Henry IV., when he gave toleration to the Huguenots, never dreamed that his successors would undo his work. Had he foreseen that concession to the unchanged and unchangeable enemies of human freedom would have ended as it did, I believe his noble heart would have revolted from any peace until he could have reigned as a Protestant king. Oh, had he struggled a little longer for his crown, how different might have been the subsequent history of France, and even Europe itself! How much greater would have been his own fame! Even had he died as the defender of Protestant liberties, a greater glory than that of Gustavus would have been his forever. The immediate results of his abjuration were doubtless beneficial to himself, to the Huguenots, and to his country. Expediency gives great rewards; but expediency cannot control future events,—it is short-sighted, and only for the time successful. Ask you for the ultimate results of the abjuration of Henry IV., I point to the demolition of La Rochelle, under Richelieu, and the systematic humiliation of the Huguenots; I point to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by Louis XIV., and the bitter and cruel and wholesale persecution which followed; I point to the atrocities of the dragonnades and the exile of the Huguenots to England and America and Holland; I point to the extinction of civil and religions liberty in France,—to the restoration of the Jesuits,—to the prevalence of religious indifference under the guise of Roman Catholicism, until at last it threw off the mask and defied all authority, both human and divine, and invoked all the maddening passions of Revolution itself.
Histoire de Thou; L’Estoile; Memoires de la Reine Marguerite; Histoire de Henri le Grand, par Madame de Genlis; Memoires de Sully; D’Aubigne; Matthien; Brantome’s Vie de Charles IX.; Henri Martin’s History of France; Mezerai; Perefixe; Sismondi.
THE THIRTY YEARS’ WAR (1618-1648).
The Thirty Years’ War, of which Gustavus Adolphus was the greatest hero, was the result of those religious agitations which the ideas of Luther produced. It was the struggle to secure religious liberty,—a warfare between Catholic and Protestant Germany. It differed from the Huguenot contest in this,—that the Protestants of France took up arms against their king to extort religious privileges; whereas the Protestants of Germany were marshalled by independent princes against other independent princes of a different religion, who sought to suppress Protestantism. In this warfare between Catholic and Protestant States, there were great political entanglements and issues that affected the balance of power in Europe. Hence the Thirty Years’ War was political as well as religious. It was not purely a religious war like the crusades, although religious ideas gave rise to it. Nor was it an insurrection of the people against their rulers to secure religious rights, so much as a contest between Catholic and Protestant princes to secure the recognition of their religious opinions in their respective States.