on 9 August 2013
Excellent overview of a very turbulent time. In only 200-odd pages (small print, but still...) Holt manages to guide the reader through a multitude of religious wars, murder and pillage, from the accidental death of Henry II in a duel to massacre of St. Bartholomew's night, the murder of the Guises, then the murder of Henry III, then that of Henri IV......Although the book is clearly meant for an academic audience, it is well written and as such still digestible for the lay reader such as myself. It provides a very good, fair and balanced overview and certainly encouraged me to read further into this subject.
on 7 February 2016
With 'The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629' , not only does Mack P. Holt provide a comprehensive overview of the period in a relatively concise book, but he also succeeds in bringing fresh ideas on a number of aspects of the topic.
A good example of that is Mr Holt's analysis of the catholic faith as a key legitimizing element of France's sixteenth-century monarchy, hence the fact that protestantism was seen by many as a direct challenge to the French king's authority. Therefore, one shall bear in mind that political power, not only religious intolerance, provided the grounds for the conflict between catholics and protestants.
Another example is the way Mr Holt deals with the well-known Edict of Nantes (1598). Here again, the author adopts an original view challenging the notion that the Edict effectively opened an era of full-scale religious tolerance within the French kingdom. Mr Holt demonstrates that the Edict was rather designed to establish a provisional compromise to put an end to the ongoing civil wars, without giving up the principle of primacy, if not exclusivity of the catholic faith in France in the longer term.
on 25 September 2015
Buying books on line can be problematic. I searched for a book on the French Religious Wars and this one seemed to fit the bill. It would have been helpful to have flicked through the pages before buying as this one of a series of academic volumes from CUP and, furthermore, the reviews on the back page were all from academic journals.
Before I receive another slap on the wrist for appearing to use the word 'academic' in a negative sense, I will stress that I mean a book that is more suitable for a university library than a general reader's shelf and one where the writer assumes the reader knows the subject already and sets out to discuss or elaborate and which is thus unintelligible to the general reader.. However Professor Holt gives us a clue on the back page: '... created specifically for undergraduates and the general readers with no background knowledge of either French history or the Reformation.'
And he succeeds superbly: the book is a very well written narrative of the dreadful events of the Religious Wars and the final chapter discusses and explains of why this religious upheaval occurred only in France, the effects of the wars on the people etc. The book begins with a helpful chronology of events from the time Luther, that is well before the events described in the main narrative, until the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The main narrative contains helpful maps and diagrams and is followed by a series of brief biographies of the principal characters, which is very helpful as inherited and given titles can lead to confusion. Yes, there are references but these do not disrupt the flow of the narrative.Finally, before the index, there is a bibliography of general works and those on specific topics.
This is a fairly short book - less than 250 - but Professor Holt succeeds in dealing with the subject in more than adequate depth. Highly recommended.