The desirability of peace was a common topos in sixteenth-century political rhetoric, and the duty of the king to uphold the peace for the benefit of his subjects was also a long-established tradition. However, the peculiar circumstances of the French religious wars, and the preferred royal policy of pacification, galvanized impassioned debate among both those who supported and those who opposed confessional coexistence. This article looks at the diverse ways in which peace was viewed during the religious wars through an exploration of language and context. It draws not only on the pronouncements of the crown and its officials, and of poets and jurists, but also on those of local communities and confessional groups. Opinion was not just divided along religious lines; political imperatives, philosophical positions and local conditions all came into play in the arguments deployed. The variegated languages of peace provide a social and cultural dimension for the contested nature of sixteenth-century French politics. However, they could not restore harmony to a war-torn and divided kingdom. \u
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