Gaspard II. De Coligny

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Gaspard de Coligny, by Jan Anthoniszoon van Ravesteyn
Gaspard de Coligny
Coligny impresses his murderers by Joseph-Benoît Suvée , 1787

Gaspard II. De Coligny , Comte de Coligny, Peer of France , (born February 16, 1519 in Châtillon-sur-Loing , † August 24, 1572 in Paris ) was a French nobleman, admiral and Huguenot leader . He was one of the first victims of St. Bartholomew's Night .


From courtier to admiral

Born as the son of the French Marshal Gaspard I. de Coligny , Comte de Coligny, Seigneur de Châtillon, and his wife Louise de Montmorency - a sister of Anne de Montmorency , Connétable of France from 1538 to 1541 - he received his education from old age of 20 years at the court of the French king Franz I. There he made friends with Franz von Guise and accompanied the king to war with him in 1543.

Before Montmédy and Bains and in Italy he proved his brother François de Coligny d'Andelot such bravery that both on the battlefield of Cerisoles of the Count of Enghien to beat knights were.

He took part in the campaigns against Emperor Charles V in the Netherlands and Italy in 1547, and in 1547 was appointed Colonel général of the infantry. In September 1551 he was appointed governor of Paris and Île-de-France , in November of the following year 1552 he took part on the king's side in the campaign to Lorraine , through which the dioceses of Metz , Toul and Verdun fell to France. He was then appointed Admiral of France.

As such, he is likely to have commissioned the cartographer and “seer of Dieppe” Guillaume Le Testu for a Cosmographie Universelle selon le Navigateurs ( world map with texts and illustrations), into which Le Testu introduced astonishing details in what was supposedly still unexplored Western Australia .

It is not known exactly how far Gaspard Coligny went to sea himself. But Gerald Sammet writes in the standard work Die Welt der Karten: historical and modern cartography in dialogue that he was (later?) A follower of the famous circumnavigator , explorer and navigator Francis Drake .

Hostilities and Huguenot Wars

The victory at the Battle of Renty in 1554 increased his fame but divided him with François de Guise, who claimed victory for himself. The enmity between the two was increased by the fact that the Duke disregarded the Armistice of Vaucelles concluded by Coligny on February 5, 1556 . Despite Coligny's defense, Saint-Quentin fell into enemy hands in 1557, and Coligny himself was captured. Coligny spent the years 1557 to 1559 in Sluis and Ghent in Spanish captivity. After paying a large ransom, he was eventually released.

After the death of King Henry II in 1559, Coligny was persuaded by his brother to convert to Calvinism . He fought in the Huguenot Wars of 1562/1563 and 1567 to 1570 as a general and political head of the Huguenots against the Catholic troops and politically against the influence of the Guise family , but tried to find compromises with King Charles IX.

When the Battle of Dreux (1562), in which Condé , the leader of the Huguenots, was captured, had ended unhappily, Coligny saved the remains of the defeated army by retreating and turned towards Normandy , where he built Pont-l'Évêque and Caen took. Coligny did not approve of the Edict of Amboise (1563) concluded by Condé , and although he was outwardly reconciled with the Guises, the meeting of Queen Katharina with the Duke of Alba made him cautious.

When the court was staying at Montceaux Castle in 1567 , he tried on September 27th to bring it into his power by a sudden attack. The enterprise failed, however, and the war broke out again, in which Coligny commanded the Huguenots alone with Condé and after his death at Jarnac (March 13, 1569). Confident in the justice of his cause, although ostracized by the Paris Parliament, he continued the struggle under the most difficult of circumstances.

Religious peace and assassination attempt

He besieged Poitiers in vain , suffered a defeat in the battle of Moncontour (October 3, 1569) against the Duke of Anjou, brother of the king, and Mathurin I de Rougé, but won in June 1570 over the superior power of Marshal Cossé near Arnay -le-Duc in Burgundy , whereupon the peace of Saint-Germain (August 8, 1570), which was favorable to the Huguenots , was concluded.

In 1571 he tried to set up a joint army of Huguenots and Catholics against the Netherlands. His growing influence on the king led, when, trusting in the king's favor , he came to Paris for the marriage of King Henry of Navarre and Margaret of Valois , the assassination attempt on the Admiral of France on August 22, 1572. The Queen Mother Catherine de Medici and the Guise family initiated the so-called Bartholomew Night two days later : Coligny and the majority of the prominent and influential Huguenots were killed on the night of August 24, 1572. Henry of Navarre, the Duke of Bourbon and later King Henry IV of France, converted to Catholicism that night and thereby saved his life.

At midnight the Duke of Guise entered Coligny's apartment with gunmen. They attacked him while he was reading Calvin's commentary on Job and knocked him down. He was supposed to be thrown out the window, but resisted and was killed. After his head had been chopped off, his body was dragged to the place of execution and hung on the gallows in Montfaucon , following a parliamentary decision. Montmorency had it removed after three days and kept it first in Chantilly and then in Montauban. It was not until 1599, when Coligny's memory had been cleared by royal letters, that he was buried in Châtillon in the crypt of his ancestors.

Marriages and offspring

Gaspard married Charlotte de Laval , daughter of Count Guy XVI , in 1547 . de Laval , in the chapel of the château de Montmuran in what is now the Ille-et-Vilaine department . Charlotte de Laval died in 1568. They had five children:

In his second childless marriage, he married on March 25, 1571 in La Rochelle Jacqueline de Montbel, comtesse d'Entremont et de Nottage (1541–1600).



In Paris, his statue can be seen as part of a memorial to the Huguenot leader who was murdered on Bartholomew's Night on the outside of the choir of the Eglise Réformée de l'Oratoire du Louvre, on Rue de Rivoli. The monument was erected in 1889.

Statue of Gaspard II de Coligny in Paris
Monument for Coligny by Emil von Görtz
Location in front of the Berlin City Palace , whereabouts unknown

A statue of Gaspard de Coligny stands on the Geneva Reformation Monument .

In the 19th century was in Berlin a monument in front of the Berlin City Palace placed on the well to Coligny granddaughter Luise Henriette of Orange was reminded. On October 19, 1912, a statue designed by the Berlin sculptor Martin Wolff was unveiled in front of the naval station building in Wilhelmshaven . The monument was donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II , who was also present at the official inauguration. The statue was melted down during World War II .


The following places were named after him:

Literary processing
Church memorial day

Gaspard de Coligny's memorial day in the Evangelical Name Calendar of the Evangelical Church in Germany is August 23 . Here he is representative of all the victims of St. Bartholomew's Night.


  • Jean-Louis Bourgeon: L'assassinat de Coligny . Geneva 1992. (= Travaux d'histoire éthico-politique 51)
  • Karl Kupisch: Coligny. A historical study . 2nd Edition. Berlin undated
  • Gerald Sammet, Armin Sinnwell: The world of maps: historical and modern cartography in dialogue . Wissen-Media-Verlag, Gütersloh-Munich 2008.

Works on Coligny (Hotman, François and Jean de Serres). La vie de Messire Gaspar de Coligny Seigneur de Chastillon, Amiral de France. Augmentée de quelques annotations, & de plusieurs pièces du temps, servants à l'histoire. 3 sheets, 136, 152, 24 p. 22 × 16.5 cm. Amsterdam (di Geneva), Commelins Heirs, 1643.

Reprint of the edition printed by Abraham Elzevier in Leiden in 1643, which in turn was reprinted in by Th. Jolly in Paris - admittedly incompletely - as Brunet notes on the Paris edition: “Au surplus, ce petit volume (Paris 1656), qu'on paye Sure, n'est que la réimpression incomplète du livre intitulé La Vie de messire Gaspard de Coligny… Amsterdam, Commelin, 1643. Ce dernier se donne à très-bas prix. ”- Today the Geneva edition is rarer than the Leyden and only available in a few libraries.

Individual evidence

  1. See website Huguenot Museum

Web links

Commons : Gaspard II. De Coligny  - Collection of images, videos and audio files