A More Personal Union

Late 1560: Francis II, king of France, develops a cold as a result of late autumn weather. Initially, his doctors fear the sixteen-year-old may suffer complications, but by the middle of the month he has fully recovered.

Francis had always been a sickly child. Short for his age and ugly, he suffered from persistent runny nose and undescended testicles. It is possible that this may have been due to hereditary syphilis; Francis’s grandfathers, Francis I and Lorenzo II Medici, both died from the disease, and it is possible it was passed down through either his mother, Catherine d’Medici, his father, Henri II, or both. All of Francis’s siblings, with the exception of Margaret, died young, and most suffered from health problems their whole lives.

However, by the time Francis was a teenager, any syphilis he may have had seems to have gone latent, and although he would be troubled by ill health for the rest of his life, fortunately the cold he suffered through in late 1560 had no long-lasting effects, and Francis celebrated Christmas that year in the company of his affectionate wife, Mary I of Scotland.


Of course, in OTL, that cold did have long-lasting effects: it killed him stone dead on December 5, 1560, due to abscesses caused by an untreated ear infection. Francis’s death is one of the great points of divergence in European history. The entirety of the next 450 years would be dramatically different had Francis lived longer, long enough to sire an heir. This timeline explores that divergence, and all that results from it.
Interesting POD.

Not sure how much things would change, but I intend to read this so my curiosity can be satisfied. :D

For some reason, all my thoughts at the moment are dirty minded.

Not sure why, because this isn't really good genetic material, but...

Maybe his luck means he's going to mark the beginning of a a long line of kings, instead of signally the ending of one. That's about as clean a version as you can get.
I was actually thinking of implementing an idea like this for my TL but I'm glad someone else thought of it first. :D
1561: France is riven by religious strife. Calvinist Huguenots are gaining in influence, while Catholics resent the Protestant upstarts. Civil war threatens.

The situation is complicated by Scotland. For centuries, Scotland and France have been linked by the “Auld Alliance,” a mutually beneficial arrangement to hold England at bay. But religion has changed things. Most Scots are Protestant; their queen is not. Feeling closer to their coreligionists in England than to their queen away in France, Protestant Scottish nobles, with the help of the English, besieged the French garrison at Leith in 1560, ultimately expelling them. To add insult to injury, the nobles brokered a treaty with England and France that abandoned Mary’s claim to the English throne, a claim she had inherited from her father James V.

To add another layer of complexity, the houses of Bourbon and Guise are colliding in the political arena. The Guises, Francis and Charles, have the advantage that their niece, Mary, is the queen. The Bourbons, meanwhile, are Protestant, and are wily opponents.

Catherine d’Medici, the formidable dowager queen, acts frequently in the name of her weak-willed teenaged son. From the beginning of her son’s reign, however, she must accommodate the Guises, who quickly insinuate themselves into the machinery of court.

In November 1560, a major blow falls on the Bourbon faction. Louis, Prince of Conde, is ordered to court by Catherine, where he is immediately arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to be executed. On January 27, 1561, he is executed in Paris, depriving the Bourbons, and the Huguenots, of a talented and capable leader.

Still, the threat of civil war has not abated, and on February 1, 1561, Catherine issues the Edict of Orleans, which proclaims an end to the official persecution of the Huguenots. It is not a declaration of religious tolerance by any means, but it allows for the possibility of compromise, and tensions decrease slightly.

This does not sit well with the Guises. Fanatically Catholic, Francis, Duke of Guise, and his brother, Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, would like nothing better than to rescind the Edict. But their hands are tied. Despite their enormous influence, they are not as influential on the King as the Queen Mother, and so the Edict stands.

But that does not mean they cannot parry. In France, the Guises are stymied by Catherine; in Scotland, no such obstacle exists. Mary is the ruler there, and her loyalties are firmly with her uncles. Things are in decline in Scotland, though, at least for the Catholics. Daily the Protestant nobles grow in strength, and the church wanes. Something must be done.

The Treaty of Edinburgh, ratified by the Scottish nobles but not by Mary, prevents the French from sending more troops to Scotland, lest they provoke war. So, at the present, Mary has no strong hand in Scotland. Her half-brother, James Stewart, acts on her behalf there, but he is a Protestant, and that won’t do.

Therefore, Mary and her uncles conspire to reestablish a Catholic presence in Scotland. It must be done diplomatically and subtly, through intrigue and politics, rather than military force. And for that they need a reliable, strong Catholic to champion their cause.

Thus, in March, Francis, Duke of Guise, departs France for Edinburgh, to take up the Catholic banner again.
Francis had always been a sickly child. Short for his age and ugly, he suffered from persistent runny nose and undescended testicles. It is possible that this may have been due to hereditary syphilis;
Really? Like, truly????? That's just wrong.
April 1561: Francis, Duke of Guise, arrives in Scotland. From the beginning, there is a clash of cultures. Arrogant, overweening, and blunt, Guise is a poor match politically for the fractious Scots Parliament. But he is a quick learner. The parliamentary tradition is not strong in France, although that may change with the recent convocation of the Estates of Orlean the previous year. So Guise has no background in parliamentary debate upon which to fall. As a result his initial interactions with the Lords of the Congregation are hamfisted.

On April 22, he informs the Lords that Queen Mary wishes to reinstate the old religion in Scotland, and that the Parliament is to pass legislation allowing the free practice of Catholicism and barring Protestantism. If it does not comply, Mary, acting through Guise, will dismiss the Parliament and summon one more to her liking.

This does not go over well.

On April 26, rioting breaks out in Perth, a particularly volatile hotbed of Calvinism, and spreads to other cities, including Edinburgh. James Stewart, the Queen’s Regent, attempts to put down the rioters, but only after five days do the riots burn out. Numerous Catholics are murdered during this period at the hands of enraged Protestants.

May is a month of conspiracies. In Scotland, a band of Protestant nobles, including Lord Ruthven, the Earl of Arran, and Lord Somerville, sign in secret a bond, declaring themselves “to be of one mind, and one hearte [sic]” to expel Guise from Scotland--by force, if necessary. Nicholas Throckmorton, the English ambassador, is a party to the plot, although for reasons of state he cannot be too involved.

In France, supporters of the Guises circle around Catherine d’Medici. Her policy of conciliation towards the Huguenots and relative (for the period) religious tolerance is anathema to them, and they begin to plan her removal. One plot considers abducting the weak-willed King, to use as a puppet monarch. However, a similar plot the year before failed, and the guard around His Majesty is formidable. Other plots consider Catherine’s assassination, or her banishment to the countryside.
Discussion Post:

Spain. I don't think Spain's foreign policy is going to change much re: France if Francis II lives longer, at least not at first, but any of y'all's advice would be appreciated. Elizabeth of Valois might live longer, or die sooner, or one of her miscarriages might be carried to term. If the baby was a boy, this would mean no Philip III being born in 1578.

Navarre. No personal union with France under Henry IV, or at least, probably not. What does a longer lived independent Navarre indicate? Or would it be subsumed into Spain. Or end up in France regardless?

Death of Sebastian I. Still likely to happen? Otherwise, no Iberian Union, maybe no decline of Portuguese Empire.

England, of course, is going to be the most affected if Mary and Francis have a child, since that child would be heir presumptive to England. The pressure on Elizabeth I to marry and produce an English heir is going to be enormous.

Thinking hard now.
Without the Bourbon inheritance of France, Navarre could prove to be a thorn in the side of both France and Spain - they might come to blows over a tiny kingdom, though at this point Navarre south of the Pyrenees is Spanish territory.

And you have the problem of Navarre (or at least its monarchy) being Calvinist, squeezed between two Catholic powers. Wouldn't surprise me to see Navarre enter into some kind of alliance with England.

And you have the problem of Navarre (or at least its monarchy) being Calvinist, squeezed between two Catholic powers. Wouldn't surprise me to see Navarre enter into some kind of alliance with England.
Pretty much. England could rely on Navarre as a check against France or Spain, but it's still a minnow caught between two sharks who are at each other's neck.
Why not have Elizabeth I have a daughter who marries Enric de Navarra then Voila! a Capetian "Angevin" Empire and restart the Hundred years war this time it's between Capetians.
July 1561: Stung by his previous failure, Guise decides to take a more subtle tack. Thanks to the tutoring of James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, he has a much more detailed understanding of the Scottish parliamentary system, and in a letter to Queen Mary he suggests that she increase the number of Burgh Commissioners in the Parliament by granting royal charters to create new burghs in areas that are strongly Catholic. Also, she should attaint a select number of Protestant lairds and create new Catholic lairds in their places, so that she might control two of the three Estates in Parliament. This will allow Mary to pack the Parliament, and the Lords of the Articles (who draft most of the legislation), with her supporters. At that point, she can pass legislation permitting the practice of Catholicism.

He also suggests a “thin-wedge” approach: since the French, a predominantly Catholic power, have passed the Edict of Orleans, which grants freedom from persecution to Calvinists, the Scots should follow their example of enlightened religious tolerance and pass legislation barring persecution of Catholics. Then Mary can ratchet away at the Lords of the Congregation and the Protestants, squeezing the freedom of the Calvinists, until Scotland is once more a Catholic nation.

The letter is delivered to Mary by the hands of George Gordon, the Earl of Huntly, a Protestant but nonetheless, a public supporter of the Guises and Queen Mary. However, Huntly is in fact a spy for some of the more radical Protestant lords. He has been hearing rumors for months that Mary intends to remove the Earldom of Moray from him and transfer it to her brother, James Stewart. Mary is concerned about Stewart’s loyalty, and making him an Earl would be an excellent method of keeping him close. But even if the rumors are not true, they have served to push Huntly, the quondam Earl of Moray, into the arms of the radicals.

Huntly passes a copy of Guise’s letter on to the conspiracy of lords led by Arran. The letter confirms their worst fears: Mary has no intent of allowing the Protestants to worship in peace. Worse, Guise’s plan might actually work. Action must be taken. Guise must be stopped.
Need help. Anyone know anything about the medieval Scottish legal system? Also, French? I'm pretty well up on the English system, but not so much the other two. Any experts would be welcome.
August 1561: The prospect of being encircled by an allied Scotland and France has never been one to warm the hearts of the English, and Queen Elizabeth greeted news that the Lords of the Covenant had broken with the Catholic Church with delight. However, the Protestant lords have passed along a copy of Guise’s letter to the English, and the English queen is deeply unsettled by the idea of a resurgent Catholic Scotland.

Although Elizabeth’s policy has long been to avoid entangling and expensive foreign wars, she has no choice but to quietly prepare for war, against Scotland and possibly against France.

In Paris, the plots around Catherine d’Medici tighten. For some months, she has been planning a colloquy between Calvinists and Catholics in Poissy, in order to hammer out political and doctrinal differences. This conciliatory attitude enrages the hardcore Catholic conspirators, and they ramp up their plans. A plot to abduct her and remove the King from her influence fails when, instead of leaving the capitol for Poissy, she is forced to delay due to a late-summer cold. The conspirators, who planned to abduct her during the journey, lack the necessary nerve to attempt it in the capitol, and so their plans are temporarily stymied, while the Colloquy is delayed two weeks.

September 1561: On September 2, leading Protestant lords and other MPs are delayed from attending Parliament by Catholic partisans long enough for Guise’s cat’s-paw, Bothwell, and other Catholic lords to ram through Acts of Attainder against Arran, Ruthven, the Earl of Glencairn, Lord Gray, and several others. At the same time, Guise’s party announces the creation of enough new royal burghs to give Catholics a majority in the Parliament.

With the temporary upheaval in the Parliament, Guise and his party decide to hold off on further “reforms” until the following week.

Rioting breaks out anew in several Protestant strongholds, but Stewart has more success in putting them down than in April.

Guise basks in his success, enjoying a brief respite before preparing for the coming political battles. Alas for him, it is not to be. On Sunday, September 7, on his way to St. Giles’, which has been reconverted for Catholic usage, he and his small group of retainers are ambushed by masked “bandits” who greatly outnumber the French. They slaughter his men, and drag him from his horse to the ground, where they proceed to hack him to death, leaving his body lying in the street. The “bandits” are almost certainly retainers of the brutal Lord Ruthven, who is a signatory on the Protestant noble’s secret May bond.

Word of Guise’s assassination reaches Paris less than a fortnight later, very fast indeed, but then, it is very urgent news.

With Francis, Duke of Guise, dead, the Guises have lost half their strength. Guise’s dukedom descends to his son, Henry, who is only ten years old. His brother, Charles, is Cardinal of Lorraine, a powerful man, but still less powerful than Francis was.

The timing could not be worse for the Catholic priests and cardinals planning to attend the Queen Mother’s Colloquy at Poissy. At Charles of Lorraine’s instigation, the Catholics, enraged by Guise’s death, boycott the Colloquy. As a result, the Calvinist faction dominates, and their arguments before King Francis are persuasive enough that it is Calvinist doctrine, not Catholic, that is the major influence on the statements issued by the Colloquy. This only serves to further enrage the Catholic nobles and religious in France.
Discussion post:

It looks like more civil strife in Scotland ahead. The Catholics in Scotland aren't likely to come out on top; they just aren't influential enough. Although how long the interreligious conflict will last, I'm not sure.

What does this mean for France? More specifically, what does it mean for "un roi, un loi, un foi"? After all, we have two kingdoms, "deux rois". Does that imply deux lois and deux fois as well? Or will the French try to impose a single law and single faith over both realms? If so, I wish them good luck, 'cause they are going to need it.

I don't think Elizabeth is willing to go to war, not unless the French actually invade Scotland to impose Catholicism at the point of a sword, which doesn't seem likely given their own troubles.

Also, both the Huguenots and the Catholics have already lost their major leaders (Francis of Guise and Louis of Bourbon) thanks to this POD. Will this result in a lowering of tensions or a raising of them? Much to think about.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
It depends, while it does create a power vacuum for the French factions, if there is someone competent enough to take their place they would.