Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Charles II de Quelenec: Victim of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

When I think of Paris, I have a very different image than others, and I don’t think anyone would envy my image. Many associate the grand old city with the soaring, stark beauty of La Tour Eiffel, outdoor cafes, art and music, high fashion, and fabulous shopping, or perhaps with the medieval grandeur of Le Cathédrale de Notre-Dame. Yet having studied 16th century history and having a close and personal connection to the Huguenots, the word “Paris” evokes sadness for me. This is because of the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of August 1572. (See my post of August 24th). I would love to commemorate each and every name if I could, but as so many Protestants were killed (numbers in the thousands) it would be impossible to do so. Thus I occasionally choose a man or woman to write about, to remember, and to try to flesh out as best I can.

His name was Charles de Quelenec, and he was born in a place called Rostrenen in the Cotes-du-Nord of France around the year 1548. In 1567 (five years before death) he married a woman named Catherine de Parthenay-l’Archeveque. It does not appear that Catherine shared Charles’ fate. She was said to have died in 1631. Upon further inspection I did find more information on Charles, although my inability to read French led me to a translation site. It sounds as if Charles is actually “Charles de Quelenec II” and that he was a “Protestant noble” who was murdered for his faith at the Louvre on the night of the St. Bartholomew’s massacre. This information seems to say he was the son of Jean de Quelenec IV and Jeanne de Moor.

It sounds as if Charles held the rank of captain at the time of his marriage to Catherine. She was quite an educated young lady and was well-respected in her era. I was interested to discover, albeit in the sloppiness of imperfect translation, that Charles was apparently captured at the 1569 Battle of Jarnac. Considering that Louis de Condé had been slaughtered outright, Charles may have considered himself lucky. He suffered through such trials as the absence of his wife and lack of a fair trial (I read through the translation as best I could!) and it sounds as Catherine desired a divorce sometime around 1570. By 1572, Charles must have already felt as if he had gone through a great many battles.

He was staying in the Louvre, a royal palace in the 16th century, and probably felt protected there. As a noble with friends in high places, he likely believed that his Protestant creed would be overlooked. (Which was not always the case; see my post of November 17th). By this time there were certain rumors regarding Charles’ inability to produce an heir. Though French society may have hated the Huguenots, even Huguenots were not immune to gossip and were often just as harangued for one thing or another as were their Catholic counterparts. During the massacre Charles and another man were summoned into the courtyard. Embarking on what they probably thought was a routine mission, they were subsequently killed.

Charles de Quelenec’s young and troubled life ended at the age of twenty-four.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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