1902 Encyclopedia > Charles IX of France

Charles IX
(1550-74)
King of France




CHARLES IX. (1550-1574), king of France, was the second son of Henry II. and Catherine de' Medici. At the age of ten he succeeded his brother Francis II. His mother became regent, and Anthony of Navarre lieutenant of the kingdom. During Charles's youth there was fierce and continual war between the Huguenots, under Conde and Coligny, and the duke of Guise and his adherents In the second period of the contest Catherine opposed the former party ; but in 1570 Charles, declaring himself convinced that conformity in religion is impossible, and avowedly acting on his own judgment and in opposition to his mother, brought about a reconciliation with the Huguenots. His sister was married to the young Huguenot king of Navarre, Charles protesting that their union should not be prevented even by the Pope Admiral Coligny was received into familiar friendship, made one of the council, and treated as the chief adviser of the king, while on the attempt to assassinate him Charles expressed deep regret and an earnest intention to punish the crime. His sincerity in this course of conduct has been questioned; we are reminded that he was neither scrupulous nor merciful, and it is said that his restless and apparently open manner concealed a long-conceived and terrible treachery. According to another and more probable account, he was not acquainted with the plots of his mother till their fulfilment was almost at hand, and it was on the ground that the Huguenots were conspiring against the throne that he was prevailed upon not to interfere in preventing the massacre of St Bartholomew's day 1572. His consent was wrung from him. it is said, in an agony of passion, and the memory of the event tortured him till his death, which occurred at Vincennes only two years later. But there is no doubt that his con-sent was given, for next day he avowed the act, declaring that it had proved necessary in order to check a dangerous rebellion. Charles left a work on hunting, entitled La Chasse Royale, an edition of which, published in 1857, contains also several poems by him.
Contemporary accounts of this reign were published by Des Portes, Sainte-Foy, and Favier in 1574, the year of Charles's death, and by Varillas in 1584








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