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Gaspard De Coligny

1519-1572. Huguenot* leader and French statesman. Scion of one of the most powerful families in sixteenth-century France, he became the great hero of the first generation of French Protestants and a formidable Calvinist political chieftain. As a member of the noble Chãtillon family and nephew of the powerful Constable Anne de Montmorency, he spent most of his early life in military and public service and eventually was named an admiral of France. Sometime between 1555 and 1560 he was converted and joined the Reformed Church. Historians have debated whether this was basically a religious or a political decision, but he became a leading Calvinist in the wars of religion which began in 1562. After most of the other Huguenot captains were killed, he became the unchallenged political head of the movement. Gaining the favor of Charles IX, he arranged an acceptable peace between Calvinists and Catholics in France in 1570, but the chance of a permanent settlement vanished when he was murdered in Paris with several thousand other Huguenots in the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.*