Edict of Saint-Germain
The Edict of Saint-Germain, also known as the Edict of January, was a decree of tolerance
Edict of Toleration
An edict of toleration is a declaration made by a government or ruler and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions...

 promulgated by the regent, Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

, in January 1562. It provided limited tolerance of Protestantism in her Roman Catholic realms, especially in relation to the French Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...


It was among Catherine's first moves as Regent, after the death of Francis II
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 on December 5, 1560. Consistent with Catherine's maneuvering, it attempted to steer a middle course between Protestants and Catholics in order to strengthen royal dominion. Without threatening the privileged position of the Catholic Church in France, the Edict recognized the existence of the Protestants and guaranteed freedom of conscience and private worship. It forbade Huguenot worship within towns (where conflicts flared up too easily) but permitted Protestant synods and consistories. The crown found it hard to register the edict however, a process which required the Parlement of Paris ratifying the edict and adding it to the statutes. The judges of the Parlement were allowed to make remonstrances to the crown and specify areas where the new law conflicted with the old before it was published, and they made the process protracted enough that it was not registered until after the Massacre of Vassy on March 1, 1562, which initiated the first religious war
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

. This lag made the Huguenot worship interrupted by Francis, Duke of Guise
Francis, Duke of Guise
Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale , called Balafré , was a French soldier and politician.-Early life:...

 at Wassy
Wassy , formerly known as Wassy-sur-Blaise, is a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France.Population : 3,294.-History:...

 ("Vassy") of questionable legality as there was no consensus on when a law came into effect. The Protestants claimed that as they worshiped outside of the town they were following the rules of the edict, and thus the Duke's attack was illegitimate.

Though no non-partisan contemporary accounts were possible in the heated atmosphere the Massacre of Vassy occurred when the Duke of Guise, with a large armed band of retainers came upon a Huguenot service in progress at Vassy. Some of the duke's party attempted to push their way into the barn where the service was being held and were repulsed. Stones began to fly and the Duke was struck. His men fired upon the unarmed crowd, killing some sixty out of six or seven hundred, and wounding more. Significantly, there were more contemporary reactions expressed to the masscre at Vassy than to the Edict of January. Huguenots were as intransigent as Catholics: Theodore Beza
Theodore Beza
Theodore Beza was a French Protestant Christian theologian and scholar who played an important role in the Reformation...

 remarked to the royal envoy that persecutions are futile and that the Reformed church was like an anvil on which many hammers have been broken.

The Huguenots soon seized Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

, then towns along the Rhône
Rhône River
The Rhone is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland and running from there through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone...

and other rivers, and Catherine declared that two religions could not exist in France: "un roi, une loi, une foi" was the contemporary catchphrase. By the summer, events had outpaced the Edict.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.