Treaty of Nemours

Articles of the Treaty of Nemours (or Treaty of Saint-Maur) were agreed upon in writing and signed in Nemours on July 7, 1585 between the Queen Mother, Catherine de' Medici, and representatives of the House of Guise. Several days later, the treaty was signed at Saint-Maur between King Henry III of France and the leader of the Catholic League, Henri, duc de Guise. The king, specifically, was pressured by members of the Catholic League to sign the accord, which was recognized by contemporaries as a renewal of the old Wars of Religion in France.


The treaty cancelled all previous edicts, dismissed all Huguenots from official office and forced the King to capitulate to the demands of the Catholic League. Moreover, the duc de Guise was given Chalons as a security. As a result, the entire north-eastern half of France was directly controlled by the House of Guise. Moreover, the Guises were promised significant subsidies to recompense all of their expenses. Henri bluntly told Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon that the overall accord would bring chaos and ruin to France. Yet, the king signed the treaty in his attempts to disempower Guise and become leader of the Catholic League himself. On July 18, he went in person to the Parlement of Paris to hold a lit de justice and force the Parlement to enregister the terms of the treaty, giving them the effect of law, as well as royal prerogative.

On July 19, the Catholic League promulgated their version of the edict, reinforcing the effects of the Treaty of Nemours. Based on the terms of the accord, all previous edicts granting religious and political concessions to the Huguenots were revoked. In short, the accord forbade the practice of all religions except Roman Catholicism in France. "Heretics" were not permitted to attain public office and ministers from other religions were banned. All subjects had to convert to Catholicism or risk being expelled from France.


It is said that when the news of the treaty reached Henri, King of Navarre, one-half of his moustache turned white. However, such a tale pales in comparison to the actions of Pope Sixtus V when he heard of the treaty. Sixtus sealed the Treaty of Nemours by excommunicating the King of Navarre and his cousin, the Prince of Condé. He based his excommunication on the grounds that the throne of Navarre was vested in Saint Peter, his successors, and the eternal power of God. As a result, the Papal Bull stripped the King of Navarre of his titles, and denied him and his cousin the right to succeed the French throne. Moreover, the Papal Bull broke all allegiances sworn to the King of Navarre by his vassals. The Treaty of Nemours, and the events that ensued, were responsible for the advent of the War of the Three Henries, the final phase of the Wars of Religion in France.



  • Baumgartner, Frederic J. "The Case for Charles X", Sixteenth Century Journal 4.2, (October 1973":7-98).
  • Konnert, Mark. "Urban Values versus Religious Passion: Chalons-sur-Marne during the Wars of Religion". Sixteenth Century Journal 20.3 (Autumn 1989) pp 387-405 .
  • Sutherland, N.M.. Henry IV of France and the Politics of Religion, 1572-1596 2002

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