Paris 1547-1589 PDF Print E-mail

The History of Paris – Architecture, Urbanism, Society - Part 1:

Late Medieval and Renaissance Paris: From François I to Henri III.

Course Schedule:  Fridays 10:30 am – 12:00 noon.

Coffee and tea served at gallery sessions between 10:00 and 10:30am.

12 March  – Gallery – Paris at the dawn of the Renaissance: the Gothic heritage and François I.

19 March  – Visit– Hôtel de Cluny – 6, place Paul Painlevé 75005. Métros: Cluny-La Sorbonne, St Michel, Odéon.

                                                                     Meet in courtyard 10h15 am. Ticket is 8€50.

26 March  – Gallery –Renaissance Paris: Henri II, Catherine de Medici and the Wars of Religion.

2   April     – Visit – The Louvre and Saint Germain L’Auxerrois.  Meet by information desk beneath Pyramid with ticket in hand at 10:15 am. Métro: Palais-Royal Louvre.

9   April    – Visit – Saint Eustache and Les Halles district. Meet place René Cassin (rue Rambuteau) 75001,

in front of church of St Eustache. Métros: Les Halles, Chatelet.

16 April    – Visit – The Marais, residential and aristocratic architecture. Meet exit Métro: Pont-Marie (line 7).



Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France 1500-1700, Pelican History of Art, Penguin (latest edition).

Anthony Sutcliffe, Paris, an Architectural History, Yale University Press, 1993.

Colin Jones, Paris, Biography of a City, Penguin.


French Renaissance Chronology II – Royal Reigns


Henri II (1519-1559)  - Reign: 1547-1559

1547 – Henri, second son of François I succeeds his father. At 7 he had been given as a hostage to the Spanish to ensure his father’s liberation. Released at the age of 10 he was educated by Diane de Poitiers who will later become his mistress. He was married to Catherine de Medici without much enthusiasm in 1533. At the death of this older brother François in 1536 he became the Dauphin. His principal advisors, the Montmorencys and the Guise encourage his hostility to the Empire and the Protestants in France.

1548 – Arrival of Mary Stuart in France to marry the Dauphin François (the wedding will take place in 1558).

1551 – Intensification of anti-Protestant campaign by the creation of “chambres ardentes”, religious courts of law.

1553 – Beginning of hostilities with the Empire and later England.

1559 – The Cateau-Cambresis treaty brings the war to an end. France renounces on her Italian possessions and pretensions.

The king is gravely wounded in the eye in a tournament organized in honor of his daughters Elisabeth, betrothed to Philip II of Spain, and Marguerite, betrothed to the Duke of Savoy. He dies two days later.


François II (1544-1560)  - Reign: 1559 -1560

1559 – François II succeeds his father at the age of 15. His wife is Mary Stuart, 16. Government is assumed by his mother Catherine, the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duc de Guise. The Bourbons, Louis de Condé and Antoine de Bourbon, who are royal cousins and had a legitimate right to assume the regency are removed from power.

1560 – The Bourbons form an alliance against Catherine and Guise with the Protestants under the leadership of the Colignys. Condé is arrested and condemned to death but saved by the King’s sudden death from an infection.


Charles IX (1550-1574)  - Reign: 1560-1574

1560 – Charles is merely 10 at the death of his older brother. He is an overly sensitive and sickly child.

1561 – His mother Catherine attributes to herself the regency in opposition to existing custom.

1562 – First massacre of Protestants instigated by the Duc de Guise causes first “War of Religion”. Condé and Coligny seek English help.

1563 – The assassination of the Duc de Guise exacerbates the situation. Catherine succeeds in establishing a 4-year truce and tries to guarantee free worship for both religions.

1564 – The court travels though the country for 2 years presenting the King to his subjects, trying to establish his prestige.

1567 – Protestants resume hostilities.

1569 – They are defeated by Henri, duc d’Anjou the King’s younger brother in Jarnac.

1570 – The edict of Saint-Germain puts an end to civil war by guaranteeing the security of the Protestants in recognized bases like La Rochelle. Marguerite, the King’s sister, is also to wed the Calvinist Bourbon leader Henri de Navarre. The King marries Elizabeth of Austria daughter of Emperor Maximilian II. She will bear him a daughter who dies at the age of 5.

1572 – Wedding of Henri de Navarre and Marguerite de Valois on 18 August. Attempt on the life of the Protestant leader Coligny secretly ordered by Catherine and her son Henri fails. Fearing conspiracy will be revealed Catherine persuades Charles to order a general massacre of the Protestants gathered in Paris for the wedding. On 24 August is held the “St Bartholomew massacre”.

1574 – Racked by guilt and illness Charles IX dies of tuberculosis. His only son is illegitimate, child of his mistress Marie Touchet,

he will become the duc d’Angoulême.







Henri III (1551-1589)  - Reign: 1574 -1589

1574 – At the death of his brother François, Henri is in Poland where he was elected King by the Polish nobility in 1573. Upon learning his brother’s death he abandons his new kingdom and immediately returns to France.

1575 – Marries Louis de Lorraine duchess of Berry.

1576 – Peace with the Protestants: the government disavows the St Bartholomew massacre and establishes total freedom of worship for all. In reaction the Catholics form a militant  “League”.

1577 – Henri reacts by disavowing the Protestants and then changing around all over again.

1584 – Death of François d’Alençon Catherine’s last and youngest son opens a dynastic crisis for the childless Henri. The Catholic

League rebels putting forward the candidacy to the succession of its own champion, Henri de Guise, with the support of Philip II

of Spain.

1588 – Henri de Guise enters Paris, the King flees. The two Guise brothers Henri and the cardinal de Lorainne will, however, be assassinated in Blois putting an end to Guise power.

1589 – Death of Catherine de Medicis in Blois in January. In alliance, now, with his Protestant cousin Henri de Navarre, Henri III lays siege to Paris. The King is knifed by a fanatical monk on 1 August in St Cloud. Before his death he designates Henri de Navarre as his successor.


The  Medieval and Renaissance Louvre


The origin of the name of the medieval fortress remains a mystery. Some etymologists have traced it to the old word for “wolf”, “lupara” in Latin and “lovre” in French, connecting the site to the royal hunt, or even the Saxon word, “lower” for a fortress.

1190 - Philippe Auguste orders the erection of a wall to protect his capital before his departure for the Crusades.

1202 – First reference to the existence of a fortress on the west side of the Philippe Auguste wall. This is square shaped, surrounded by a deep moat, with towers on the corners and on each side of the gates on the outside perimeter, and a large central cylindrical keep, 15m wide in the center. The fortress is used as a prison.

1358 – The Louvre is absorbed by the city with the expansion of the suburbs and the erection of a second outer wall further to the west, by Charles V. The King begins using the Louvre as an official residence along with Vincennes and the hotel Saint-Paul in the Marais.

His architect, Raymond du Temple, raises the original ceilings and adds two blocks and a large spiral staircase to the new lodgings. Statues of the royal family, tapestries, mural paintings and the King’s library are added, new windows are opened, a magnificent new chapel is built.

1528 – François I orders the demolition of the old keep in the center of the Louvre, creating the first paved courtyard. The prison is abolished but the royal treasure is still kept in the old fortress until 1572.

1540 – The Louvre is renovated for the official visit to Paris of the Emperor Charles V.

1546 – The architect Pierre Lescot is ordered to replace the west side of the fortress with a new, wider wing. This is to house the great hall in which the entire court can magnificently be gathered. The new wing uses purely classical elements, a three storey symmetrical composition, uniform windows, Roman arches, columns, entablatures, the Corinthian and Composite orders and antique statuary and carved decorations by the workshop of Jean Goujon. The roof is cut at the top and set back emphasizing instead the stone front. It is the first of its kind in French architecture.

1547 – François I dies. Work continues under Henri II and Charles IX. On the north side of the great hall is erected a tribune for musicians supported by four antique caryatids. A corner block is erected between the west and new south wing, which contains the royal apartments facing the Seine. On the north and east the medieval wings remain.

1564 – 72 – Catherine de Medicis orders the erection of a summer palace outside the Charles V wall, west of the city. This will be called after a pre-existing tile factory, the Tuileries. The architect is Philibert Delorme, succeeded by Jean Bullant. For reasons still obscure Catherine decides to retire to an urban palace near les Halles and the Tuileries will never be inhabited or totally finished.

1566 – A narrow gallery (petite galerie) is begun leading south to the river on the Louvre.

1572 – Protestant noblemen will be massacred inside the building and in the courtyard on the night of St Bartholomew, 23 August.


Saint Germain l’Auxerrois


A Merovingian chapel on the site was destroyed by invading Normans at the end of the 9c. It was rebuilt by Robert the Pious in the 10c. The growth of the parish in the 13c leads to the expansion of the original church. In the 14c the installation of the King and his court at the Louvre makes St Germain the royal parish church. In 1572 on 24 August at 4am the bell is rung as a signal to the beginning of the St Bartholomew massacre.

The nave, aisles and the west porch date from the 15c and belong to the late Gothic style. The jubé was destroyed in 1754. The Entombment and the Four Evangelists by Jean Goujon at its base are in the collections of the Louvre.


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