The fortified parish church: pacification, protection or provocation during the French Wars of Religion?

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Few examples of fortified churches survive from the French Wars of Religion. This article considers how rural parish church building was adapted to war in the diocese of Le Mans. It asks whether such building had continuity with defences dating from the Hundred Years War, or reflected changes in weaponry and military technology. Using the parish of St-Georges-du-Rosay as an example, it explores the influence of iconoclasm, pacification strategies and military campaigns on the construction of a fortified porch at the nave's west end. Comparison with neighbouring churches shows that the surrounding countryside was fortified when League and Royalist troops invested the area in 1589–90; the role of the local seigneur and his affinity to Bourbon or Guise was decisive in the process. However, the article concludes that, as these works were paid for by the curate or fabrique, the fortification of the parish church was principally for parochial defence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-549
Number of pages26
JournalFrench History
Issue number4
Early online date19 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010



  • Iconoclasm
  • Fortification
  • French Wars of Religion
  • La Ferte Bernard
  • Le Mans
  • Guise
  • Bourbon

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