The St Bartholomew Day’s Massacre (1572)

I am not a Christian and do not subscribe to the Catholic Vs Protestant dichotomy. Although I respect the beliefs of others (whether theist, atheist or non-theist), my personal idea is that science had the potential to solve all of humanity’s problems. Whilst agreeing with the principle of religious freedom as a private matter of conscience, I do not, in any way, support religiously inspired violence, be it emotional, psychological or physical in nature. Any person can be good, bad or neutral, and a good person does not have to hold any religious convictions to be ‘good’, just as many holding religious views are known (through their opinions and behaviour) to be thoroughly evil. It would be both remiss (and dishonest) of me if I did not make it clear that some people are very good precisely because they do hold religious opinions and moderate their behaviour through a definite moral code. A local NHS GP Surgery in South London, for instance, is administered by a multicultural team of (Protestant) ‘Christian’ doctors who treat anyone without question (regardless of background), and have refused to make many of the ‘cuts’ in services and treatments enacted by the Tories and LibDems in their attempt to ‘privatise’ the NHS and sell it off into the US-controlled private sector. These doctors still treat their patients with respect and are holding-out against this destructive capitalism due to their Christian faith – and I respect them for that (as they treated me and my family). This post, however, is about the 1572 ‘St Bartholomew Day Massacre’ in Paris (France) which saw between 5000 and 30,000 (Protestant) Huguenots – men, women and children of all ages – brutally murdered by a Catholic mob. These poor people were rounded-up from their homes, stripped naked, beaten, raped, tortured, dismembered, beheaded, burnt, drowned and trampled underfoot! The killing was carried-out by hand, was well-planned and generally supported by the ordinary French population, the French Authorities, European royalty and the Vatican. This chilling episode in French history reads like a Nazi Germany atrocity carried-out in the USSR during WWII, such was its graphic and hate filled nature. About a year ago, my family visited the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS) in Brixton (South London), and whilst there, I acquired a copy of the wonderful Soviet-era book entitled ‘Ambient Conflicts’ by Yefim Chernyak. Indeed, the following quote about this appalling incident is an extract from this very book: 

‘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.’ 

Ambient Conflicts – Chapters from the History of Relations between Countries with Different Social Systems – by Yefim Chernyak, Progress, (1987), Pages 122-123 

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