French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion were a prolonged period of war and popular unrest between Roman Catholics and Huguenots in the Kingdom of France between 1562 and 1598. It is estimated that three million people perished in this period from violence, famine, or disease in what is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history. Much of the conflict took place during the long regency of Queen Catherine de' Medici, widow of Henry II of France, for her minor sons, it involved a dynastic power struggle between powerful noble families in the line for succession to the French throne: the wealthy and fervently Roman Catholic ducal House of Guise and their ally Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France versus the less wealthy House of Condé, princes of the blood in the line of succession to the throne who were sympathetic to Calvinism. Foreign allies provided financing and other assistance to both sides, with Habsburg Spain and the Duchy of Savoy supporting the Guises, England supporting the Protestant side led by the Condés and by the Protestant Jeanne d'Albret, wife of Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, her son, Henry of Navarre.
Moderates associated with the French Valois monarchy and its advisers, tried to balance the situation and avoid open bloodshed. This group put their hopes in the ability of a strong centralized government to maintain order and harmony. In contrast to the previous hardline policies of Henri II and his father Francis I, they began introducing gradual concessions to Huguenots. A most notable moderate, at least was the queen mother, Catherine de' Medici. Catherine, however hardened her stance and, at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572, sided with the Guises; this pivotal historical event involved a complete breakdown of state control resulting in series of riots and massacres in which Catholic mobs killed between 5,000 and 30,000 Protestants over a period of weeks throughout the entire kingdom. At the conclusion of the conflict in 1598, the Protestant Henry of Navarre, heir to the French throne, converted to Catholicism and was crowned Henry IV of France, he issued the Edict of Nantes, which granted Huguenots substantial rights and freedoms though this did not end Catholic hostility towards them or towards him, personally.
The wars of religion threatened the authority of the monarchy fragile under the rule of Catherine's three sons and the last Valois kings: Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III. This changed under the reign of their Bourbon successor Henry IV; the edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685 with the Edict of Fontainebleau by Louis XIV of France. Henry IV's wise governance and selection of able administrators did leave a legacy of a strong centralized government and economic prosperity that has gained him the reputation as France's best and most beloved monarch, earning him the designation "Good King Henry". Along with French Wars of Religion and Huguenot Wars, the wars have been variously described as the "Eight Wars of Religion", or the "Wars of Religion"; the exact number of wars and their respective dates are subject to continued debate by historians: some assert that the Edict of Nantes in 1598 concluded the wars, while the ensuing resurgence of rebellious activity leads some to believe the Peace of Alès in 1629 is the actual conclusion.
However, the agreed upon beginning of the wars is the Massacre of Wassy in 1562, the Edict of Nantes at least ended this series of conflicts. During this time, complex diplomatic negotiations and agreements of peace were followed by renewed conflict and power struggles. Humanism, which began much earlier in Italy, arrived in France in the early sixteenth century, coinciding with the beginning of the French Protestant Reformation; the Italian revival of art and classical learning interested Francis I, who established royal professorships in Paris, equipping more people with the knowledge necessary to understand ancient literature. Francis I, had no quarrel with the established religious order and did not support reformation. Indeed, Pope Leo X, through the Concordat of Bologna increased the king's control over the French church, granting him the power of nominating the clergy and levying taxes on church property. In France, unlike in Germany, the nobles supported the policies and the status quo of their time.
The emphasis of Renaissance Humanism on ad fontes, the return to the sources, had spread from the study and reconstruction of secular Greek and Latin texts, with a view to artistic and linguistic renewal, to the reading and translation of the Church Fathers and the New Testament itself, with a view to religious renewal and reform. Humanist scholars, who approached theology from a new critical and comparative perspective, argued that exegesis of Scripture must be based on an accurate understanding of the language and grammar used in writing the Greek scriptures and later, the Hebrew Scriptures, rather than relying on the Vulgate - a Latin translation of the Bible, as in the Medieval period. In 1495 the Venetian Aldus Manutius began using the newly invented printing press to produce small, pocket editions of Greek and vernacular literature, making knowledge in all disciplines available for the first time to a wide public. Printing in mass editions allowed theological and religious ideas to be disseminated at an u
Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names; the modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a large and powerful military. Most European nations copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and transfer to the reserve force. Conscription is controversial for a range of reasons, including conscientious objection to military engagements on religious or philosophical grounds; those conscripted may evade service, sometimes by leaving the country, seeking asylum in another country. Some selection systems accommodate these attitudes by providing alternative service outside combat-operations roles or outside the military, such as Siviilipalvelus in Finland, Zivildienst in Austria and Switzerland.
Several countries conscript male soldiers not only for armed forces, but for paramilitary agencies, which are dedicated to police-like domestic only service like Internal Troops, Border Guards or non-combat rescue duties like Civil defence troops – none of, considered alternative to the military conscription. As of the early 21st century, many states no longer conscript soldiers, relying instead upon professional militaries with volunteers enlisted to meet the demand for troops; the ability to rely on such an arrangement, presupposes some degree of predictability with regard to both war-fighting requirements and the scope of hostilities. Many states that have abolished conscription therefore still reserve the power to resume it during wartime or times of crisis. States involved in wars or interstate rivalries are most to implement conscription, whereas democracies are less than autocracies to implement conscription. Former British colonies are less to have conscription, as they are influenced by British anticonscription norms that can be traced back to the English Civil War.
Around the reign of Hammurabi, the Babylonian Empire used. Under that system those eligible were required to serve in the royal army in time of war. During times of peace they were instead required to provide labour for other activities of the state. In return for this service, people subject to it gained the right to hold land, it is possible that this right was not to hold land per se but specific land supplied by the state. Various forms of avoiding military service are recorded. While it was outlawed by the Code of Hammurabi, the hiring of substitutes appears to have been practiced both before and after the creation of the code. Records show that Ilkum commitments could become traded. In other places, people left their towns to avoid their Ilkum service. Another option was to sell Ilkum lands and the commitments along with them. With the exception of a few exempted classes, this was forbidden by the Code of Hammurabi. In medieval Scandinavia the leiðangr, leding, lichting, expeditio or sometimes leþing, was a levy of free farmers conscripted into coastal fleets for seasonal excursions and in defence of the realm.
The bulk of the Anglo-Saxon English army, called the fyrd, was composed of part-time English soldiers drawn from the freemen of each county. In the 690s Laws of Ine, three levels of fines are imposed on different social classes for neglecting military service; some modern writers claim. These thegns were the land-holding aristocracy of the time and were required to serve with their own armour and weapons for a certain number of days each year; the historian David Sturdy has cautioned about regarding the fyrd as a precursor to a modern national army composed of all ranks of society, describing it as a "ridiculous fantasy":The persistent old belief that peasants and small farmers gathered to form a national army or fyrd is a strange delusion dreamt up by antiquarians in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries to justify universal military conscription. Medieval levy in Poland was known as the pospolite ruszenie; the system of military slaves was used in the Middle East, beginning with the creation of the corps of Turkish slave-soldiers by the Abbasid caliph al-Mu'tasim in the 820s and 830s.
The Turkish troops soon came to dominate the government, establishing a pattern throughout the Islamic world of a ruling military class separated by ethnicity and religion by the mass of the population, a paradigm that found its apogee in the Mamluks of Egypt and the Janissary corps of the Ottoman Empire, institutions that survived until the early 19th century. In the middle of the 14th century, Ottoman Sultan Murad I developed personal troops to be loyal to him, with a slave army called the Kapıkulu; the new force was built by taking Christian children from newly conquered lands from the far areas of his empire, in a system known as the devşirme. The captive children were forced to convert to Islam; the Sultans had the young boys trained over several years. Those who showed special promise in fighting skills were trained in advanced warrior skills, put into the sultan's personal service, turned into the Janissaries, the elite branch of the Kapıkulu. A n
War in the Vendée
The War in the Vendée was an uprising in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located south of the Loire River in western France; the war was similar to the 14th-century Jacquerie peasant uprising, but acquired themes considered by the Jacobin government in Paris to be counter-revolutionary, Royalist. The uprising headed by the newly formed Catholic and Royal Army was comparable to the Chouannerie, which took place in the area north of the Loire; the departments included in the uprising, called the Vendée Militaire, included the area between the Loire and the Layon rivers: Vendée, part of Maine-et-Loire west of the Layon, the portion of Deux-Sèvres west of the River Thouet. Having secured their pays, the deficiencies of the Vendean army became more apparent. Lacking a unified strategy and fighting a defensive campaign, from April onwards the army lost cohesion and its special advantages. Successes continued for some time: Thouars was taken in early May and Saumur in June.
After this string of victories, the Vendeans turned to a protracted siege of Nantes, for which they were unprepared and which stalled their momentum, giving the government in Paris sufficient time to send more troops and experienced generals. Tens of thousands of civilians, Republican prisoners, sympathizers with the revolution or the religious were massacred by both armies. Historians such as Reynald Secher have described these events as "genocide", but most scholars reject the use of the word as inaccurate; the uprising was suppressed using draconian measures. The historian François Furet concludes that the repression in the Vendée "not only revealed massacre and destruction on an unprecedented scale but a zeal so violent that it has bestowed as its legacy much of the region's identity... The war aptly epitomizes the depth of the conflict... between religious tradition and the revolutionary foundation of democracy." Class differences were not as great in the Vendée in other French provinces.
In the rural Vendée, the local nobility seems to have been more permanently in residence and less bitterly resented than in other parts of France. Alexis de Tocqueville noted that most French nobles lived in cities by 1789. An Intendants' survey showed one of the few areas where they still lived with the peasants was the Vendée; the conflicts that drove the revolution in Paris, for example, were lessened in this isolated part of France by the strong adherence of the population to their Catholic faith. When the revolutionaries wanted to reduce the Church's influence, people of the Vendée region considered this unimaginable. In 1791, two representatives on mission informed the National Assembly of the disquieting condition of Vendée, this news was followed by the exposure of a royalist plot organized by the Marquis de la Rouërie, it was not until the social unrest and the fear of The Terror combined with the external pressures from the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the introduction of a levy of 300,000 on the whole of France, decreed by the National Convention in February 1793, that the region erupted.
The Civil Constitution of the Clergy required all clerics to swear allegiance to it and, by extension, to the anti-clerical National Constituent Assembly. All but seven of the 160 bishops refused the oath. Persecution of the clergy and of the faithful was the first trigger of the rebellion. Nonjuring priests were exiled or imprisoned and women on their way to Mass were beaten in the streets. Religious orders were suppressed and Church property confiscated. On 3 March 1793 all the churches were ordered closed. Soldiers confiscated the people were forbidden to place crosses on graves. Nearly all the purchasers of church land were bourgeois; the March 1793 conscription requiring Vendeans to fill their district's quota of the national total of 300,000 enraged the populace, who took up arms instead as "The Catholic Army", "Royal" being added and fought for "above all the reopening of their parish churches with their former priests."Although town dwellers were more to support the Revolution in the Vendée, support for the revolution among the rural peasantry was not unknown.
Many lived on monastery properties, they overwhelmingly embraced the Revolution after these lands were seized and redistributed among them by the republican government. There were other levy riots across France when regions started to draft men into the army in response to the Levy Decree in February; the reaction in the northwest in early March was pronounced with large-scale rioting verging on insurrection. By early April, in areas north of the Loire, order had been restored by the revolutionary government, but south of the Loire in four departments that became known as the Vendée militaire there were few troops to control rebels and what had started as rioting took on the form of a full insurrection led by priests and the local nobility. Within a few weeks the rebel forces had formed a substantial, if ill-equipped, the Royal and Catholic Army, supported by two thousand irregular cavalry and a few captured artillery pieces; the main force of the rebels operated on a much smaller scale, using guerrilla tactics, supported by the insurgents' unparalleled local knowledge and the good-will of the people.
Geographically, the insurrection occurred within a rough qu
Jeanne d'Albret known as Jeanne III, was the queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, was the mother of Henri de Bourbon, who became King Henry III of Navarre and IV of France, the first Bourbon king of France, she became the Duchess of Vendôme by marriage. Jeanne was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement, a key figure in the French Wars of Religion. After her public conversion to Calvinism in 1560, she joined the Huguenot side. During the first and second war she remained neutral, but in the third war she fled to La Rochelle, becoming the de facto leader of the Huguenot-controlled city. After negotiating a peace treaty with Catherine de' Medici and arranging the marriage of her son, Henry, to Catherine's daughter, Marguerite de Valois, she died in Paris. Jeanne was the last active ruler of Navarre, her son inherited her kingdom, but as he was leading the Huguenot forces, he entrusted the government of Béarn to his sister, Catherine de Bourbon, who held the regency for more than two decades.
In 1620, Jeanne's grandson Louis XIII annexed Navarre to the French crown. Jeanne was born in the palace of the royal court at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France at five o'clock in the afternoon on 16 November 1528, the daughter of Henry II, King of Navarre, by his wife Marguerite of Angoulême, her mother, the daughter of Louise of Savoy and Charles, Count of Angoulême, was the sister of Francis I of France and had been married to Charles IV, Duke of Alençon. She was a writer of some talent. Jeanne's birth was announced the following 7 January when King Francis gave his permission for the addition of a new master in all cities where there were incorporated guilds "in honour of the birth of Jeanne de Navarre, the king's niece". Since the age of two, as was the will of her uncle King Francis who took over her education, Jeanne was raised in the Château de Plessis-lèz-Tours in the Loire Valley, thus living apart from her parents, she received an excellent education under the tutelage of humanist Nicolas Bourbon.
Described as a "frivolous and high-spirited princess", she at an early age, displayed a tendency to be both stubborn and unyielding. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, offered to have her married to his son and heir, Philip, to settle the status of the Kingdom of Navarre. In 1541, when Jeanne was 12, Francis I, for political reasons, forced her to marry William "the Rich", Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, the brother of Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England. Despite having been whipped into obedience, she continued to protest and had to be carried bodily to the altar by the Constable of France, Anne de Montmorency. A description of Jeanne's appearance at her wedding revealed that she was sumptuously attired, wearing a golden crown, a silver and gold skirt encrusted with precious stones, a crimson satin cloak richly trimmed with ermine. Before her wedding, Jeanne signed two documents which she had officers of her household sign, declaring: "I, Jeanne de Navarre, persisting in the protestations I have made, do hereby again affirm and protest by these present, that the marriage which it is desired to contract between the duke of Cleves and myself, is against my will.
She remained at the royal court. After the death of Francis in 1547 and the accession of Henry II to the French throne, Jeanne married Antoine de Bourbon, "first prince of the blood", at Moulins in the Bourbonnais on 20 October 1548; the marriage was intended to consolidate territorial possessions in the south of France. Jeanne's marriage to Antoine was described by author Mark Strage as having been a "romantic match". A contemporary of Jeanne said of her that she had "no pleasure or occupation except in talking about or writing to, she does it in company and in private... the waters cannot quench the flame of her love". Antoine was a notorious philanderer. In 1554, he fathered an illegitimate son, Charles, by Louise de La Béraudière de l'Isle Rouhet, a court beauty known as "La belle Rouet". Antoine's frequent absences left Jeanne in Béarn to rule alone, in complete charge of a household which she managed with a firm and resolute hand; the couple had five children, of whom only two, king of France and king of Navarre, Catherine of Navarre, Duchess of Lorraine, lived to adulthood.
On 25 May 1555, Henry II of Navarre died, at which time Jeanne and her husband became joint rulers of Navarre. On accession to the throne, she inherited a conflict over Navarre and an independent territorial hold on Lower Navarre and the principality of Béarn, as well as other dependencies suzerain to the Crown of France. On 18 August 1555 at Pau and Antoine were crowned in a joint ceremony according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church; the previous month, a coronation coin commemorating the new reign had been minted. It was inscribed in Latin with the following words: Antonius et Johanna Dei gratia reges Navarrae Domini Bearni. Jeanne was influenced by her mother, who died in 1549, with leanings toward religious reform, humanist thinking, individual liberty; this legacy was influential in her decision to convert to Calvinism. In the first year of her reign, Qu
Henry IV of France
Henry IV known by the epithet Good King Henry or Henry the Great, was King of Navarre from 1572 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first monarch of France from the House of Bourbon, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, he was assassinated in 1610 by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic, was succeeded by his son Louis XIII. The son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme and Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen of Navarre, Henry was baptised as a Catholic but raised in the Protestant faith by his mother, he inherited the throne of Navarre in 1572 on his mother's death. As a Huguenot, Henry was involved in the French Wars of Religion escaping assassination in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, he led Protestant forces against the royal army. Henry IV and his predecessor Henry III of France are both direct descendants of the Saint-King Louis IX. Henry III belonged to the House of Valois, descended from Philip III of France, elder son of Saint Louis; as Head of the House of Bourbon, Henry was "first prince of the blood."
Upon the death of his brother-in-law and distant cousin Henry III in 1589, Henry was called to the French succession by the Salic law. He kept the Protestant faith and had to fight against the Catholic League, which denied that he could wear France's crown as a Protestant. To obtain mastery over his kingdom, after four years of stalemate, he found it prudent to abjure the Calvinist faith; as a pragmatic politician, he displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the era. Notably, he promulgated the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious liberties to Protestants, thereby ending the Wars of Religion. Considered a usurper by some Catholics and a traitor by some Protestants, Henry became target of at least 12 assassination attempts. An unpopular king among his contemporaries, Henry gained more status after his death, he was admired for his conversion to Catholicism. The "Good King Henry" was remembered for his geniality and his great concern about the welfare of his subjects. An active ruler, he worked to regularise state finance, promote agriculture, eliminate corruption and encourage education.
During his reign, the French colonization of the Americas began with the foundation of the colony of Acadia and its capital Port-Royal. He was celebrated in Voltaire's Henriade. Henry de Bourbon was born in Pau, the capital of the joint Kingdom of Navarre with the sovereign principality of Béarn, his parents were Queen Joan III of Navarre and her consort, Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, King of Navarre. Although baptised as a Roman Catholic, Henry was raised as a Protestant by his mother, who had declared Calvinism the religion of Navarre; as a teenager, Henry joined the Huguenot forces in the French Wars of Religion. On 9 June 1572, upon his mother's death, the 19-year-old became King of Navarre. At Queen Joan's death, it was arranged for Henry to marry Margaret of Valois, daughter of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici; the wedding took place in Paris on 18 August 1572 on the parvis of Notre Dame Cathedral. On 24 August, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre began in Paris. Several thousand Protestants who had come to Paris for Henry's wedding were killed, as well as thousands more throughout the country in the days that followed.
Henry narrowly escaped death thanks to the help of his wife and his promise to convert to Catholicism. He was forced to live at the court of France, but he escaped in early 1576. On 5 February of that year, he formally abjured Catholicism at Tours and rejoined the Protestant forces in the military conflict, he named Catherine de Bourbon, regent of Béarn. Catherine held the regency for nearly thirty years. Henry became heir presumptive to the French throne in 1584 upon the death of Francis, Duke of Anjou and heir to the Catholic Henry III, who had succeeded Charles IX in 1574; because Henry of Navarre was the next senior agnatic descendant of King Louis IX, King Henry III had no choice but to recognise him as the legitimate successor. Salic law barred the king's sisters and all others who could claim descent through only the female line from inheriting. Since Henry of Navarre was a Huguenot, the issue was not considered settled in many quarters of the country, France was plunged into a phase of the Wars of Religion known as the War of the Three Henries.
Henry III and Henry of Navarre were two of these Henries. The third was Henry I, Duke of Guise, who pushed for complete suppression of the Huguenots and had much support among Catholic loyalists. Political disagreements among the parties set off a series of campaigns and counter-campaigns that culminated in the Battle of Coutras. In December 1588, Henry III had Henry I of Guise murdered, along with his brother, Cardinal de Guise. Henry III thought that the removal of the brothers would restore his authority. However, the populace rose against him. In several cities, the title of the king was no longer recognized, his power was limited to Blois and the surrounding districts. In the general chaos, Henry III relied on King Henry of his Huguenots; the two kings were united by a common interest—to win France from the Catholic League. Henry III acknowledged the King of Navarre as a true subject and Frenchman, not a fanatic Huguenot aiming for the destruction of
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort of France and England and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. As a member of the Ramnulfids rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages, she was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Bernart de Ventadorn. She was a leader of the Second Crusade; as duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor was the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after becoming duchess upon the death of her father, William X, she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI; as queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon afterwards, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III. However, after the birth of her second daughter Alix, Louis agreed to an annulment, as 15 years of marriage had not produced a son; the marriage was annulled on 21 March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree.
Their daughters were declared legitimate, custody was awarded to Louis, Eleanor's lands were restored to her. As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to the duke of Normandy, who became King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry was 11 years younger; the couple married on Whitsun, 18 May 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in Poitiers Cathedral. Over the next 13 years, she bore eight children: five sons; however and Eleanor became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting their son Henry's revolt against him, she was not released until 6 July 1189, when Henry died and their second son, Richard the Lionheart, ascended the throne. As queen dowager, Eleanor acted as regent. Eleanor lived well into the reign of John. Eleanor's year of birth is not known precisely: a late 13th-century genealogy of her family listing her as 13 years old in the spring of 1137 provides the best evidence that Eleanor was born as late as 1124. On the other hand, some chronicles mention a fidelity oath of some lords of Aquitaine on the occasion of Eleanor's fourteenth birthday in 1136.
This, her known age of 82 at her death make 1122 more the year of birth. Her parents certainly married in 1121, her birthplace may have been Poitiers, Bordeaux, or Nieul-sur-l'Autise, where her mother and brother died when Eleanor was 6 or 8. Eleanor was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was renowned in early 12th-century Europe, his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault, Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard, William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother, her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangereuse with her paternal grandfather William IX. Eleanor is said to have been named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor from the Latin alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor, it became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl of northern Eleanor in English. There was, another prominent Eleanor before her—Eleanor of Normandy, an aunt of William the Conqueror, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In Paris as the queen of France she was called Helienordis, her honorific name as written in the Latin epistles. By all accounts, Eleanor's father ensured. Eleanor came to learn arithmetic, the constellations, history, she learned domestic skills such as household management and the needle arts of embroidery, sewing and weaving. Eleanor developed skills in conversation, games such as backgammon and chess, playing the harp, singing. Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin, was well versed in music and literature, schooled in riding and hunting. Eleanor was extroverted, lively and strong-willed, her four-year-old brother William Aigret and their mother died at the castle of Talmont on Aquitaine's Atlantic coast in the spring of 1130. Eleanor became the heir presumptive to her father's domains; the Duchy of Aquitaine was the richest province of France. Poitou, where Eleanor spent most of her childhood, Aquitaine together were one-third the size of modern France.
Eleanor had only one other legitimate sibling, a younger sister named Aelith called Petronilla. Her half-brother Joscelin was acknowledged by William X as a son, but not as his heir; the notion that she had another half-brother, has been discredited. During the first four years of Henry II's reign, her siblings joined Eleanor's royal household. In 1137 Duke William X took his daughters with him. Upon reaching Bordeaux, he left them in the charge of the archbishop of Bordeaux, one of his few loyal vassals; the duke set out for the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela in the company of other pilgrims. However, he died on Good Friday of that year. Eleanor, aged 12 to 15 became the duchess of Aquitaine, thus the most eligible heiress in Europe; as these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for obtaining a title, William dictated a will on the day he died that bequeathed his domains to Eleanor and appointed King Louis VI of France as her guardian. William requested of the king that he take care of both the lands and the duchess, an
First Massacre of Machecoul
The Machecoul massacre is one of the first events of the War in the Vendée, a revolt against mass conscription and the civil constitution of the clergy. The first massacre took place on 11 March 1793, in the provincial city of Machecoul, in the district of the lower Loire; the city was a thriving center of grain trade. Although the Machecoul massacre, others that followed it, are viewed as a royalist revolt, or a counter-revolution, twenty-first century historians agree that Vendee revolt was a complicated popular event brought on by anti-clericalism of the Revolution, mass conscription, Jacobin anti-federalism. In the geographic area south of the Loire, resistance to recruitment was intense, much of this area resented intrusion by partisans of the republic, called "blue coats", who brought with them new ideas about district and judicial organization, who required reorganization of parishes with the so-called juring priests; the insurgency became a combination of many impulses, at which conscription and the organization of parishes led the list.
The response to it was violent on both sides. In 1791, two representatives on mission informed the National Convention of the disquieting condition of Vendée, this news was followed by the exposure of a royalist plot organized by the Marquis de la Rouërie, it was not until the social unrest combined with the external pressures from the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the introduction of a levy of 300,000 on the whole of France, decreed by the National Convention in February 1793, that the region erupted. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy required all clerics to swear allegiance to it and, by extension, to the anti-clerical National Constituent Assembly. All but seven of the 160 French bishops refused the oath. Persecution of the clergy and of the faithful was the first trigger of the rebellion; those who refused the oath, called non-juring priests, had been imprisoned. Women on their way to Mass were beaten in the streets. Religious orders had been Church property, confiscated. On 3 March 1793, most of the churches were ordered closed.
Soldiers confiscated the people were forbidden to place crosses on graves. Nearly all the purchasers of church land were bourgeois. To add to this insult, on 23 February 1793 the Convention required the raising of an additional 300,000 troops from the provinces, an act which enraged the populace, who took up arms instead as The Catholic Army; this army fought foremost for the reopening of parish churches with the former priests. In March 1793, as word of the conscription requirements filtered into the countryside, many Vendéans refused to satisfy the decree of the levee en masse issued on 23 February 1793. Within weeks the rebel forces had formed a substantial, if ill-equipped, the Royal and Catholic Army, supported by two thousand irregular cavalry and a few captured artillery pieces. Most of the insurgents operated on a much smaller scale, using guerrilla tactics, supported by the local knowledge and the good-will of the people; the irregular army raised in the countryside had not reached Machecoul, but the officials from the conscription officers had.
On Monday, 11 March 1793, a crowd arrived in the center of the town, from the surrounding countryside. A nervous soldier opened the enraged crowd retaliated. Between 22 and 26 soldiers were killed, including their lieutenant, Pierre-Claude Ferré; the immediate victims included the juring priest, Pierre Letort, bayoneted to death and whose body was mutilated, Pagnot the magistrate, Étienne Gaschignard, the principal of the college. The National Guard was routed, the rebels, including many women, seized those they called "patriots" —also called the "Blues", or the people who supported the republican cause—and led them to prison in the old castle and the convent of Sisters of Cavalry. There they killed the guardsmen and some notable inhabitants, about 20 in total, although according to some testimony, as many as 26 were killed on the first day and 18 the next day. Alfred Lallié, another witness, gave 22 as the count of dead; the situation spiraled out of control. In the following days, the insurgents swelled to some six thousand men and women, some of the republican adherents and their families fled to Nantes and other strongholds.
On 19 March, many counter-revolutionary suspects were rounded up and the republicans inflicted their own massacres: in La Rochelle, six non-juring priests were hacked to death and their heads shown throughout the city. About a week the insurgents from Machecoul seized the neighboring harbor town of Pornic on 23 March, this time joined by some of the irregular army, forming elsewhere, sacked it. A republican patrol surprised the Vendeans, who were carousing on liberated cellars, killed between 200 and 500 of them; the angry peasants returned to Machecoul and in reprisal killed another dozen prisoners on 27 March. In total, about 200 died, when the survivors of Pornic returned to Machecoul, they pulled the detained "blue coats" out of the prisoner and shot them, a process that lasted over the next few weeks, into mid-April. Tales of brutality, some of which may have been true, abounded. Current re