of the more difficult books to read and is more like a post-graduate dissertation with accompanying arguments rather than a book. Thirdly, it has got to be the home of the longest continuous sentences in any book I've ever read. I am not sure that I have ever read a book with sentences that cover 5 and six printed lines. Nor have I before read sentences that contain independent clauses, dependent clauses, and parenthetical phrases all within one sentence. There is no doubt that it is well researched and seems original in the presentation of the information. It appears imbalanced to me in that the Guises get their traditional kick from the author and the French are portrayed as being pig-headed in their response to what amounted to an invasion of their country, their home. It seemed a lot like blaming the rape victim for resisting the assailant. Imagine for a moment or so what your feelings would be if someone came into your church tomorrow and started destroying the things you believed in. How would you react? If someone cursed and reviled your family and friends as they practiced their faith, would you be a little upset? A lot maybe? France had a traditional history of involvement with the Catholic Church and the monarchy from at least the time of Charlemagne was closely connected. The book left me with several important questions: (1) who were the named instigators of the kinds of acts guaranteed to cause an equal and opposite reaction? Who were the named mob leaders and organnizers and how did they stand to profit? I get the impression that a lot of personal greed and ambition were behind the mob leaders stated goals and motives. Professor Davis comes closer when she talks about the "rites of violence" as does Barbara Dieendorf when she discusses the "transformation of private anger into public duty." Both are quoted in this book. What is important is that any good street cop engaed in riot control or mob control duties could point out some of the points after assembly that leads to violent acting out. Mob leaders have to be isolated and removed from the crowd to regain any sense of reason with the perpetrators of mob violence. A mob offers a degree of anonymity and if mob members perceive that the "authority" condones the action it becomes easiers for the mob member to justify his behavior even when violating his personal morals and values. It becomes a justification for atrocious behavior to include murder. Any true history buff will love this book and hopefully the good professor will do a third edition soon. I would purchase it for the information it contains. I would caution others that unless you are familiar with sentence construction and if you do not mind reading the never ending sentence, then this book may be for you as well. Reading it is work but sell satisfying work for those truly interested in the period.