Bartholomew's Night

night of 23 to 24 August 1572 in Paris

To Saint Bartholomew.

On August 23, 1572, under pressure from the Queen Mother Catherine de Medici, King Charles IX ordered the murder of all Protestants in the country. The massacre spread from Paris to all major cities in the country and lasted for three days. At least 20,000 Huguenots were killed.

The king reluctantly gave his consent: "At least kill them all, so that no one will be able to blame me for the murder." The night is also called 'Parisian blood wedding' because at that time many noble Protestants in the capital had attended the wedding of Henry IV of Bourbon, one of their leaders, with Margaret of Valois, the king's sister.

Because of his particular martyrdom, Saint Bartholomew is the patron saint of butchers: according to legend, he was skinned alive by his brother and is depicted with a knife in one hand and his skin in the other. His feast day is August 24.

By a coincidence, this was very much in line with the massacre that was caused during the Bartholomew's Night. Or as an eyewitness describes the death of the Huguenot leader Coligny: 'The assassins pierced the dying nobleman with their weapon and then threw him out of the window.

The leader of the Catholics gave another kick to the lifeless face and had the severed head taken to the Louvre. Later the canaille seized the rest of the corpse and amused with it in the usual way.'

> (see also Huguenot and henri-quatre)