We tend to think OUR time has had a monopoly on bitter religious conflicts, but on today’s date in 1572, which happened to be St. Bartholomew’s Day, the Catholic queen dowager of France, Catherine de Medici, and her son, King Charles IX, decided that the best way to rid their kingdom of troublesome Protestants would be simply to kill them off.
A few days earlier, Catholic and Protestant nobles from across France had come to Paris to attend a noble wedding which, ironically, was intended to bring the rival religious factions closer together.
Things quickly turned ugly, and on the 24th of August the infamous “Massacre of St. Bartholomew” began and quickly spread across the entire country. Among those who perished was a French Protestant composer named Claude Goudimel, who was killed when the massacre reached Lyons.
Fortunately for posterity, not ALL Reformation era rulers were so bloodthirsty. The English Catholic composer Thomas Tallis managed to keep his head through the reigns of alternating Catholic AND Protestant monarchs, and the Protestant Queen Elizabeth the First admired and supported the music of William Byrd, despite his openly Catholic sympathies.
Music Played in Today's Program
Claude Goudimel (1510 – 1572)Comfort, comfort Ye my peopleCathedral Singers; Richard Proulx, cond.GIA 290
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