Surprise of Meaux

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The surprise of Meaux (La surprise de Meaux) was a conspiracy organised in 1567 by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé to capture Charles IX and the rest of the French royal family. It failed, and sparked the Second War of Religion (1567-1568).


Sensing rising danger to French Protestants, Condé decided to take pre-emptive and preventive action, despite the reservations of Coligny. Taking as his pretext that the king was threatened by Italian plans to capture him, on 28 September 1567 Condé invaded the château de Montceaux in Brie, near Meaux, in order to arrest the king's person. He and his mother, Catherine de Médici, were only able to escape the Protestants by extreme hardship and fled to Meaux and thence to Paris.


This event formed the pretext for new outbreaks of violence. The next day, Saint Michael's day, Catholic priests were massacred at Nîmes in atrocities that came to be known as the Michelade. However, the Second War of Religion which it also triggered did not last long, since the opposing sides lacked the financial means and perhaps the will to engage in battle, and rapidly declined into a few minor operations. The Peace of Longjumeau which ended the war reinstated the status quo ante but was simply a truce in order for each side to rebuild its military forces. The Huguenots installed themselves at La Rochelle during the truce in order to rebuild their forces, and the following battles occurred in the western and south-western provinces of France.


  • Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, Les Huguenots et les Gueux - Etude historique sur vingt-cinq années du XVIe siècle (1560-1585), Bruges, Beyaert-Storie, 1883