(image source: OUP)
French History has a special section on religion and violence in its latest issue. Some articles touch on legal history:
Political Justice and the Outbreak of the Wars of Religion (Stuart Carroll)
This article presents new archival evidence which illuminates the dynamic of the violence in the Agenais, the ‘laboratory of religious violence.’ It shows how social networks coalesced in 1557-61 and formed into armed factions. It argues that, contrary to what is usually claimed, Protestant violence was not confined to iconoclasm, but was from its inception a highly politicized movement prepared to use force against identified enemies. The kernel of factionalism was a feud, which led to the creation of rival militias well before the outbreak of full-scale military campaigns in 1562. The violence was highly organized, not spontaneous and not inter-communal. In this respect the events in Guyenne are indicative of the political conflicts that would shape the ancien régime and even anticipate the violence that would attend its fall.
Violence by Royal Command: A Judicial ‘Moment’ (1574–1575) (Penny Roberts)
The Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre remains the defining event of religious violence in sixteenth-century France. Its causes have preoccupied historians, its consequences far less so. While some contemporary observers called into question the nature of absolute royal authority, others defended its use as long as it was cautious and judicious. In the wake of the massacre, however, the opposite seemed to be true, as a series of measures were taken against leading aristocrats at court and in the provinces. These included the close surveillance and virtual imprisonment of the king’s brother and the princes of the blood, swift and exemplary justice meted out to some of their close servants, the incarceration of two marshals of France, and the judicial execution of Protestant commanders. Above all, this ‘judicial moment’ of 1574-5 suggested that the monarchy was engaged on a new and threatening track, as the agent of violence against its own nobility, fuelling further discontent.(read more on OUP's website)