Henry of Navarre is a powerful man. As the leader of House Burbon, Navarre is, (after the Valois Family) next in line to the Throne of France. All this would have been well and find, since Navarre, Conde, and Henry Valois were all childhood friends, but the Queen of Navarre brought Henry up as a protestant, and the thought of having a Protestant King is enough to send the conservative lords of France into revolt.
Still, many look to Henry to drag France away from disaster. Gifted with a calculating mind and an advanced understanding of how people think, Henry is the epitome of reason and practicality. At first glance, Navarre seem to lack the fire that burns inside his friend Conde, but his close friends know how strong willed and effective he can be. As a man, Henry is moderate, yet flexible enough to go to both extremes. He gives people the benefit of the doubt, yet is prepared for the worst. As a leader, Henry is a realist, yet is not pessimistic of human nature like Guise. He is confident in himself, but respects others and is never arrogant. As a soldier, Henry is a good organizer for logistics, yet despises war. His realm in Marseilles and Southern France is the center of Renaissance, industrial activity. Although he can’t call upon as many knights as Guise, Conde, or the Royal House, Navarre can rely on an increasingly well educated and well trained militia to guard his lands. All of Navarre’s traits complement his best friend Conde’s traits perfectly, and when together, they have almost no weakness.
The Prince of Conde is one of the premier Huguenot Lords in the country. As a cousin of the royal Valois kings, Conde is blessed with wealth, position, and almost everything men desire. He is well versed in the classics and Renaissance writing, and quite an accomplished poet. He is a good rider, a good swordsman, and knows how to be charismatic. His sharp mind and decisive nature has also made him one of the most promising cavalry commander in France. Few so young have such an advanced understanding of how the world works or how to get what he wants. Wild, confident, and just a slight bit cocky, Conde embodies the ideal French cavalier more than anyone else. He takes the initiative and does not think things through when he does them, nor did he ever need to. Whatever problem he can’t solve by himself, the Conde name surly made everything ok. Although confident to the point of arrogance, Conde is never entitled: as one of the most liberal princes in France, he believes everyone is born the same and are just a product of their environment. When Conde’s father dies early in France’s civil war, it is up to him to lead take over the reins as the leader of the Huguenot cause.
Coligny is the well respected admiral of France. He rules over the walled port of La Rochelle, a protestant stronghold defended from land and from sea by the Duc’s disciplined soldiers. As both Conde and Navarre lost their fathers when they were young, Coligny is responsible for bringing the two protestant princes up.
As a soldier, Coligny is the epitome of discipline. He sleeps, eats, fights with his soldiers. As a lord, Coligny is the nominal protector of the Huguenots of France. A personal friend of King Henry, Coligny can boast a very secure position in court. As a man, he is open minded and strong willed, charismatic yet merciless in a crisis. Even to his enemies, Coligny is the ideal French gentleman: he is well behaved and chivalrous, but is always prepared for the worst. He is confident, yet respectful of others. Although a realist with very clear ideas of how the world works, Coligny underestimated the effect War has on people’s chivalric values: a blunder that costs the Huguenots dearly.
Every century has its great scientists: curious men with inqusitive minds whose discoveries are centuries ahead of their time. In 16th century France, that man is Ambroise Pare, the barber surgeon of the royal court. Pare is a barber by trade, but his friendship with Francis helped him become well versed in classic texts. The results of combining Renaissance curiosity with Classical expierence is astonishing. As France descends into civil war, Pare often traveled to the battlefields, and his insightful treatment often saved thousands of wounded soldiers. Even as the fighting intensified and Frenchmen lost their faith, every army of every lord prayed for a visit from Pare on the battlefield.
Charles de Cossé, Count of Brissac, Known as the Thunderbolt of France, de Cosse is widely held to be the greatest general in France on the eve of war. De Cosse fully embodies the French Cavalier’s methodology to fighting. During the Italian wars, it was thanks to his lighting campaigns and brilliant command of the king’s cavalry that the French army won victory at the nick of defeat. He is also an incredible leader of men. During one Italian campaign, de Cosse led his cavalry so deep into enemy territory he was separated from the King Francis’ main army for months. Amazingly, his disciplined soldiers stayed with him without pay and went on fighting. By 1562, when it was clear that civil war looms, both sides sought the services of de Cosse, but the great marshal was nowhere to be found. Rumors have it that he has forsaken bloodshed and taken to the woods, and now lives the quiet life of a woodcutter. It would take much to convince such an intelligent and strong willed man to break his vow and lead men again, but if someone managed it, his side would gain the best cavalry commander in Europe.
To some, Gabriel is the root of the plague that has fallen on France. As Captain of the King’s Scottish Guards, Gabriel was suppose to protect his liege, but during a jousting tournament Gabriel’s lance broke and punctured the eye of Henry Valois, killing the king. Although the dying king pardoned Gabriel, the damage had been done. The last strong Valois king was dead, leaving three young and pampered boys to succeed the throne. As France falls further into chaos, Gabriel is condemned as a witness to his own crime.
Philip of Spain is a man of strong convictions. As the successor of Charles V, the most powerful emperor post-renaissance Europe has ever seen, Philip has quite a legacy to live up to. His expansive wars stretched from Italy to the Netherlands, and encompassed the New World as well. Unfortunately for France, the Emperor’s ambitions goes north as well. Philip had not forgotten the many wars his father fought with the French Kings, and with central order in France nearing collapse, all it takes is one French Lord to ask Philip for help before Spanish influence pours into France like it did all over Europe and the new world.