These battered and broken-nosed old fellows saw many and many a cavalcade of mail-clad knights come marching home from Holy Land; they heard the bells above them toll the signal for the St. Bartholomew's Massacre
, and they saw the slaughter that followed; later they saw the Reign of Terror, the carnage of the Revolution, the overthrow of a king, the coronation of two Napoleons, the christening of the young prince that lords it over a regiment of servants in the Tuileries to-day--and they may possibly continue to stand there until they see the Napoleon dynasty swept away and the banners of a great republic floating above its ruins.
In his first chapter, the author presents the context for the plot by describing the fear and vulnerability felt by English Protestants in the shadow of the St. Bartholomew's massacre
and the failed Armada as well as the sense of desperation felt by English Roman Catholics maddened by years of suppression.
The St. Bartholomew's Massacre
that followed the Royal wedding is not here my concern, except for two factors: its effect of intensifying Sidney's experience, and the further English encounters it provoked, which moreover it associated in his mind with the suffering of the Huguenots.