Charles IX (France)

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Charles IX of France, portrait after a painting by François Clouet
Signature Karl IX.  (France) .PNG

Charles IX (* June 27, 1550 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye ; † May 30, 1574 in Vincennes Castle ), Duke of Orleans from October 24, 1550 to December 5, 1560, was King of France from December 5, 1560 to his death on October 24, 1574. His reign was dominated by civil wars and the notorious massacre of French Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Night .


Charles was the third son of Henry II of France from the House of Valois-Angoulême and his wife Catherine de Medici . He succeeded his brother Franz II on the throne on December 5, 1560, initially under the tutelage of his mother. Under his older brother Francis II, the Catholic Duke Francis I of Guise had dominated French politics, whose niece Maria Stuart was the king's wife. In order to limit the power of the Guises , the Queen Mother, as regent, strengthened the power of the Protestant branch line of the royal family, the Bourbons , the highest-ranking French noble dynasty (after the Valois themselves). Katharina prepared a moderate religious edict of tolerance. Franz von Guise responded with the Vassy massacre of the Huguenots that he organized , which led to the First Huguenot War 1562–1563. In the Edict of Amboise (April 1563) the king granted the Huguenots non-public religious freedom outside the cities (thereby breaking with the repressive religious policy of his predecessors).

Second and Third Huguenot Wars

King Charles IX from France

In August 1563, Katharina had the Parlement of Rouen declare her son to be of age. In the following years (April 1564 – January 1566) she traveled with the young king through southern France, but missed her goal of uniting France behind her son. A dynastic meeting with her daughter Elisabeth von Valois, who was married to Philip II in Spain, traumatized the Huguenots again under their military leader Admiral de Coligny .

Mother and son were unable to counter the activities of Cardinal Charles of Lorraine , brother of Francis I von Guise. The Huguenots suspected an anti-Protestant plot and reacted with the Second Huguenot War 1567–1568, in which they also used Protestant foreign troops. When Ludwig von Nassau had withdrawn from the Netherlands, he found with Karl IX. Refuge. He tried Charles IX. move to intervene in the Netherlands; the Queen Mother prevented that. After the Third Huguenot War 1568–1570, the Edict of Amboise was roughly confirmed in the Peace of St. Germain-en-Laye.

In 1570 Charles IX married. Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria . The marriage had a daughter ( Marie-Elisabeth , 1572–1578). From his mistress, Marie Touchet , he had a son, Charles (1573–1650), Duke of Angoulême.

Bartholomew Night and Fourth Huguenot War

Charles IX

The Protestant military leader Gaspard II. De Coligny, seigneur de Châtillon , Count of Coligny and Admiral of France , advocated a policy that would liberate the United Netherlands from Spanish rule, win religious freedom for fellow believers in the Netherlands and give up the Spanish-Portuguese monopoly Should break colonies in America. He won the support of the young king for this program, who - unstable in character and poor health - wanted to finally break away from his mother's dominance. A defensive alliance with England was also envisaged. Domestically, Admiral Coligny wanted to establish the Huguenots as the party that most consistently represented French national interests. The national reconciliation was finally to be sealed with the marriage between Margaret of Valois ( Margot ), the king's sister, and the 18-year-old Henry of Navarra from the Protestant house of Bourbon, who later became Henry IV of France .

Admiral de Coligny was very intimate with the king, and the direction of French politics seemed to fall to him. This alarmed the Queen Mother, who saw her influence on the son endangered. During the wedding celebrations in August 1572, an assassination attempt on Coligny, which Katharina or the Guisen had commissioned, failed. Her son visited de Coligny and promised full explanation. His mother persuaded him, however, that the Huguenots were planning an attempt at revenge against him, the king. Thereupon he had the leaders of the Huguenots who flocked to Paris for the wedding - his friend Coligny included - butchered on Bartholomew's Night. The massacres spread to other cities and thousands of Huguenots lost their lives.

This decimation did not, as Catherine had hoped, decisively weaken the Huguenot party; on the contrary, the old hatred between Catholics and Protestants revived and sparked renewed hostilities.

Karl publicly approved the act through a lit de justice . But the blood orgy left the young king trauma for the remaining two years of his life. He became increasingly depressed and his - already weak - health no longer offered any resistance to consumption . He passed away at the age of only 23.

He was buried in the tomb of the French kings, the cathedral of Saint-Denis . When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , his tomb was opened and looted on October 18, 1793, and his remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church. During the restoration after 1815, all remaining remains were exhumed in the mass grave. Since it was no longer possible to precisely assign them to the individual individuals, they were buried in a common ossuary in the cathedral's crypt.

Literary estate

Charles IX a poem is attributed, the authorship of which is, however, controversial. In it he addresses Pierre de Ronsard , who was among other things his court poet. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer translated the poem into German three centuries later in a corresponding formulation.

Autres vers du roy Charles IX
A Ronsard
"Ton esprit est, Ronsard, plus gaillard que le mien;
Mais mon corps est plus jeune et plus fort que le tien;
Par ainsi je conclus qu'en savoir tu me passe
D'autant que mon printemps tes cheveux gris efface.
L'art de faire des vers, dût-on s'en indigner,
Doit être à plus haut prix que celui de régner.Tous
deux également nous portons des couronnes
Mais, roi, je la reçus; poète, tu la donnes.
Ton esprit enflammé d'une céleste ardeur
Éclate par soi-même, et moi par ma grandeur.
Si du côté des Dieux je cherche l'avantage,
Ronsard est leur mignon et je suis leur image.
Ta lyre, qui ravit par de si doux accords,
Te soumet les esprits dont je n'ai que les corps;
Elle s'en rend le maître et te fait introduire
Où le plus fier tyran n'a jamais eu d'empire,
Elle amollit les coeurs et soumet la beauté:
Je puis donner la mort, toi l'immortalité. "

Charles IX to Ronsard

“I am the Lord and Master
The bodies, you the spirits,
yours is the greater power;
With your singing you can
penetrate into all souls
and subdue a mind.
The tyrant's laughs.

We both wear crowns.
My jewelery is borrowed for a lifetime
The king's bold striving
can you
give eternal life, the green laurel, which is
imperishable. "


Charles de Valois Hzg. Of Angoulême (1459–1496)
Francis I , King of France (1494–1547)
Luise of Savoy (1476–1531)
Henry II King of France (1519–1559),
Louis XII. King of France (1462-1515)
Claude de France (1499-1524)
Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514)
Charles IX King of France
Piero di Lorenzo de 'Medici (1472–1503)
Lorenzo di Piero de 'Medici (1492-1519)
Alfonsina Orsini (1472–1520)
Caterina de 'Medici (1519–1589)
Jean III d'Auvergne (d. 1501)
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne (1495–1519)
Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendôme


With Elisabeth of Austria :

With Marie Touchet :

  • Charles , Duke of Angoulême (1573–1650)

Succession to the throne

Charles IX had been married to Elisabeth of Austria , a daughter of Maximilian II , since 1570 , but the marriage had no son. So after his early death in 1574 he was followed by his brother Heinrich III. who preferred the French crown to the Polish crown.


  • Robert Knecht: The Valois Kings of France 1328–1589. London 2004.
  • Robert Knecht: The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France. Oxford / Malden 2001.

Web links

Commons : Charles IX. (France)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Title of the eldest brother of the reigning king. He succeeded his older brother Ludwig III, who died early. Duke of Orléans
  2. He succeeded his eldest brother, King Franz II.
  3. Miroslav Marek, Genealogy.EU [1]
  4. Quotation from Oeuvres complètes de Piere de Ronsard , ed. v. Prosper Blanchemain. Vol. 3, Paris 1858, p. 258 (orthography modernized)
  5. CF Meyer, Complete Works , ed. v. Hans Zeller u. Alfred Zech, Vol. 6, Bern 1988, p. 300 (No. 451).
predecessor Office successor
Francis II King of France 1560–1574
France modern.svg
Henry III.