Front Page Titles (by Subject) 76.: After St. Bartholomew's Night - Judgments on History and Historians
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76.: After St. Bartholomew’s Night - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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After St. Bartholomew’s Night
The refugees and pamphleteers recognized only a religious intention of the action and devised an agreement with the pope and Spain for the eradication of Protestantism as a whole.
However, the action had been aimed at the Huguenots, who were allied with the politiques, as a political party, especially at Coligny, not as Protestant, but as party head. If the intent had been merely religious, Navarre and Condé would not have been spared.
Regarding the murders in the provinces, it may be remarked that they did not occur at all in precisely those provinces administered by the Guises and their followers—in Picardy, Champagne, Brittany, Dauphiné, Auvergne, Languedoc, Provence. Nothing happened anywhere in the open country.
Where murders were committed, this was because people in the cities concerned had feared armed uprisings and raids by Huguenots with which religious wars had always started. Especially in Lyon people were worried about this. Following the news of the defeat of Mons, a list of the Protestant citizens and their servants was made in Lyon, and those who were not citizens were ordered to leave the city. Governor Mandelot was completely loyal to the king. After the decision of Mons the governors of the most important towns, almost all fortified ones, were commanded to provide for their safety.
To be sure, here, too, the fanatical rabble interfered and continued even after the king had ordered a stop; thus it was in Meaux, Orleans, Bourges, and Lyon. In Rouen and Toulouse the persecution did not break out until the middle of September. In the entire country there were maybe 20,000 casualties. The number of communities decreased little; as late as 1576 there were 2000.
Only if one does not lose sight of the essentially political character of the massacre of St. Bartholomew does one comprehend the following: that the French government did not join with Philip II; that it did not pass into the hands of the Guises whom Charles continued to hate; that Charles IX in the Declarations of August 26 and 28, in which he takes the responsibility for everything, declares that the Edict of St. Germain remains in force. But the Huguenot ritual practices were curtailed, “for the protection of the Protestants themselves from mob excesses,” as was explained for the benefit of foreign countries. The Montmorencys remained in the royal council. Philip and Alba for the time being were pacified by the court’s complete dissociation from Coligny’s Netherlands activities; but the desire for Flanders continued, with only its fulfillment postponed. Geneva, in its concern over Savoy and Spain, was hastily assured of French protection, and soon negotiations with Orange were being carried on again. The project of a marriage between Elizabeth of England and François d’Alençon, the brother of Charles IX, continued on its course. Where is it that one reads about Elizabeth receiving the French envoy in mourning? She was the first to congratulate Charles IX on the averted danger!
In Poland the French court constantly leaned on the Protestant faction in order to accomplish the election of the Anjou. To frustrate this became a major assignment of the refugee Huguenot writers, especially in Geneva: Hotman, Donneau. They painted the conduct of the royal house and the Guises in the most horrible colors.
That the king took everything upon himself and asserted categorically that the Guises and others had acted on his orders was a formal French practice, on account of the prevalent idea that nothing could happen except by royal order. He fabricated a four-year premeditation on top of that.
Later, when the Huguenots had gained the upper hand again and the court had turned against the Guises (1576), Charles’s share was decreased again and the action itself disavowed. Later still, under the Bourbons, the Valois were treated with consideration and left out of the picture, and the murder plan was laid at the door of the Guises.
The main sorrow in the period of 1572, however, did not pertain to the number of casualties or the perfidy of the proceedings, but to the frustration of the great seizure of power by the party which had been about to seize the crown, take Belgium, and push Catholicism back over the Alps and the Pyrenees. This frustration was la grande trahison [the great betrayal].
Instead of this, the court continued with the policies of Henry II: repression of Protestantism at home and Protestant alliances abroad.
The court thought it had by no means committed a “crime” that would have to be palliated, neither Charles nor Anjou nor Catherine de Medici nor the Guises and the fanatical citizens of Paris. No one denied his participation, except the court later, and then for political rather than moral reasons.