French cities in the sixteenth century were important centers of intellectual culture and local identity. Local elites, including judges and lawyers, wrote legal and historical works that conceptualized their cities as unique communities and projected these specific identities back in historical time. Religious processions also helped to define local communities in spatial and religious terms. Over the course of the century, many French cities experienced an increasing tendency toward oligarchy and a growing social and political role for royal judicial and financial officials. There was a growing tendency in many cities to limit the number of city counselors, and a comparative reduction in the possibilities for popular participation in municipal affairs, such as attendance at general assemblies. The French Crown did attempt to limit the role that judicial and financial officials could play in municipal government through a royal edict of 1547, but these efforts generally proved unsuccessful. Furthermore, even if urban governments found themselves in competition with royal judicial courts in exercising political authority within cities, the prestige of these courts often led municipal officials to work toward having new ones established in their communities. Despite these trends in the growing influence of royal officials and other social elites, however, French cities retained their focus on local rights. French cities played a significant role within the wider political landscape of the French kingdom, and the French kings relied on local elites to keep order. With the rise of Protestant belief by the 1550s, French cities began to experience a considerable amount of religious conflict. During the French Wars of Religion, many cities were occupied by Protestant troops and numerous churches and religious accoutrements were destroyed. Massacres of both Protestants and Catholics took place, including the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris and other cities in 1572 and the Michelade massacre in Nîmes in 1567. With the development of the Catholic League in 1585, French cities again found themselves divided. Ardent Catholics in many cities criticized King Henry III for his alliance with the Protestant Henry of Navarre and, following the assassination of Henry III in 1589, refused to recognize Henry IV’s claim to the French throne. The French Wars of Religion had a strong impact on the lives of people who lived in French cities in the sixteenth century, and scholars are only now beginning to realise that the effects of these conflicts continued to have an impact on the generations that followed.