- January 17 - Huguenots were recognized under the Edict of Saint-Germain
- March 1 - Over 1,000 Huguenots are massacred by the ultra-Catholic Francis, Duke of Guise in Vassy marking the start of the First War of Religion in France. Protestant forces led by Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé and Gaspard de Coligny quickly seize control of Orleans, Rouen, and other cities throughout France.
- September 20 - English forces under John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, land in Le Havre to aid the Huguenots.
- October 26 - Rouen is captured by Royalist forces under Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, who is mortally wounded.
- December 19 - Battle of Dreux. An indecisive battle between Huguenots forces under Condé and Coligny, and Catholic forces under Anne de Montmorency and Guise. Notable is that the official leaders of both armies - Condé and Montmorency - were captured in the battle.