France in 1550



Ø  Population probably 15-20 million (the most heavily populates country in Europe)

Ø  Logically France was the strongest country in Europe in terms of resources, population, food and weapon manufacture

Ø  Unified in terms of language and culture. France was essentially a nation state sharing a common culture, language and government, the only other states comparable in 1550 were England (much weaker) and Spain and Portugal but Spain was not very united and Portugal was weak.

Ø  The French royal family was arguably the richest in Western Europe. This gave them much more power within their country than either the rulers of Britain or Spain- who had to ask their Parliaments. The French parliament called the states general was rarely called.

Ø  The King of France from 1547 was Henry II. He was a tough warrior who was fighting a long war against Spain. In 1559 H signed a peace with Spain called the Cateau-Cambresis. This was to be sealed by the marriage of the Spanish King (Phillip II) to the daughter of Henry II – Elizabeth of Valois. This lead to the death of Henry II in a jousting accident. Henry’s children were young and France found itself weakened by this.

Religious Differences

Ø  Frances’ other weakness stemmed from the growth of Protestantism – which meant that it is no longer a unified nation

Ø  Henry II had been very ruthless on Protestants and burnt hundreds

Differences between Calvinism

Differences between Calvinism and RC

Differences between Lutheranism and RC

·       Lutheran “churches” were a little decorated


·       Consubstantiation (remains bread but also becomes Body)


·       Lutheranism was basically a top down religion, with a hierarchy

·       Calvinists believe in pre-destination unlike the RC Calvinists don’t believe in a Pope

·       Calvinists didn’t believe in priests and bishops

·       Bread is bread

·       Calvinists believed in equality of all member of their faith

·       Calvinist meeting places were plain and undecorated

·       Calvinism was “bottom up” religion



·       Catholic Churches were highly ornate and opulent

·       Transubstantiation (bread becomes boys of Jesus)

·       Top-down hierarchical

·       RC did not believe that the bible was the entire work of God as so, were the works of some saints, popes, church council etc


Religion in France in 1540 onwards

Ø  Lutheranism much little impact in France, although, it was very popular in Germany and Northern Europe. This was because the Kings of France were not sympathetic

Ø  King of France had special rights vis-à-vis the Pope which meant that the Pope could not claim any effective power in France this meant Lutheranism had little appeal.

Ø  However, from the 1530s onwards, Calvinism begins to spread in France- appealing especially to the middle class and also minor nobility and in some areas (mainly south) the ordinary people

Ø  Henry II began


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