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Not a Sahib
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Nov 25, 2007
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The reformation and resurrection of France, an alternate life of Henri IV.[/COLOR]




Voted Best EUIII History Book AAR - Q3, Q4 2008 and Q1, Q2 2009
Glorified, as patron of Huguenots and the Gallic Church - October 2008 Many thanks to asd!
Writer of the Week 6/11 2008 - Thank you CatKnight!
Weekly AAR Showcase 4/3 2009 - Thanks to great comrade tehfreakie!
- Best Character Writer of the Week 24/4 2009 - - Merci to volksmarschall!
AARwarded a Lord Strange Cookie of British Awesomeness

Select comments on the AAR

mandead said:
On the contrary, Milties, I think this is a bloody atrocious attempt at an AAR, but I've read this far so I thought I might as well stick it out.

To be frank, I've read more entertaining things on the back of beer mats.

Hi there and welcome to my second AAR!
This will be my attempt at actually finishing a story here. To make it easier and thus more enjoyable I’ve changed my style a bit. This piece will be written in a (kind of) history book style and the updates will be smaller than they used to be. Hopefully this will prevent the worst cases of Writer's Block.

In OT Henri IV, supposedly, uttered the words: Paris vaut bien une messe! [Paris is worth a mass] when he stood outside Paris unable to enter as a Protestant king. He was then forced to abjure his Protestant faith for the second time to become the king of France. France had by then been ravaged by no less than eight wars of religion. Things change though in this timeline, on the 2nd of August 1589, Henri technically ascends the French throne as the head of the Gallic Church and France. Around him (me) the Spanish ready themselves and their proxy fighters, the Catholic League, for a fight about the very identity of France.

I will be using various graphical mods and some personal modding to actually implement the possibility to start in 1589 as Reformed (referred to as Protestant) France. I've also beefed the stats of the General Henri IV.

Table of contents said:

Vive la France,
Vive le roi Henri!


Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


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Prelude - Part I

A history of the Huguenots


John Calvin

The Protestant reformation in France began, and was centred, in Geneva, Switzerland whereto Jean Cauvin [John Calvin] had fled when Paris became too hot a place to be for him. From here preachers of the new faith spread out through the French lands. Even the name of the French Protestants is believed to be the bastardized French version of the Swiss/German word Eidgenosse –oaths comrade, though they referred to themselves as reformés, the name soon became dominant. Jean Cauvin himself had always hoped to achieve that not only the common folk of France would convert to his reformed church, but that it would also be the fate of the very French state and thus the French monarchy. The Valois monarchy had, however, held on to its Catholic faith and persecuted the reformers with various degrees of severity. The new faith was increasingly accepted by the bourgeoisie and the gentry, finding safe heavens in the cities. The first national synod was held underground in Paris in 1559. It was there that the first national protestant church of France was organized by 66 delegates. When Calvin died in 1564, the stream of religious refugees coming from France was about to turn. By 1570 there could have been as many as 1,750 Reformed churches in France.

The Wars of Religion

The growing influence of the reformed church worried the Valois monarchy led by Catherine de Medici as acting regent for her son Charles. Their fear of the reformation was not merely one of religious anxiety. The reformation had become a political party when the princes of the blood; Bourbon and Navarre together with admiral de Coligny had proclaimed themselves for the reformation. On one side the Huguenots were led by Henri IV’s father Henri II Bourbon the king of Navarre and his brother Prince de Condé. On the other the Catholics were commanded by the princes of Lorraine, the Guises. They were fanatical Catholics and it was against them that the Huguenots united to defeat. The fighting started when the last straw that made the huge pile of hay that was the Protestant-Catholic feud fell with the massacre of a protestant congregation in Vassy. The haystack exploded like a volcano. Condé was captured, but Francis, Duke de Guise was assassinated and a truce was agreed on. Two more wars were fought between the warring parties until 1570, where a new truce was agreed on, which granted some concessions to the Protestants.

St. Bartholomew


Catholic mobs

In August 1572, Paris was in a fever. Rumours flourished, some claiming that the Protestants were going to kill the Guises, other said the direct opposite. The Guises distributed weapons to their followers in the city and told them to stand ready. On midnight the 23rd of August 1572 Admiral Coligny was assassinated by the Guises in Paris which started a general massacre by the Parisians on the Huguenots. The result of the massacre was almost 5,000 dead Protestants across France (2,000 in Paris and 3,000 in the rural districts), in what would be known as St. Bartholomew Day’s Massacre. Admiral Coligny was shot, stabbed and his body thrown through the dirty streets of Paris.


Catherine de Medici observes the result of the massacre

His friends had begged him to escape, but he had decided to die where he stood. The war flared up again and the Catholics went forward with great success as the Protestants had lost their leaders. Coligny had been murdered, Condé had converted and Henri of Navarre (the future Henri IV) was a prisoner at the Louvre. In the end the Protestants had to ask for terms, which they received. The new treaty severely weakened the Huguenots as they were only allowed to retain religious freedom in the cities of La Rochelle, Montauban and Nimes. The Valois, Charles didn’t live long to enjoy the victory as he passed away two years later. The second son of Catherine de Medici, Henri, now hastened home from Poland, where his election as king was only three months old, to take over the French throne. When the last Valois king was presented with Condé and Henri de Navarre he forgave and released them both. Henri de Navarre returned to the South of France to consolidate his position...
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Prelude - Part II

The War of the Three Henries


From left to right: Henri III of France (moderate Catholic) Henri de Guise (Catholic) Henri de Navarre (Protestant)​

The new king Henri III soon came to regret his release of the now prominent Huguenot leader and, although he kept up a façade of continued political negotiation with the Protestants, prepared for war. He had Catholic Leagues set up in all the provinces of the French realm. The war that followed took away more of the Protestant freedoms, but the Catholic party of the Guises had achieved nothing themselves.

The conflict between the two factions of the Guise and Bourbon (Navarre) became evident in 1584, when the heir presumptive to the French throne, François, duc d'Anjou and youngest son of Catherine de Medici, died. Under the Salic Law of succession, the new heir would be the King of Navarre, Henri de Bourbon the champion of the French reformation. This would never be accepted by the Catholic League and they immediately started to pressure the king into forcing the new heir to absolve his Protestant faith. They met no success and disappointed at the king’s lack of strength, they turned against him and towards Spain, where a weakening of the French kingdom was welcomed. The situation worsens quickly for King Henri III, the League signs an agreement with Philip II of Spain in 1584 granting them huge amounts of funds. Henri III of France was now without allies and in a desperate attempt to regain the League’s support, completely banned the practice of the Protestant faith throughout his Kingdom. This naturally means war for the Protestants and hostilities break out again between the three parties. Matters are complicated as Navarre is excommunicated and deemed unfit to rule France by the pope in 1585. The war continued and The Protestants inflicted a tremendous defeat on the Royal Army at Coutras in 1587 and continued to take Poitou and Saintogne for the Huguenots. [1]


Battle of Coutras​

The victory had strengthened the Protestants and the Catholics but severely weakened the king. The Guises could secure more men and money from a Spanish king who was rather scared of the abilities put forth by Henri de Navarre, while the Protestants rejoiced over their great victory and flocked around their pretender. The king was in dire straits and only the news of the death of Condé on the 5th of March 1588 made the future look brighter. Like Henri of Navarre had been imprisoned at the Louvre, King Henri III of France was now more or less in the clutches of the forces of the League which controlled Paris. Although he was a Catholic his past magnanimity towards the Huguenots had made him very unpopular, it was no better, in the eyes of the Guises, to be a moderate Catholic as to being a Huguenot. When Henri, duc de Guise entered Paris, the king of France fled the city. The mob of Paris was overjoyed and rumours spread that the Guise would be proclaimed king by the people of Paris. The flight of Henri III created a split in the Catholics as they divided themselves between the diehard Catholics under the Guises and the Royal Catholics. In the end the rivals of Henri de Navarre killed each other off. Henri III, scared by the popularity of the Guise faction (which had proved worryingly when the States General had voted for radical changes to the constitution, making the king little more than a puppet in the hands of the Guises), summoned the duc the Guise to his court at the Royal Castle in Blois. Henri duc de Guise arrived alongside his brother at Royal castle, despite warnings that the king had designs on their lives. Truly, assassins hired by the king awaited them and both the Guises were murdered on the 23rd of December 1588. Leadership of the Catholic League now went to the Duke of Mayenne, Charles of Lorraine.


The assassinations had only strengthened the League and the king was from then on referred to by them as Monsieur Henri Valois or as “The late king of France”. Henri III was now a man without a throne and had no other option than to come to terms with the Protestants. He revoked his ban of Protestantism and acknowledged Henri de Navarre as his heir. Henri III installed himself at St. Cloud as Navarre led the armies of the Royalists and Huguenots towards Paris. Yet all of France was shaken, when another assassination took place. On August 2nd 1589, a mad young monk entered the king’s quarters outside Paris and under pretext of delivering a secret message, stabbed the king. At first the wound didn’t seem serious and the king’s forces stormed Paris as they had planned on doing [2] and drove the League out of the city.
However Henri died the very same evening from his wounds. On his deathbed he pleaded Henri de Navarre, who had hurried to Paris to see the king, to abjure his Protestant faith. Though it caused him much pain to do so, the heir denied this sternly and with a silent prayer the king gave up his spirit. Henri de Navarre, Henri IV was now king of France.


Spread of the Reformation 1589)​

[1]In OT he decided to return to Béarn. Here I assume that he decided against it on grounds of the size of the victory and exploited it to the fullest, thus pressuring the two other sides.
[2]In OT Henri III died before the attack could be carried out.
Looks very interesting.
Is the religious map an alternative (game) one? Or should it reflect the historical situation?
I have often wondered how France and it's Protestant movement would have fared had Henri of Navarra not converted, also I love history-book AARs (especially if they are as neatly presented as yours), so I'll definitely be following this. :)

~Lord Valentine~
Chapter I - The Beginning


Western Europe 1589​


When Henri of Navarre rose from the deathbed of Henri III the signeurs, advisors and servants around him immediately knelt before him and acknowledged him as their king, and in a way that would be the reaction throughout his part of the kingdom of France. No larger part of the Huguenot gentry and nobility opposed him, and why should they? Yet much of France had yet to have a new king. The Catholic League now led by the duc de Mayenne held sway in much of the North East and even though the Catholic leader had retreated into Lorraine to gather support from Spain and Austria his forces still posed a dangerous threat to the new king. Even as Henri was crowned king of France, the Leaguers were amassing in the Spanish Netherlands. In order to counter the hostile forces of the League and the encroaching Catholic kingdoms of Spain and Austria, Henri needed allies with international power. The two likely candidates were the protestant kingdom of England and the United Provinces in rebellion against the Spanish. Elizabeth I of England had already sent an expeditionary force consisting of some 4,000 men under Lord Willoughby to help the Huguenots. An official alliance would thus not be hard to realise. The Dutch had already been in rebellion for more than 20 years and both English and Huguenot forces had fought alongside the Dutch Calvinists (Protestants) against the Spanish. The other candidates such as the Lutheran Scandinavian and German kingdoms were quickly discarded. Representatives of the three heads of state gathered in Paris in the early months of 1590 (which was still under staunch military occupation by the royalist forces) as France was not in war with Spain like the two other powers.

The Grand Alliance


Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and Elizabeth I of England

The charter of the alliance signed between the three powers was aimed at ending the catholic dominance over the Spanish Netherlands, breaking the Catholic League and securing independence for the United Provinces. Had England, the Netherlands and Spain not signed a peace within the next year, Henri IV would promise French intervention on behalf of his new allies. The French-Anglo-Dutch Alliance soon became known as the Reformed Grand Alliance or just the Grand Alliance. In France the formal entrance into the alliance was received well amongst the Protestants while the Catholics saw it as another step in the Protestant plan for world dominance and extermination of the catholic faith. The security of being with staunch and committed allies contributed greatly to stabilize the French kingdom.



Peace slowly returns[1]​

In spite of the repeated massacres by the Catholics, the Protestants performed graciously in victory. No extreme massacres took place after Henri IV’s ascension to the throne. That’s not to say that the royalists and Huguenots were merciful on the battlefield. Whenever the Leaguers took to the battlefield, they knew that quarter would not be given easily [2].

Response to Protestant inheritance

In Spain, King Philip was enraged and ordered his armies to gather in the southern Netherlands for the duke of Parma to command into France. Only the timely defeat of the Spaniards in the United Provinces at the hands of the Prince of Orange and the strains of having lost the Great Amada two years earlier held the Spanish forces outside the French borders. Strong words were uttered though and the Spanish ambassador was recalled from Paris. The Pope repeated his excommunication of Henri de Bourbon, but didn’t seem to understand that his words didn’t hold much weight inside the chambers of the French government as they used to do. The response of Henri IV came only weeks later. The counter-reformation in France was disbanded and the Huguenots granted complete religious freedom. To this the papacy had no answer.


The counter reformation ends - religious freedom for Huguenots is instituted

[1]Thus bringing it up to + 2
[2]Example would be Coutras where no quarter was given. The royalist commander was shot through the head as he tried to surrender to a group of Huguenot troopers.
@ Rigelnatz

That's the spread of the reformation ingame by 1589, so in some way hisorically correct ;)

@ Lord Valentine
Thanks a lot, glad to have you on board!
That's a powerful alliance you have secured there!
What are your strategic objectives? Conquering the Spanish Netherlands would probably be the most logical first step. But there are so many more countries beyond your border who have not yet been freed from the "Anti-Christ's" deceit.

~Lord Valentine~
I aim to secure my northern flank and then eliminate the Spanish in France-Comte so I don't have to worry about them when the Austrian hordes come crashing down upon me (Spain and Austria are in alliance).

Too tired to write ATM, update tomorrow.
I don't have much to say at this point except that I like what you've done so far. There can never be too many well-written history book AARs. Consider me a subscriber.
Chapter II – War and Peace

The Dutch Peace


Surrender of Breda to the Spanish forces

Although it seemed imminent, the war didn’t come. No longer than a few months passed after the signing of the charter of the Grand Alliance before Philip of Spain gave in. First he signed peace with Elizabeth of England. This staunch virgin queen had stood defiant against the Spanish giant, sunk its navy and won the gamble on the religion of the French throne. At the negotiations the queen’s envoy, William Cecil, English High Lord Treasurer refused every single Spanish demand. Every time the question, the very question of the war as it stood, the Dutch question, came up the duke simply laid down the cold hard facts. Had the Spanish not ceased fighting within the end of 1590 their forces in the Netherlands would be crushed between the Huguenots and the Dutch rebels. Retaking the rebellious northern part of the Low Countries in such a short span of time would be impossible for the strained Spanish. It could have been done, but only if the war treasury didn’t have to suffer under the strain of the English and Huguenot privateers. On top of that, the Catholic League needed funds for its guerrilla wars in south eastern France. In the end, Cecil held the Royal Flush [1] and the Spaniards had to settle for the demands of the Protestants; status quo ante bellum, Spanish guarantee of Ireland as a English sphere of influence and last but not least: the acknowledging of the United Provinces as an independent, sovereign and protestant nation.


Peace between the churches, however, eludes

In Amsterdam, the Dutch were feverish with joy. Independence had been achieved after more than 20 years of war thanks to the, or rather lack of, French intervention. Although the demands by the Dutch and English negotiators were accepted, not all was well in the United Provinces. The Spaniards had been persistent that they were to keep the city of Breda and its surroundings as a way to keep the United Provinces in check. As the English negotiators had already left, the Dutch representatives managed to find an alternative that would please both parties. Breda would become a semi independent city state ruled by a council containing both Dutch and Spanish representatives. The city would soon be occupied by Spanish troops and the council forced to accept Spanish protection in form of an alliance.

The Irish War

Elizabeth, having secured her back with alliances in both France and the Dutch Republic and having obtained Spaniard guarantee of non intervention, decided that it was time to reassert English rule over the emerald island Ireland. Only a few weeks passed after peace had been signed between the Grand Alliance and Spain, before the English began their campaign by declaring war on the principality of Connacht.


War on the Green island

The Dutch and English navies took to the seas carrying several regiments towards the Irish foe. Henri, however, had his own problems. The League was about to march its forces from the Spanish Netherlands and France-Comte towards the Huguenot King. This external and internal foe was becoming stronger and stronger. Indeed the Catholic League under the duke Mayenne would prove to be one of the three major enemies the new king would have to face in his reign. The lack of French troops in Ireland could hardly be felt anyways, the English made landfall and quickly broke the small force of Irish infantry and Spanish volunteers. The castle of Connacht fell after a month’s siege and an English governor was placed upon the prince’s throne.
So far everything had gone well for the Protestant alliance in Western Europe, but could it last?


English assault on Connacht

[1]Horrible pun ^^
So the great war ends more or less with a status quo peace. It looks like Protestant France must consolidate a little (perhaps convert a few unbelievers, get rid of masses in Paris :p ) before it can take on it's foreign enemies.

~Lord Valentine~
Paris won't be easy to convert, so instead I'm trying to spread the Reformation before taking the true faith abroad.
Chapter III – Action and Consolidation 1591-1594

Consolidating the kingdom


Paris, 1592

When Henri IV addressed his subjects in Paris two years after the death of his predecessor, Henri III Valois, he borrowed heavily from the speech Luther gave to the citizens of Strasbourg in 1529 [except: The Huguenot Revolution, University of Oxford press 1997]

”Citizens and free men of Paris! May thou know that I am most faithful to our lord saviour Christ and that I would not stand here before you had not our benevolent God been with me. I tell you this to remind you, my faithful subjects, of the fact that neither man nor beast can intervene in my heavenly granted ascension. I came upon a France torn by war and half lost to Spaniards and papists, through my care and toil I have saved the heritage; now, however, I must save it from ruin. This must be conducted with greatest care and agility. Fear not the psalms of the Huguenots, but revel in the te deum as nothing is dearer to us than the loving conservation of our subjects' hearts. But be advised messieurs, not until you have accepted my doctrines and given yourself to the path of Christ can I consider your my disciples.”

The message was quite clear. The king had no intentions of removing Catholicism from France, but he had on the other hand no intentions of granting favours to the Catholic gentry opposing him. The official stance towards Catholicism resulted in the hardening of tensions between the League and the Huguenots, but it also provided the moderate Catholics with a greatly needed sense of security. They would no longer have to fear extreme Huguenot persecution, but were in the king’s own words “free to revel in the te deum”. The Catholic shock and horror over the Irish War and the Huguenot revolution was slowly turning into satisfaction of, so far, end of the civil wars.


Stability returns, 1592-1594

On top of that, many inhabitants of previously Catholic provinces decided to convert to the Gallic church in order to secure the benefits this provided within the State. Between 1591 and 1594, four provinces either converted thanks to the bonuses offered by the conversion or because of sheer amount of faith in the reformed church.




The reformed church gains support

To break a League

The Dutch peace and the royalist recapture of Paris two years before had put the League on hold for a few years. Their leader, the duke Mayenne, had retreated into Lorraine where his agents raised and trained several regiments of Catholic Frenchmen and Spaniards for the coming resurgence of hostilities. Of the surrounding countries not a single one, besides the smaller German states east of Metz, could be expected to react in a pro French way if it ever came to hostilities. Savoy and Lorraine were both in the Spanish camp, thus closing the borders to the east and north east to French forces. More worrying, Spain could hit France from three points; Franche-Comte, Northern Spain and the Spanish Netherlands. Mayenne had already made attempts at invading France proper to take Paris, but had then been lured into Normandy and defeated at Ivry. The Duke retreated and was by 1593 ready to resume operations against the Huguenot king.
Henri IV was a talented soldier and statesman, but not even he could have guessed the boldness employed by the Spanish and Leaguers in their first, of many, attempts at pushing him from the throne.


Assaults and rebellions within France, 1593

In May and June 1593 the two League commanders, de la Barthie and Simon de Pontailler, led two armies of respectively 4,000 and 6,000 men into the French kingdom. The commander in chief, the duc de Mayenne, had the goal to undermine the support for the king by destroying his credibility by setting up independent Catholic communes. The advance of the League’s armies was one of pomp and splendour. The colourful uniforms of the Catholic armies and the beautiful standards and banners that fluttered above the Catholic hosts stood in stark contrast to the simple and rough uniforms and armour of their Huguenot foe. Yet the Catholic attack also saw several atrocities towards the new Huguenot preachers that flocked to the previously Catholic domains of the kingdom. Many a Huguenot preacher met his end on the League’s stake.


Catholics execute Huguenots, Auvergne 1593

De la Barthie invaded Auvergne from Spanish Roussillon. There he set up camp, conscripted troops and began to purge all of the reformed converts living within the province. The king’s commander Francois de Bonne led a relief army consisting of 4,000 cuirassiers and the same amount of infantry. As the two armies met, the superior Huguenot cavalry swept down upon the exposed flanks of the Catholic army, routing the noble cavalry and obliterating the League’s infantry tercios by harassing them while the Huguenot infantry superiority caught up. Protestant loses were minimal.


War in Auvergne

Simon de Pontailler led his 6,000 men into Bourgogne from Franche-Comte and laid siege to the city of Dijon. After the message that the incursion from the south had been crushed, Henri led his Royal army against the League himself. On the 3rd of June 1593, the Royal Army arrived outside Dijon which was on the brink of surrendering to the League. The first salvos from the royal artillery broke the spirit of the Catholic cavalry and the large force of Henri quickly utilized the weakness of the Catholic infantry to kill or captured the entire Catholic army. Simon de Pontailler escaped across the border into Franche-Comte and returned from there to the duke of Mayenne in Lorraine.


Defeat of Simon de Pontailler

The last, but largest of the League’s assaults was on the Huguenot stronghold in Anjou. Catholic rebels had joined forces from the three rebellious provinces of Normandy, Othe and Morhiban to form the largest of the armies of the League. It consisted of the crème de la crème of French Catholics trained in Spanish Flanders and heavily armoured cavalry. By November 1593 the League had completely sealed the city of Angers off from the rest of France when Henri IV drove his tired army against the League’s vanguard in a battle outside Tours. Ending in a clear, but not decisive, victory for the Huguenots, the enemy commander Jean-Antoine de Chevigny managed to withdraw and organize his army outside Angers.


First battle outside Tours, Huguenots score a solid victory​

In November 1593 Henri IV decided that his army had recovered enough strength after the battle of Tours and Dijon and bade the army to advance upon the league outside Angers. It was the largest force the League ever fielded against the Huguenots and consisted of many different nationalities. Italian, German and Spanish mercenaries and volunteers fought alongside Catholic Frenchmen against a coalition of Huguenots, Dutch, English, Swiss and Germans. The king commanded the cavalry himself and thanks to his impregnable determination, broke through the League’s mounted troops. His own mounted troops then slammed their way through to the commander of the enemy army, and shot him as he tried to surrender. Without cavalry and commander, the Catholics were effectively robbed of any chance of success. By then the action of 1593 was almost at an end as the surviving soldiers of the League were destroyed as they retreated into Brittany.


Victory of Angers, de Chevigny is killed trying to surrender

How challenging the League's attack had been is open for discussion. Henri had not suffered too heavy casualties and the mercy he showed the captured soldiers of the League cemented him as a man the moderate Catholics would support as their liege. But the drums of war would not fall silent as the year of 1594 began.

[Note] I'm somewhat interested in what the readAARs think of the setup, the setting and the game itself. Too strange, too fantastic?
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Ah the reformation spreads and goes through it's first trial by fire. :cool:

I myself think you have created a very believable alternative history line. Especially your attention to the various factions in France (radical catholics, moderates and protestants) and their affiliation does a lot to explain the political situation within the realm.
Just continue like this! I am most happy with it. :)

~Lord Valentine~
Henri is uber :eek:

nice AAR!
Let's hope the catholics will be docile. I fear Henry may have too kill half the people in Brittany. That might just be what they will need to accept a non-catholic king.
Nice start.
By the way, does anyone knows if there is a way to actually kill half the people in a province as a preemptive strike? (so that there are less revolts, or fewer rebels)
There is no way of committing genocide except attacking natives