Saint Bartholomew, Massacre of, the slaughter of Huguenots in France on St. Bartholomew's day (Aug. 24), 1572. It is maintained on the one hand that it Was the result of a plot laid long beforehand to annihilate the Huguenots, in which religion had the prominent part; on the other, that it was a sudden outbreak, arising wholly from political motives. A desperate struggle had for many years been waged in France between the Catholics and the Huguenots, in which both parties committed numerous outrages. It took finally the form of a conflict between the houses of Guise and Conde. The feeble Chark-s IX. was now king, his mother Catharine de' Medici being the real sovereign. It being certain that neither Charles nor his brother Henry would have children, Henry of Navarre, afterward Henry IV., was the next heir to the throne. He was by birth and education a Protestant, and had distinguished himself in war. In 1570 a peace had been patched up between the parties, which was to be rendered more secure by the marriage of Henry with Margaret of Valois, the sister of the king.
August 18, 1572, was fixed upon for the wedding, and many of the principal Huguenots were gathered in Paris. On the 22d Admiral Coligni, one of the foremost Huguenots, was fired upon by an assassin named De Maurevel, known to have been a creature of Catharine, who was jealous of the influence which the admiral had acquired over the king. It has been maintained by many that the marriage between Henry and Margaret was a scheme intended only to collect the Huguenot leaders in Paris in order that they might all be put to death at once, and that the assassination of the admiral was to be the signal for a general massacre. Coligni was not killed, but severely wounded. The king visited him, and swore that the assassin should be punished. The Huguenots were alarmed, and uttered violent threats. Catharine persuaded her son that they were on the point of massacring the Catholics, and that the only thing to be done was to anticipate them. At her urgency, Charles in the night of the 23d gave an order for a general massacre of the Huguenots, the signal to be the tolling of the matin hell of St. Germain l'Auxerrois. The execution of this measure was intrusted to the duke of Guise and the Italian guards of the palace, supported by the companies of the burghers.
Orders were also sent to all the principal provincial cities, directing a simultaneous massacre throughout France. It is said that the king was reluctant to give these orders, and that at the last moment he countermanded them; but the duke of Guise, to whom the counter-order was given, replied that it was too late, and mounting his horse rode off toward the hotel of Coligni, for the completion of the murder of the admiral was the first step to be taken. A band of assassins burst int.. his apartment, ran him through the body, and flung the corpse from the window into the street, where the duke of Guise was waiting on horseback. He dismounted and wiped the blood from the face of the victim in order to be sure that there had been no mistake as to the person. .At 4 o'clock in the morning the signal was given, and the general massacre commenced. It is said that Charles, with his brother Henry of Anjou and their mother, was at the time in the tennis court; that he was at first overcome with horror, but soon began himself to fire from the windows of the Louvre. But this statement rests upon insufficient authority, and is inconsistent with his conduct before and after.
He died 21 months after the massacre, not without suspicions of having been poisoned by his mother and brother, although the Huguenots ascribed his death to the direct visitation of God. His agony of mind and body was extreme. He "sweat blood," say credible historians, "from every pore," and died exclaiming, "Oh, how much blood! how many assassinations! Oh, what evil counsels have I followed! O Lord God, pardon me, and have mercy upon me! " The slaughter in Paris lasted for several days. Conde and Henry of Navarre escaped by attending mass, and pretending to become Catholics; but most of the Huguenots gathered in Paris were killed. But the slaughter was not confined to them. Many who had grudges to avenge, or something to gain by the death of others, took occasion to gratify their malice or cupidity. The orders for the massacre were executed in nearly all the cities and towns of France where Huguenots were to be found as speedily as they could be received from Paris. It occurred at Meaux on Aug. 25; at La Charite on the 26th; at Orleans on the 27th; at Saumur and Angers on the 29th; at Lyons on the 30th; at Troyes on Sept. 2; at Bourges on the 11th; at Rouen on the 17th; at Toulouse on the 23d; at Romans on the 30th; at Bordeaux on Oct. 3. Many districts and towns, however, were spared, generally through the opposition of their governors or local authorities.
The number of persons put to death in all France is variously stated at 100,000 to 1,500. The former number is doubtless much too great; the latter much too small. The estimate of De Thou, 20,000, is probably near the truth. - The subsequent conduct of the French government throws considerable light upon the origin of the massacre. Lingard states it as follows: "The bloody tragedy had been planned and executed at Paris with so much expedition that its authors had not determined on what ground to justify or palliate their conduct. In the letters written the same evening to the governors of the provinces and to the ambassadors at foreign courts it was attributed to the ancient quarrel and insatiate hatred which existed between the princes of Lorraine and the house of Coligni. But as the duke of Guise refused to take the infamy on himself, the king was obliged to acknowledge in parliament that he had signed the order for the death of the admiral, and sent in consequence to his ambassadors new and more detailed instructions.
La Motte Femelon, the ambassador to England, assured Elizabeth that Charles had conceived no idea of such an event before the preceding evening, when he learned with surprise and astonishment that the confidential advisers of the admiral had formed a plan to avenge the attempt made on his life by surprising the Louvre, making prisoners of the royal family, and putting to death the duke of Guise and the leaders of the Catholics; that the plot was revealed by one of the council whose conscience revolted from such a crime; that his deposition was confirmed in the mind of the king by the violent and un-dutiful expressions uttered by Coligni in the royal presence; that having but the interval of a few hours to deliberate, he had hastily given permission to the duke of Guise and his friends to execute justice on his and their friends; and that if, from the excited passions of the populace, some innocent persons had perished with the guilty, it has been done contrary to his intention, and has given him the most heartfelt sorrow." The balance of evidence evinces that the original plan, formed by Catharine de' Medici and the duke of Guise, was simply to disorganize the Huguenot party by the murder of Coligni, their recognized leader; that the partial failure of this threw the court into alarm, and the weak king, persuaded that his person was in danger, consented to issue the order for the massacre, which, as expressed by Lingard, "was not originally contemplated, but grew out of the unexpected failure of the attempt already made upon the life of the admiral." - A grave question has arisen as to the supposed complicity of the papal court in the massacre.
The despatches of the papal nuncio at Paris seem to set this question at rest. On the very day of the massacre he wrote to the cardinal secretary at Rome an account of the matter. A month later (Sept. 22), in reply to inquiries for more detailed information, he wrote: "The queen regent, having become jealous of the admiral, came to the resolution a few days before, and caused the arquebuse to be discharged at him without the knowledge of the king, but with the participation of the duke of Anjou, and of the duchess of Nemours, and of her son the duke of Guise. Had he died immediately, no one else would have perished. But he did not die, and they began to expect some great evil; wherefore, closeting themselves in consultation with the king, they determined to throw shame aside, and to cause him to be assassinated with the others; a determination which was carried into execution that very night." This account was contained in a cipher despatch from the nuncio at Paris to the government at Rome, which would hardly have asked information about a conspiracy in which they had borne a part; and the nuncio, in a secret despatch, would hardly have spoken in terms of such condemnation of a plot in which his superiors were implicated.
These secret despatches were first published almost two centuries after. A solemn Te Deum over the event was sung at Rome by the order of Pope Gregory XIII.; but it must be borne in mind that according to the accounts then at hand, the affair grew out of an unsuccessful conspiracy against the French government and the Catholic church; and the TeDeum belonged to the same category with the one sung shortly before for the victory gained at Lepanto over the Turks. - Nuth-dorf, a German student who professed to have been an eye witness of the massacre, left a narrative of it in Latin, which has been recently discovered in France, and is said to be in course of publication (1872).
Saint Bartholomew, an island in the N. E. angle of the West Indian archipelago, about 25 m. N. of St. Christopher; area, 8 sq. m.; extreme length 6 m., greatest breadth 3 m.; pop. about 2,900, chiefly colored. The shores are deeply indented; the surface consists of barren hills and fertile valleys, yielding fruit, vegetables, sugar, cotton, and tobacco. The highest point, 992 ft., is near the E. end. Fuel and water are scarce. The climate is warm but healthful, owing to the trade wind. Gustavia, the capital, is on an arm of the sea opening into a bight on the S. W. side; it is a free port, but the harbor is too shallow to admit large vessels. The island was settled by the French in 1648, and finally came into the possession of Sweden in 1785. It is the only Swedish colony in the West Indies.