The St Bartholomew Day’s Massacre (1572)

‘During the night of August 23/24, 1572 on the eve of St Bartholomew’s Day, Catholics engaged in a mass slaughter of thousands of Huguenots in Paris – men and women, old men and infants. Catherine de Medicis is to have said that it was kind to be cruel to the Huguenots and cruel to be kind. The Spanish ambassador reported elatedly to Philip II: “As I write, they are killing them all, they are stripping them naked, dragging them through the streets, plundering the houses, and sparing not even children. Blessed be God who has converted the French princes to His cause! May He inspire their hearts to continue as they have begun.” And Pope Gregory XIII exclaimed that the massacre pleased him more than fifty victories at Lepanto. That night of carnage staggered the imagination of contemporaries and descendants.’