Popular Revolts in Normandy

The popular revolts of 1578-79 and 1586-89 in Normandy were triggered by an unruly military presence and the high level of royal fiscal exactions. Joan Davies shows how the revolts were exploited by the nobility in their struggle with Henri III, who met the threat thus posed with force.

How can the popular revolts during the French Civil Wars of the sixteenth century best be understood? Has the emphasis on religion served to underestimate the link between popular discontents of the sixteenth century and those of the seventeenth? Were the risings spontaneous challenges to royal policies, resisting the presence of troops the burdens of war fiscality, the toleration or repression of Protestantism? Were they inspired by nobles ready to use religion or other sources of grievances to furnish themselves with a following? If not instigated by the nobility, could popular movements be captured by them? There may well be as many answers as questions and it is obvious the more research is needed. Nonetheless, an examination of two risings in Normandy, in 1578–9 and 1586–9, does shed some light on these problems as well as focusing attention on Henri III's apparently almost congenital inability to pacify his kingdom.

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