The religious conflicts of sixteenth-century France, particularly the St. Bartholomew's Day massacres of 1572, continue to draw a good deal of attention from historians. What started as a limited coup against the Huguenot leadership became instead a conflagration that left two thousand or more Protestants dead in the streets and ushered in a series of bloody religious battles. Until now, however, historians have been preoccupied with the political aspects of the conflicts, and histories have focused on the roles of the king and high noblemen in the assassinations that sparked the massacres, rather than the mass violence. In this compelling and unique study, Diefendorf closely examines popular religious fanaticism and religious hatred. She focuses on the roots and escalation of the conflicts, the propaganda of Catholic and Protestant preachers, popular religious beliefs and rituals, the role of the militia, and the underground activities of the Protestant community after the massacres. Drawing on a wide array of published and unpublished sources, Beneath the Cross is the most comprehensive social history to date of these religious conflicts.