Religion, Wars of

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Religion, Wars of (1562–98) Series of religious conflicts in France. At stake was freedom of worship for Huguenots (Protestants), but it was also a struggle between monarchy and nobility. The Huguenot leaders were, successively, Louis I de Condé, Caspard de Coligny, and Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV). The Catholic party was led by the House of Guise. The monarchy, represented by Catherine de' Medici and her sons, Charles IX and Henry III, attempted to pursue a moderate Catholic line. The first three civil wars (1562–63, 1567–68, 1568–70) ended in the Treaty of St Germain (1570), which granted concessions to the Protestants. Hostilities recommenced with the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572). The fifth civil war (1574–76) resulted in the Edict of Beaulieu that granted freedom of worship to Huguenots. The Catholic party formed a Holy League and the Edict was revoked, prompting renewed conflict. Henry III's naming of Henry of Navarre as his heir led to the War of the Three Henrys (1585–89). Henry IV emerged victorious and the Edict of Nantes (1598) extended toleration to the Huguenots.