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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

Part 5: Renaissance and Reformation France

The Modern 16th century


Two European movements dominate French history during this century, as they dominated the history of the wider Europe. They are, firstly, the Renaissance, or New Learning, which spread from Italy into France and affected all aspects of French cultural life from painting to writing from architecture to science. The second is the reformation of the medieval Catholic Church with the arrival of Protestantism. The Huguenots, as Protestants were known in France, followed the teachings of Jean Calvin.


How did these movements determine the future history of France, culturally, theologically, and politically?


There are many individual French men and women in this period who played major roles.

Some of these key players include, Francis I, Rabelais, Calvin, Catherine de Medici and Henri IV.


The era is not without internal conflict as illustrated by events such as The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Day and the wider Wars of Religion. There continued to be external conflict too, especially with French aspirations in Northern Italy.


Many historians believe this century set the tone for the rest of the Bourbon Monarchy from its inception in 1589 up to the Revolution of 1789; and some aspects, many believe, continued to affect France post 1789.


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