The Coup of Meaux
On the 28th of September 1567, Huguenots led by Louis I, Prince de Conde fearful for the lives of their their fellow brethen breached the Chateau de Montceaux under the pretext of protecting the kind from Italians. Louis succeeded in capturing Charles IX and his mother Catherine de Medici, though they almost got away.Louis then forced Charles to accept his "protection" in exchange for an increase in the rights and privledges granted to the Huguenots in the edict of Meaux. Charles was placed under house arrest at the Chateau while his mother was moved to Vendome.
Word spread quickly of the events that had transpired at Montceau. Violence broke out in Paris, Orange, Rouen, and other major cities as Catholic mobs assaulted the Huguenot communities living there. Towns such as La Rochelle declared allegiance to the Huguenots and took up arms while the moderate catholics remained on the sidelines and largely incapacitated without concrete leadership.
The Second French War of Religion and The Dutch war of Independence
The Conflict Begins
Following the capture of Charles, fighting between the catholics and Protestants broke out again. Under the leadership of Anne de Montmorency, the catholics laid siege to La Rochelle and Meaux which had become the two strongest Protestant strongholds in France. In southern cities like Nimes catholic priests and prominent members of society wererounded up and murdered in retaliation for the attacks on protestants in northern and central France.
Both the Catholics and the Huguenots lacked the funds and men necessary to carry out a prolonged was. The siege of Meaux was ultimately lifted after 2 months, with Anne falling back to Paris. Charles under duress issued the Edict of Meaux which reaffirmed the ealier Edict of Saint-Germain, and gave the protestants the formal right to maintain arms outside of the crown's control. The edict infuriated the catholic forces and nearly brought both sides to blows again in January 1568.
Despite these new concessions and control over the young king, the Huguenots were outnumbered and in an increasingly precarious situation as Anne and the house of Guise built up their forces and flirted with the spanish court to gain the support of Felipe II of Spain. Felipe agreed to help the catholic forces since he wanted to eradicate the protestants once and for all and destroy a potential ally for the dutch protestants who had rising up in arms against him.
Throughout the spring of 1568 Conde put together a powerful army in Southern and Central France,and sent requests for aid to the English and to WIlliam the SIlent in the Lowlands. In response to Felipe's decision to aid the Catholics, both William van Oranje and Elizabeth I of England agreed to assist Louis to counter Spanish power. The German Wolfgang Count Palatine who was a calvinist himself promised to support Conde's forces. In september 1568 fighting had started up again as the Huguenots fearful of encroachment laid siege to the catholic cities in Poitou and Saintonge to secure safe passage from Navarre the centre of power for the Southern Calvinists and La Rochelle. From the North a Dutch army lead by William the Silent marched into France to relieve the pressure that Meaux was facing following the outbreak of hostilities.