Parisians were stunned when they heard of the events in Blois. In the words of the chronicler, L’Estoile: ‘News of these murders and imprisonments which reached Paris on Saturday 24 December, Christmas Eve … greatly upset the town and the people who, taking up arms immediately, began to stand guard day and night. The Sixteen unfurled their old banners and shouted: “murder! fire! blood! revenge!” Everyone said that it was necessary to spend the last denier in one’s purse and the last drop of one’s blood to be avenged on the tyrant (the name given to him (Henry III) in Paris as from now) for the deaths of those good princes of Lorraine’.1 Preachers called on the people to fight the man who was no longer their king, but the Devil incarnate. Jean Boucher, one of the most fanatical, described Henry as possessing ‘the head of a Turk, the body of a German, the hands of a Harpy, the Garter of an Englishman, the feet of a Pole and the soul of a devil!’2 Another preacher, Gincestre called him a ‘wicked Herod’ (‘vilain Hérode’ – the anagram of Henri de Valois) and declared that he was no longer king on account of the crimes he had committed against defenders of the Catholic faith. The people, he said, did not owe him obedience and he asked his audience to indicate by a show of hands their determination to avenge the deaths of the Guise princes. Sitting in the front row was Achille de Harlay, First President of the Parlement. ‘Lift up your hand, Monsieur le Président,’ Gincestre called out ‘lift it higher and higher still, if you please, so that the people can see it!’3 As members of the congregation left the church, they tore down the king’s arms adorning the porch, threw them in the gutter and trampled on them. According to L’Estoile, Pierre Versoris, a distinguished lawyer who had chaired the Third Estate in 1576, died of shock when told of the Blois murders. The Guises were now identified with good and Henry III with evil. The Leaguers set about destroying all objects that reminded them of him. On 2 January 1589 a mob destroyed the tombs of the mignons – Saint-Mégrin,

Caylus and Maugiron – in the church of Saint-Paul. Their rightful resting place, they said, was a gibbet, not a church.