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Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France

Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 360
  • Book Info
    Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France
    Book Description:

    In an examination of the Italian presence in France under the Valois and Bourbon monarchs, Heller links the cultural, moral, and political aspects of anti-Italianism with the rise of economic nationalism among the emergent French middle class.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7089-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    This work is a case study of early ethnic conflict in European history. In this ethnic clash a small but powerful Italian diaspora resident in France came under attack by xenophobic elements of the French population during the tumultuous late sixteenth century. An upper stratum of Italian wholesale merchants, bankers, ecclesiastics, and courtiers constituted a quasi-colonial elite which exercised inordinate power in the French kingdom, especially under the last Valois kings Charles IX and Henri III. Italian nobles and courtiers acquired exceptional power and were rewarded with large numbers of offices and pensions. At the same time Italian ecclesiastics acquired...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Nationalism and Xenophobia in Early Modern Context
    (pp. 7-27)

    In 1562 French Catholics and Protestants began killing one another in religious civil war. The conflict over religion that broke out in that year was to drag on for decades. These wars based on religious differences became the main preoccupation of those who lived through the latter part of the sixteenth century. The ups and downs of the interminable conflict, the apparent impossibility of compromise, and the upheaval and death that accompanied the wars shaped the experience of a whole generation of Frenchmen. But the wars of religion that divided sixteenth-century Frenchmen coincided with a less well-known outbreak of hostility...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Italians and the French Reformation: Lyons, 1562
    (pp. 28-50)

    Exploration and discovery became an increasingly popular genre of writing as the sixteenth century progressed. As a result, an expanding stream of books on foreign travel and geography helped to widen the imagination of early modern European readers. A work which was designed to feed this growing demand for geographic knowledge was Antoine Du Pinet’sLes plantz, portraictz et descriptions de plusieurs villes et fortresses, tant de I’Europe, Asie et Afrique, published at Lyons in 1564. It was produced as part of the output of Lyons’s printing industry, one of the most important in Europe. A compilation based largely on...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Italians at Lyons: Usury and Heresy
    (pp. 51-79)

    In the view of Antoine Du Pinet, the objective of the Reformation at Lyons ought to have been the re-establishment of the unity of the city on the basis of the gospel. Such a process of renewal entailed a rejection of the old religion. But it also involved the dissolution of the Italiandominated banking industry, which Du Pinet believed to be the source not of the city’s prosperity, but of its moral and economic troubles. The defenders of a Catholic restoration in the city, of course, had an entirely different religious point of view. Only a return to the Roman...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Italians and the Saint Bartholomewʼs Day Massacre
    (pp. 80-92)

    The traditional view of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre dating back to the sixteenth century has stressed the primary responsibility of the court dominated by Catherine de’ Medici in the affair. In recent years the court’s role in the tragedy has been minimized and the popular nature of the Massacre highlighted. Jean-Louis Bourgeon, notably, has insisted that the mass killings followed not from a deliberate strategy emanating from the court, but rather from its loss of control over events. It was the court’s failure to retain its command over urban politics that allowed popular fury in Paris to explode against...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Background to a Massacre: The Italian Courtiers and Bankers
    (pp. 93-113)

    Until the 1550s Italian influence in France was limited essentially to the realms of economics and culture. The accession of Henri II signified the entry of Italian nobles into the royal court and the growing intrusion of the Italians into French politics. With the support of Catherine de’ Medici, they began to be appointed to important positions at court and in the army.¹ As a consequence, they became involved directly in matters of state. At the same time, the growing financial difficulties of the monarchy deepened the already great dependence of the French Crown on the financial resources and expertise...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Anti-Italian Discourses
    (pp. 114-136)

    Growing Italian influence over the court and over the finances of the kingdom had provoked increasing disquiet during the 1560s. The subsequent Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day and the apparent consolidation of Italian political and economic control of France turned such unease into a storm of hostility. The outburst of anti-Italian xenophobia following the Massacre was directed in the first place against Catherine de’ Medici and her leading Italian courtiers. But it was aimed as well against Italian merchants, bankers, nobles, clerics, and soldiers. While never crystallizing into a fully articulated ideology, these currents of anti-Italian sentiment were expressed in...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Estates of Blois
    (pp. 137-159)

    Following the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day, as we have seen, the Huguenot faction mounted a furious and wide-ranging propaganda attack on the Italians. This ideological offensive helped them to gain the support of the Catholic Malcontents. As a result it allowed the Huguenot party to escape its political isolation. At the same time, a more popular and explicitly Catholic anti-Italianism emerged fuelled by antagonism to the perceived Italian involvement in increasing royal taxation. Hostility against the Italians became rampant in Paris, Lyons, and elsewhere in France. Anti-Italian xenophobia reached a climax on a national level at the Catholic dominated...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The Court Italians and the Gathering Storm
    (pp. 160-182)

    Hostility to Italian influence in France reached national proportions at the Estates-General of Blois in 1576-7. As a result, certain restrictive measures against the financial dealings of the Italians were taken. But as things turned out, these actions by the king amounted to little more than empty gestures. Despite a growing sense of anti-Italian nationalism, the continuing weakness of the French economy and the increasingly desperate financial situation of the monarchy made the continued presence of the Italian merchants and bankers indispensable. Indeed, the power of Italian bankers and courtiers reached its greatest extent under Henri III. It is precisely...

  14. CHAPTER NINE The Flight of the Italians
    (pp. 183-205)

    In the reign of Henri III French hostility against the Italians steadily mounted to its culminating point. At last it exploded in the uprising of the Paris Catholic League on 11 May 1588. As a result of this uprising of the Day of the Barricades, the League seized control of the city. Most of the Italians took flight, an event celebrated in the anonymous pamphletDiscours de la fuyte des impositeurs italiens...¹: ‘Farewell, France, farewell, / You are the place from which unlawfully we have taken flight, / Cursed be the hour of our departure.’² Coincidentally, at Marseilles popular...

  15. CHAPTER TEN The Last of the Italians
    (pp. 206-226)

    The Estates-General of 1588 had attacked what was considered the criminality of the Italians. In the years of League ascendancy that followed, its propagandists sought to recall these mainly financial wrongdoings in pamphlets, sermons, and poems. Recalling the misdeeds of the Italians was a way of keeping the memory of the financial profligacy of the Valois alive in the minds of League supporters. In the meantime, the adherents of Henri of Navarre developed other anti-Italian themes as part of their propaganda. The politique and Huguenot followers of the Bourbon king more and more represented themselves as the patriotic party. It...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 227-230)

    Henri IV ascended the throne as the most self-consciously national monarch France had ever seen. No king until then had insisted on the national character of his rule to the extent of Henri IV. Moreover, this was no mere propaganda campaign from on high. It was a posture that struck a real chord, especially in the hearts of the urban and rural elites of the kingdom. It reflected the triumph of a new collective sense of national identity, particularly in the upper reaches of French public opinion.¹ The promotion of this dynastic nationalism reinforced a willingness to compromise, which made...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 231-266)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-294)
  19. Index
    (pp. 295-307)