The Saint Barthelemew (Saint-Barthélémy in french), during the night of the 08/24/1572, was not the royal crime as this night is always presented. In fact, if people believe it, it's because from 1572, the official History said that it was a royal crime, ordered by Charles IX, his mother Catherine de Médicis, and with the influence of the Guise family, french princes very very catholic. Alexandre Dumas in his book "the Queen Margot" ("La Reine Margot"), took again the official version. But in fact, it's was probably a little bit more difficult, and more interesting : - 1572 : France is in the Wars of Religon, between the catholic and the protestant (calvinist) parties, since 1560 (and the Conjuration of Amboise, where the protestant princes tried unsuccesfully to kidnap the young king). But since 1570 and the Peace of Saint-Germain, Catherine de Médicis and Charles IX tried to make a politic of national reconcilation. This peace gave to the protestants several rights, and cities (like la Rochelle), it calm down the crisis. So, why would the king and his mother wanted to kill the protestants, it was not in their political aims. - 1572 : Paris is in a very hot atmoshpere...the summer was one of the hottest of History. All the protestants nobles, lords and princes were in the capital for the wedding of Henri de Navarre (future Henri IV) and Marguerite de Valois (Margot), sister of the King Charles IX. Henri de Navarre is protestant, then his wedding will be an other stone in the building of the reconciliation leaded by the king and his mother. The population of Paris is very catholic. In the churches and cathedrals, the churchmen appealed to the revolt against the protestants. The Parisians feared also the Duke de Montmorency, governor of Paris, and his cavalry, they feared that he launched it in the capital. So, and explosive situation : a catholic city is "invaded" byt the protestant leaders, in a time of tensions. Add to it the fact that Paris is not totally submit to the authority of the King : since the XIVth, each century saw a revolution or an important revolt (from the XIVth to the XXth.). paris has an urban militia, with about 5,000 or 10,000 men, inhabitants of Paris. In Paris and in the Louvres, the royal residence, there are several foreing regiment for the guard of the king, plus the traditional "gardes-françaises" and french regiments. The swiss regiments are here, from catholic regions of Switzerland (Swiss are at the service of the King of France since Marignan, 1515). They don't like protestants. Several regiments, of swiss or not, were visisted by people, and in exchange of money, they said they were ready to action (corruption of the regiments' leading officers...) - 1572 : Spain and France are not at all friends. during all the XVIth, these countries were at war. Spain, with Charles Quint's heritage, hold Spain and Portugal and a part of Italy, Belgium and Netherlands, and a part of Burgundy. In Spain there is the son of Charles Quint, Philippe II. In Netherlands there is the Duke of Alba, Don Fernando Alvarez de Toleda, lieutenant of the King, a fanatic catholic. France wants to make war in Netherlands against Spain. This is the goal of the Amiral de Coligny, a protestants, very loved by the King Charles IX. So, Spain's interests are that Coligny doesn't make war, and that France is in chaos with intern wars. - 1572 : The Guise family, with Henri de Guise, is in Paris. They are Duke of Lorrain. Henri de Guise is the chief of the catholic party, and of the Ligue, ultra catholic organisation. They are agents of Spain, sometimes voluntary, sometimes unvoluntary. Now, action : 2 days before the night, Colingy is the target of an attempt, a "sniper" is hidden in a house belonging to the Guise. The sniper miss his target, Coligny is only wounded and still alive. The Protestants are angry, they believe that the Guise are behind it. What is probably : the Guise ask the King if they can leave Paris, the king say that he will give justice and will punish the authors of the attempt. The Guise take it as a personal threat. So, not a good beginning...Some protestant lords feel it, and ask to Henri de Navarre to escape from Paris. He refused. And then, night of the 08/24/1572 : the protestant leaders are in the Louvres. Coligny is at home. The Ligue's members wanted to kill the protestant leaders, who have at their head Coligny. This one is the first to be executed. In the Louvres, the other protestant leaders are killed by the swiss regiments and the Ligue's members. The population of Paris see it. With the accumulation fo the preachs of their priests and their very catholic faith, they begins to kill the protestant people. 2 days after, the King say it was on his order. But the explanation of this is the following : Spain understood that a civil war will make France weaker. Then, they pay people to organise it. And Spain knew that if Coligny died, the war in Netherlands won't be. So, they organise the massacre of the protestant leaders. But only it. The rest is a "collateral dommage", the Parisians were excited and kill without reason in Paris, but after, also in rest of France. This was not wanted. When the king Charles IX saw that in his palace of the Louvres, his soldiers were killing protestants, he understood. If he says "Stop, let them", he will see the population of Paris marching on the Louvres, and he will lost his throne and his life. If he says "I gave this order", he will keep his throne. So, The royal family said that the king and his mother ordered this massacre. That's why in the official history, the king and his mother are the one who gave the cruel order. To give credits to this idea, very probable and logic, at the dead of Henri de Guise, a letter from Spain and spanish money were founded. So, the Saint Barthelemew is not a royal crime. A roayl lie, yes. But the King never gave the order of the massacre, never said "kill them, kill them all". It's a myth of the History.