St Bartholomew's Day Massacre
QUEEN ELIZABETH I
France experienced a troubled time during the reign of Elizabeth. In 1559 it seemed that France was on the verge of rivalling Spain as the dominant power. When Henry II died in a jousting accident, his son, Francis, became King. He was the husband of the young Mary, already Queen of Scots. Thus Mary was Queen of Scotland and of France. This was a considerable danger to Queen Elizabeth. Mary claimed to be Queen of England, and England was vulnerable to an attack/invasion from both France and Scotland. However, this never happened as Scotland itself was a troubled land. Mary's mother, Mary of Guise, was regent of Scotland in Mary's absence, and she faced considerable opposition to her regency from the Protestant lords of the land. The French also had internal conflicts of their own that did not allow them to invest their resources into an invasion of England.
King Francis and Queen Mary
Francis died not long after becoming king and Mary was once again only Queen of Scotland. Her mother in law, Catherine de Medici, was hostile to her and Mary returned to Scotland. The French "wars of religion" plagued the country in the last half of the sixteenth century. France was officially Catholic, but there were many Protestants in the country who wanted the freedom to worship their own way. These were called Hugeunots. The conflict resulted in a brutal massacre of Hugeunots in 1572, the Massacre of St Bartholomew's Day. It was said that six thousand or more men, women, and children, were butchered to death on the streets of Paris until the roads ran with their blood. This act of brutality sent shock waves throughout Europe and Queen Elizabeth cancelled negotiations for the hand of King Charles's brother, Francis, Duke of Alencon.
Despite the problems in France, Queen Elizabeth was keen to foster an alliance with the French in order to protect England from the might of Spain. When the horror of the Protestant Massacre began to recede into history, negotiations were again made for Francis's hand. He was considered the most suitable candidate for Elizabeth's hand, despite being young enough to be her son, as he was known to have Protestant sympathies. When he became next in line to the throne, following the death of his brother, Charles, and the accession of Henry III, the marriage became even more appealing. But there was much opposition to the Queen marrying a French Catholic in England, and, perhaps for political reasons, the marriage never went ahead.
King Henry IV
France experienced more trouble with the death of Henry III. Francis was dead having died of a fever, and there was no direct heir. Henry of Navarre was recognized by many to be the rightful King, but he was a Protestant. French Catholics set up a counter King and it was only by becoming a Catholic, deeming "Paris to be worth a mass", that Henry was finally accepted as King Henry IV of France. He was assassinated in 1610.