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France During the Huguenot Wars

1598; Henri IV can at last call himself king of France. The country was still plagued by brigands to whom warfare has become a way of life, and the religious quarrels were bound to persist, but he has at last brought the long agony of France to an end.

He had done it by diplomacy - his acceptance of the Catholic faith after being the champion of Protestantism for so long was a masterstroke. And he had done it on the battlefield, repelling the Spaniards and quelling the secessionist revolt in Brittany.

He also won back the support of the Huguenots which he lost when he declared "Paris is worth a Mass". In April he signed the 'perpetual and irrevocable' Edict of Nantes which granted Protestants freedom of conscience throughout the kingdom. The edict also restored their old places of worship to them and granted them permission to build new ones. They had equal civic rights with the Catholics and were allowed access to all public posts.

A full amnesty was granted to all those who took up arms during the wars of religion, and 100 towns were assigned to the Huguenots as "towns of refuge'.

The terms of the edict did not please many Catholics, but such was the war-weariness in France that they accepted the edict in return for peace. The following month the ailing King Philip of Spain signed the peace of Vervins and his army marched home. France truly belonged to Henri IV.

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Map, Huguenot Wars of France