Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/House of Guise

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From volume 7 of the work.

100576Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) — House of GuisePierre-Louis-Théophile-Georges Goyau

The House of Guise, a branch of the ducal family of Lorraine, played an important part in the religious troubles of France during the seventeenth century. By reason of descent from Charlemagne, it laid claim for a brief period to the throne of France. The Guises upheld firmly Catholic interests not only in France, but also in Scotland, where Marie de Lorraine and her daughter, Mary Stuart, were allied to them. Their religious zeal, however, was often tarnished by their own violence, and by that of their partisans; it also covered certain plans for political reform that were dangerous to monarchical centralization. Finally, the relations which existed for thirty-five years between Spain and the House of Guise roused the suspicion of French patriotism. In their favour it must be said that the Huegonots were also guilty of many acts of violence, and appealed to England, as the Guises did to Spain, and that the Calvinistic nobility was even more dangerous to French unity than the Catholic. We shall here consider only those members of this famous family who are especially interesting from the viewpoint of religious history.


First Duke of Guise, born at the Château de Condé, 20 Oct., 1496; d. at Joinville, 12 April, 1550, the son of René II, Duke of Lorraine, and his second wife, Philippa of Guelders. Claude de Guise wished to possess the Duchy of Lorraine, to the detriment of his elder brother Antoine, whom he declared illegitimate, inasmuch as he was born during the lifetime of Marguerite d'Harcourt, the (divorced) first wife of René II, but he was obliged to be content with the Countships of Guise and Aumale, the Barony of Joinville, and the Seigniories of Mayenne and Elbeuf, which his father possessed in France. He soon made his appearance at the French court, where he at once gave evidence of his ability to please. He followed Francis I to Italy, and at the battle of Marignano (1515) received twenty-two wounds. He took a courageous part in the campaigns against Charles V, for which Francis I rewarded him by making him master of the hounds and first chamberlain, and by the erection of the countship of Guise to a ducal peerage, an honour hitherto reserved for princes of the blood. Claude de Guise also merited the gratitude of the Catholic party for the struggle which he maintained in 1525 against the bands of Anabaptists attempted to invade Lorraine, whom he exterminated at Lupstein near Saverne (Zabern), 16 May, 1525. His campaign in Luxembourg (1542), the services which he rendered in 1543 by his defence of Landrecies, and his success in quieting the Parisians, alarmed by the approach of the imperial forces, justified the favour of the king, who finally confided to him the government of Burgundy; the Duke's ambition, however, his large fortune, and powerful relatives gave offense to Francis I. It was said that the latter counseled Henry II never to admit the Guises to a share in government, and a popular quatrain current in Paris ran:-

François premier prédit ce point

Que ceux de la maison de Guise

Mettraient ses enfants en purpoint

Et son pauvre peuple en chemise.

In 1513 Claude de Guise married Antoinette de Bourbon (1493-1583), noted for the simplicity of her life, her renunciation of all rich materials in dress, and her great charity toward hospitals, the poor, and orphans. By her he had eight sons and four daughters. If the memoirs of François de Guise, Claude's son, are to be credited, his father died of poison.


Brother of the above, b. 1498; d. 18 May, 1550. He became a cardinal at twenty, the first cardinal of Lorraine. His activity was exercised chiefly in France, where he assisted Claude de Guise to strengthen the ascendancy of his family. Having been sent in 1536 as the ambassador of Francis I to Charles V to reconcile their differences, he warned the king on his return of the unmistakably warlike intentions of the emperor. Even before Claude de Guise had offended the king, the cardinal was regarded with suspicion. He fell into disgrace with Francis I in 1542, but still retained great influence owing to the bounties which he was able to make with his immense revenues, for he had acquired the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, Verdun, Thérouanne, Luçon, and Valence, the Archbishoprics of Lyon, Reims, and Narbonne, and a number of abbeys. "Thou art either Christ or the Cardinal of Lorraine", exclaimed a Roman beggar on whom he had bestowed large alms.


Second Duke of Guise, b. at the Château de Bar, 17 Feb., 1519, of Claude de Guise and Antoinette de Bourbon; d, 24 Feb, 1563. He was the warrior of the family, el gran capitan de Guysa, as the Spanish called him. A wound which he received at the siege of Boulogne (1545), won for him the surname Balafré (the Scarred). His defense of Metz against Charles V (1552) crowned his reputation. After a siege of two months the emperor was obliged to retire with a loss of 30,000 men. François de Lorraine fought valiantly at the battle of Renty (1554). The Truce of Vaucelles, signed in 1556 for a period of six years, followed by the abdication of Charles V, seemed about to end his military career.

The dukes of Guise, however, as descendants of the House of Anjou, had certain pretensions to the Kingdom of Naples, and it was doubtless with the secret intention of defending these claims that François de Lorraine furthered an alliance between Henry II and Pope Paul IV which was menaced by Philip II. In consequence of this alliance François de Guise entered Milanese territory (Jan., 1557), marched thence through Italy, and although neither the petty princes nor the pope gave him the assistance he expected, he took the little Neapolitan town of Campli (17 April, 1557), and on 24 April laid siege to Civitella. At the end of twenty-two days, being threatened at the same time by epidemic and the Duke of Alva, he fell back upon Rome, where he reorganized his army, and was preparing to return southward, when Henry II, after the victory of the Spaniards over the Constable de Montmorency at Saint-Quentin (23 Aug., 1557), summoned him to "restore France".

Guise returned to court (20 Oct., 1557) and was invested with the title of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. He captured the city of Calais (1-8 January, 1558) by taking into account the plans of attack drawn up by Coligny. In June he took Thionville, in July, Arlon. He was about to attack Luxemburg when he was halted by the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (3 April, 1559), concluded by Henry II, despite the protests of the duke. Moreover, Henry was on the point of disgracing François de Guise, at the insistence of Diana of Poitiers and the Constable de Montmorency.

The accession of Francis II (10 July, 1559), however, and his consort, Mary Stuart, niece of François d Guise, was a triumph for the Guise family, and the Constable de Montmorency was disgraced. "François de Guise was supreme in the royal council. "My advice", he would say, "is so-and-so; we must act thus." Occasionally he signed public acts in the royal manner, with his baptismal name only. At the investigation of Antoine de Bourbon and the Prince de Condé, La Renaudie, a Protestant gentlemen of Périgord, organized a plot to seize the person of François de Guise and his brother, the second cardinal of Lorraine. The plot was discovered (conspiracy of Amboise, 1560) and violently suppressed. Condé was obliged to flee the court, and the power of the Guises was increased. The discourse which Coligny, leader of the Huguenots, pronounced against them in the Assembly of the notables at Fountainbleau (August, 1560), did not influence Francis II in the least, but resulted rather in the imprisonment of Condé. The king, however, died, 5 December, 1560-a year full of calamity for the Guises both in Scotland and France (see below, VI. Mary of Guise). Within a few months their influence waxed great and waned. After the accession of Charles, IX, François de Guise lived in retirement on his estates. The regent, Catharine de' Medici, at first inclined to favour the Protestants, and to save the Catholic party, François de Guise formed with his old enemy, the Constable de Montmorency and the Maréchal de Saint-André the so-called triumvirate (April, 1561), hostile to the policy of concession which Catharine de' Medici attempted to inaugurate in favour of the Protestants. The plan of the Triumvirate was to treat with Spain and the Holy See, and also to come to an understanding with the Lutheran princes of Germany to induce them to abandon the idea of relieving the French Protestants. About July, 1561, Guise wrote to this effect to the Duke of Würtemberg. The Colloquy of Poissy (September and October, 1561) between theologians of the two confessions was fruitless, and the conciliation policy of Catharine de' Medici was defeated. From 15 to 18 February, 1562, Guise visited the Duke of Würtemberg at Saverne, and convinced him that if the conference at Poissy had failed, the fault was that of the Calvinists. As Guise passed through Vassay on his was to Paris (1 March, 1562), a massacre of Protestants took place. It is not known to what extent he was responsible for this, but it kindled the religious war. Rouen was retaken from the Protestants by Guise after a month's siege (October); the battle of Dreux, at which Montmorency was taken prison and Saint-André slain, was in the end turned by Guise to the advantage of the Catholic cause (19 December), and Condé, leader of the Huguenots, taken prisoner. Guise was about to take Orléans from the Huguenots when (18 February, 1563) he was wounded by the Protestant Poltrot de Méré, and died six days later. "We cannot deny", wrote the Protestant Coligny, in reference to his death, "the manifest miracles of God."

At the suggestion of Henry II Guise has married in 1549 Anne d'Este (1531-1607), daughter of Hercule II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and of René of France, through her mother, granddaughter of Louis XII; she had been on the point of becoming the wife of Sigismund I, King of Poland. By her Guise had six sons and one daughter. Anne held the Admiral de Coligny responsible for the death of her husband, and her interview with the admiral at Moulins was only an apparent reconciliation. She soon married James of Savoy (d. 1583), by whom she had two children. She lived to see the extinction of the House of Este by the death of Alphonso II, fifth Duke of Ferrara, and to see two of her sons, Henry Duke of Guise, and the Cardinal of Guise (see below) slain at the château de Blois. "Oh great king", she cried before the statue of her grandfather, Louis XII, "did you build this château that the children of your granddaughter might perish in it?" The poet Ronsard sang the praises of the wife of François de Guise, according to the fashion of the time:

Venus la sainte en ses grâces habite,

Tous les amours logent en ses regards;

Pour ce, a bon droit, telle dam mérite

D'avoir été femme de notre Mars.


Cardinal of Guise, b. at Joinville, 17 Feb., 1524; d. at Avignon, 26 December 1574; appointed archbishop of Reims in 1538, cardinal in 1547, the day after the coronation of Henry II, at which he had officiated. He was known at first of the Cardinal of Guise, and as the second Cardinal of Lorraine, after the death of his uncle, Jean (1550), first Cardinal of Lorraine. His protection of Rabelais and Ronsard and his generous foundation of the University of Reims (1547-49) assure him a place in the history of contemporary letters; his chief importance, however, is in political and religious history.

The efforts of this cardinal to enforce his family's pretensions to the Countship of Provance, and his temporary assumption, with this object, of the title of Cardinal of Anjou were without success. He failed also when he attempted, in 1551, to dissuade Henry II form uniting the Dutchy of Lorraine to France. He succeeded, however, in creating for his family interests certain political alliances that occasionally seemed in conflict with each other. He coquetted, for instance, on the one hand with the Lutheran princes of Germany, and on the other, with his interview (1558) with the Cardinal de Granvelle (at Péronne), he initiated friendly relations between the Guises and the royal house of Spain. Thus the man who, as the Archbishop of Reims, crowned successively Henry II, Francis II, and Charles IX had a personal policy which was often at variance with that of the court. This policy rendered him at times an enigma to his contemporaries. The chronicler L'Estoile accused him of great duplicity; Brantôme spoke of his "deeply stained soul, churchman though he was", accused him of skepticism, and claimed to have heard him occasionally speak half approvingly of the Confession of Augsburg. He is also often held to be responsible for the outbreak of the Huguenot wars, and seems now and then to have attempted to establish the Inquisition in France. Many libelous pamphlets aroused against him strong religious and political passions. From 1560 at least twenty-two were in circulation and fell into his hands; they damaged his reputation with posterity as well as among his contemporaries. One of them, "La Guerre Cardinale" (1565), accuses him of seeking to restore to the Empire the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which had been conquered by Henry II. A discourse attributed to Théodore de Bèze (1566) denounced the pluralism of the cardinal in the matter of benefices.

Under Charles IX, the Cardinal of Guise constantly alternated between disgrace and favour. In 1562, he attended the Council of Trent, possessing the full confidence of his royal master. Louis de Saint-Gélais, Sieur de Lansac, Arnaud du Ferrier, president of the Parlement of Paris, and Guy de Faur de Pibrac, royal counsellor, who represented Charles IX at the Council from 26 May, 1562, towards the end of the year were joined by the Cardinal Lorraine. He was instructed to arrive at an understanding with the Germans , who proposed to reform the church in head and members and to authorize at once Communion under Both Kinds, prayers in the vernacular, and the marriage of the clergy. In the reform articles which he presented (2 Jan., 1563), he was silent on the last point, but petitioned for the other two. Pius IV was indignant, and the cardinal denounced Rome as the source of all abuses. In the questions of precedence which arose between him and the Spanish ambassador, Count de Luna, Pius IV decided for the latter. However, in September 1563, while on a visit to Rome, the cardinal, intent perhaps on securing the pope's assistances for the realization of the political ambitions of the Guises, professed opinions less decided Gallican. Moreover, when he learned that the French ambassadors, who had left the council, were dissatisfied because the legates had obtained from the council approval of a project for the "reformation of the princes", which the latter deemed contrary to the liberties of the Gallican church, he endeavoured, though without success, to bring about the return of the ambassadors, prevailed on the legates to withdraw the objectionable articles, and strove to secure the immediate publication in France of the decrees of the council; this, however, was refused by Catharine di' Medici.

When, in 1566, François de Montmorency, governor of Paris and his personal enemy, attempted to prevent the cardinal from entering the capital with an armed escort, the ensuing conflict and the precipitate flight of the cardinal gave rise to an outcry of derision which obliged him to retire to his diocese for two years. In 1570 he aroused the anger of Charles IX by inducing Duke Henri, the eldest of his nephews, to solicit the hand of Margaret of Valois, the king's sister, and in 1574 he vexed the king still more when, through spite, he prevented the marriage of this princess with the king of Portugal. His share in the negotiations for the marriage between Charles IX and Elizabeth of Austria, and for that of Margaret Valois with the prince of Navarre, seems to have won him some favor which, however, was but brief, for Catharine di' Medici knew only too well what a constant menace the personal policy of the Guises constituted for that of the king. Shortly after the death of Charles IX, the cardinal appeared before his successor, Henry III, but died soon afterwards.


Cardinal of Guise, b. 21 Oct., 1527, d. at Paris, 24 March, 1578, the brother of François de Guise and of the second cardinal of Lorraine. He became Bishop of Troyes in 1545, of Albi in 1550, cardinal in 1553, under the name of Cardinal of Guise, Archbishop of Sens in 1561, but resigned the episcopal see in 1562, in favour of Cardinal de Pellevée. He crowned Henry III, 13 Feb., 1575. Contemporary witnesses do not seem to agree with regard to him. L'Estoile calls him a merry gourmet, le cardinal des bouteilles, while Brantôme praises his knowledge and political good sense, especially in his old age.


Queen of Scotland, b. 22 Nov. 1515; d. at Edinburgh, 10 June 1560; sister of François de Guise, and of the second cardinal of Lorraine, and eldest of the twelve children of Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, and Antoinette de Bourbon. Left a widow in 1535, after a year of married life with Louis II d'Orleans, Duke of Longueville, she refused to marry Henry VIII, King of England, but at the express command of Francis I consented to go to Scotland to wed (9 May, 1538) James V, king of Scotland, whose first wife, Margaret of France, had died a year before. By James V she had (7 or 8 Dec, 1542) one daughter, Mary Stuart, and a week later (14 Dec.) she became a widow and regent. Henry VIII sought to take advantage of this regency to establish in Scotland an anti-Catholic influence, and to this end wrung from Mary of Guise the treaty of 12 March, 1543, which promised Mary Stuart in marriage to Edward, his son. Mary of Guise, however, particularly after the death of her advisor, Cardinal Beaton, looked to France for the support of a Catholic policy, and it was decided by the Estates of Scotland (5 Feb., 1548), that Mary Stuart should be sent to that country, Scotland's oldest and most faithful ally, to be married to the young Dauphin Francis, son of Henry II. While the Reformation continued to progress in Scotland, Mary de Guise, through the advice and assistance of her brothers, François de Guise and the second Cardinal of Lorraine, succeeded in maintaining her authority. From Paris her brothers kept her informed of the great success achieved by her daughter, Mary Stuart. "She rules the king and queen", wrote the Cardinal de Lorraine. On the marriage of Henry II with the Dauphin Francis, Henry II desired them to assume the titles of king and Queen of England and Ireland, alleging that Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII, and Anne Boleyn, was ineligible, having been the child of an illegitimate marriage, also a heretic. The Guises hoped for a brief period that as a result of their policy Catholic rule would be established throughout Britain. Nicolas de Pellevé, Bishop of Amiens, and several doctors of the Sorbonne, went to Scotland in 1559 to prevail upon Mary of Guise to put on trial all non-Catholic ecclesiastics. Though of a moderate temper, and though she wrote to the Guises that the only means of preserving the old religion in Scotland was to allow the people complete liberty of conscience, the queen dared not oppose the order from France. A revolt followed; the Protestants pillaged churches and monasteries and entered Edinburgh. John Knox proclaimed the right of insurrection against tyranny; and the assembly of the peers and the barons of the kingdom declared Mary of Guise deposed from the regency (21 Oct., 1559). She was then at Leith, guarded by a troop of French soldiers. They soon overcame the Protestant troops and she was then able to enter Edinburgh, but an English army sent by Elizabeth to the assistance of the Protestant laid siege to Edinburgh, and at this juncture, Mary of Guise died.


Prince de Joinville, and in 1563 third Duke of Guise, b. 31 Dec. 1550, the son of François de Guise and Anne d'Este; d. at Blois, 23 Dec., 1588. The rumours which attributed to Coligny a share in the murder of François de Guise hailed in the young Henri de Guise, then thirteen years old, the avenger of his father and the leader of the Catholic party. While the Cardinal of Lorraine retained the ascendancy and the numerous following of his family, the young Henri, leaving France, had no part in the patched-up reconciliation at Moulins between his mother and Coligny. In July, 1556, he went to Hungary to fight in the emperor's service against the Turks. When he returned to France he took part in the second and third Huguenot wars, distinguishing himself at the battles of Saint-Denis (1567), Jarnac, Moncontour, and at the defence of Portiers (1569) against Coligny. His pretension (1570) to the hand of Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, seriously offended the king, but he was restored to favour on his hastily marrying Catherine de Clèves (1548-1633), widow of the Prince of Porcien and goddaughter of Catharine de' Medici, noted for the frivolity of her youth and for the strange freedom with which she had caused her lovers to be painted in her Book of Hours as crucified.

Between 1570 and 1572 Henri de Guise was much disturbed by the ascendancy of Coligny and the Protestants in the counsels of Charles IX. To similar suspicious fears, shared by Catharine de' Medici, must be traced the St. Bartholomew massacre. Guise was accused of having given the impulse by stationing Maurevers (22 Aug., 1572) on the route taken by Coligny, and when the next day Catharine de' Medici insisted that, in order to forestall an outbreak of Protestant vengeance, Charles IX should order the death of several of their chiefs, Guise was summoned to the palace to arrange for the execution of the plan. For the massacre and the deplorable proportions its assumed, see Saint Bartholomew's Day. during the night of 24 August, Henri de Guise, with a body of armed men, went to Coligny's dwelling, and while his attendants slew Coligny, he waited on horseback in the courtyard and cried, "Is he quite dead?" In repelling the repeated attacks of the Huguenots at the battle of Dormans (10 Oct. 1575) during the Huguenot war, Henri received a wound on the cheek which led to his being thenceforth known, like his father, as Le Balafré. His power increased, and he was regarded as a second Judas Machabeus. His popularity was now so great that a contemporary wrote, "It is too little to say that France was in love with that man; she was bewitched by him."

King Henry III began to feel that his own safety was threatened, the powerful family was beginning to aspire to the throne. In 1576 the Holy League was organized, centered at once about the popular hero, Henri de Guise, and in a few months had at its disposal 26,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry. The object of the League was to defend the Catholic religion in France. Still earlier at Toulouse (1563), Angers (1565), Dijon (1567), Bourges and Troyes (1568), Catholic leagues had been formed, composed of loyal and pious middle class citizens. In 1576, however, the Holy League was established among the nobility and, according to a declaration spread throughout France by Guise, this association of princes, lords, and gentlemen had a twofold purpose: (1) to establish in its fullness the law of God; to restore and maintain God's holy service according to the form and manner of the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman church; to preserve king Henry III in the state of splendour, authority, duty, and obedience owed to him by his subjects, but with the proviso that nothing shall be done to the prejudice of what may be enjoined by the States-General. (2) To restore to the provinces and states of the realm, under the protection of the League, their ancient rights, pre-eminence, franchises and liberties such as they have been from the time of Clovis, the first Christian king, and as much better and more profitable, if improvement were possible, as they could be made under the protection of the League. From the beginning, therefore, a decentralizing as well as a Catholic tendency characterized the League.

The Huguenots soon pretended to have discovered among the papers of one Jean David that the Guises had forwarded to Rome a memoir claiming that, by reason of their descent from Charlemagne, Henry III should yield them the throne of France.

The League was first organized in Picardy, under the direction of the Maréchal de Humiéres, governor of Péronne, Roye, and Montdider, then in other provinces, and finally in Paris, under the direction of the avocat, Pierre Henequin, and the Labruyères, father and son. Henry III, fearing to become a prisoner of the Catholic forces, immediately signed with the Protestants the Peace of Beaulieu, by which he granted them important concessions, but at the States-General (November-December, 1576, the influence of the League was preponderant. By the edict of 1 Jan, 1577, the Court annulled the Peace of Beaulieu, and Henry III even joined the League. This was the signal for two new religious wars, during which the military talents and Catholic zeal of Henri de Guise naturally contrasted with the cowardice and wavering policy of the king. The former stood out more and more distinctly as the leader of the Catholic party, while Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV, now posed as the champion of the Protestants.

In the meantime occurred the death of Francis of Valois (10 June, 1584), brother of Henry III and heir presumptive to the throne. It was at once obvious that the Valois dynasty would become extinct with Henry III, and that Henry of Navarre, leader of the Protestants, would be the natural heir to the throne. Henri de Guise and the League determined at once to provide against the possibility of such an event. On the one hand, pamphleteers and genealogists, with an eye to the future, wrote countless brochures to prove that the Guises were the real descendants of Charlemagne, and that, like Pepin the Short,they might, with the assistance of the Holy See ascend the throne of France. On the other hand Henri de Guise concluded the Treaty of Joinville (31 Dec., 1584) with Philip II of Spain, and had it ratified by Sixtus V. This stipulated that, at the death of Henry III, the Cardinal de Bourbon, Archbishop of Rouen (1520-90), the third son of Charles de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, should be recognized as heir to the crown, "to the exclusion of all French princes of the blood at present heretics and relapsed". The Cardinal de Bourbon published a manifesto to this effect (1 April, 1585). Philip II of Spain granted the League a subsidy of 50,000 crowns a month; moreover the clergy and lower middle classes of Paris organized for the Catholic defence, although the municipality was hostile to the League.

Civil war now broke out, and by the treaty of Namours Henry III took sides with the League and revoke all edicts which granted liberty to Protestants (18 July, 1585). When Sixtus V was assured that Henry III and Henri de Guise had come to an agreement, he launched a Bull of excommunication against the future Henry IV. So long as he was solicited to uphold the Guises against Henry III, the pope had temporized, but now that the League was operating under royal authority, he interfered in favour of the movement. The Guises in the meantime roused all Champagne and Picardy, and took Toul and Verdun. Their lieutenant, Anne de Joyeuse, was defeated at Coutras by Henry of Navarre, but the victories of Henri de Guise at Vimory (26 Oct., 1587) compelled the withdrawal of the German Protestant troops. A secret committee organized the League at Paris. In the provinces it was supported by the nobility, but in Paris it drew its strength from the common people and the religious orders. The secret committee, at first five members, then sixteen, divided Paris into quarters, and in each quarter made preparation for war. Soon 30,000 Parisians declared themselves ready to serve Guise, while in the pulpits the preachers of the League upheld in impassioned language the rights of the people and of the pope. Furthermore, by agreement with Philip II, Guise sent the Duc d'Aumale to overthrow the strongholds of Picardy, in order to assure by this means a way of retreat to the Invincible Armada, which was being sent to England to avenge Mary Stuart, niece of François de Guise, executed at the command of Elizabeth (8 Feb., 1587).

Henry III now took fright and ordered Henri de Guise to remain in his government of Champagne; he entered Paris, nevertheless, in defiance of the king (9 May, 1588), and was welcomed with enthusiasm by the masses. Repairing to the Louvre, accompanied by 400 gentlemen, he called on Henry III to establish the Inquisition and promulgate in France the decrees of the Council of Trent. The king protested and sought to bring troops to Paris on whom he might rely. A riot then broke out, and the people were about to march on the Louvre (Day of the Barricades, 12 May, 1588), but Guise, on horseback and unarmed, rode about Paris calming them. He felt assured that the king, who had made him fine promises, was thenceforth in his hands. The former, however, to escape Guise's tutelage, withdrew on the morrow to Chartres.

Guise was now absolute master of Paris, and for some days was all-powerful. The brilliancy of his victory, however, encouraged the extremist of the League. The Sixteen, now in possession of the municipalities, committed many excesses, while such preachers as Boucher, Guincestre, and Pighenat, cried loudly for civil war. Feeling that he was overruled, Guise now offered to treat with the king, and the latter signed the Edict of Union at Rouen (10 July, 1588), by which he ratified the League, gave Guise various offices of trust, and made him lieutenant-general of the kingdom in opposition to the Protestants, barred Henry of Navarre from succession to the throne, and promised the immediate convocation of the States-general. In this way Henry III gained time.

The States-General assembled at Blois (Sept.-Dec. 1588), the members of the League being in control. Speeches were made, some aristocratic in sentiment, others democratic, but all against royal absolutism; and Guise was thenceforth the leader, not only of a religious, but also of a political movement. The members of the assembly treated Henry II as a sluggard king; the rôle of Guise resembled that of Charlemagne's forebears under the last Merovingians.

At this junction, Henry III determined to rid himself of Guise, and his death was decided upon. Upon taking his seat at table (22 Dec., 1588) Guise found beneath his napkin a note which warned him that a plot was on foot against him. Below the warning he wrote, "None would dare", and threw it away. The next morning he was summoned to Henry III, and was slain by the guards. A carpet was thrown over his body, and the courtiers made sarcastic speeches as they passed, calling him the "handsome king of Paris". Henry III left his apartments to kick the dead man in the face. That same night, Louis, Cardinal of Guise (1555-88), brother of Henri, was assassinated by four archers of the king, who feared less the cardinal should become a peril to the State. The bodies of the two leaders of the League were burned and thrown into the Loire. This double assassination was at once the subject of a multitude of pamphlets.

By Catherine de Clèves, Henri de Guise had seven daughters and seven sons, on one of whom, François-Alexandre (1589-1614), a posthumous son, the enthusiastic Parisians bestowed a third name, Paris.


Duke of Mayenne, b. 26 March, 1554; d. at Soissons, 3 Oct. 1611; son of François de Guise and brother of Henri de Guise. He first bore arms in 1569 besides Henri de Guise at the defence of Portiers against Coligny, then at the battle of Moncontour and at the siege of Brouage. After the close of this war he went to Venice to engage in the campaign against the Turks, became a Venetian lord, and embarked with a fleet to assist the expedition of Don Juan of Austria. He did not return to France until after the massacre of St. Bartholomew. He took part in the fourth Huguenot war, and accompanied the Duke of Anjou to the siege of La Rochelle (1573). Later he followed the duke to his domain in Poland, and when the death of Charles IX made the duke King of France, under the name Henry III, Mayenne escorted him thither. He took part in the sixth and seventh Huguenot wars, capturing Poitou (1577) and Dauphiny (1580). His policy was that of his brother, Henri: alliances with Spain against Henry of Navarre, ultimately against Henry III, to bring about the succession to the throne of the Cardinal de Bourbon and ultimately the Guises. Henry III, it is true, had allied himself with the League by the Treat of Nemours, but Mayenne soon realized the uncertainty of the royal attitude. The Maréchal de Matignon, who governed Guyenne for the king, hindered more than he favoured Mayenne's campaign against the Protestants of the south. When the assassination of Henri de Guise revealed the extent of royal duplicity, Mayenne was at Lyons. Warned by Bernardo de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador, he had time to gain a place of safety before the arrival of Colonel d'Ornano, whom Henry VIII had sent to arrest him. He retired to his government of Burgundy, roused that province and also Champagne, of which his dead brother had been governor, marched on Paris, and began his active share in the history of the League.

Henry III, who had caused the assassination of Henri de Guise, was denounced by the preachers as a traitor, a heretic, and excommunicate. The Sorbonne and the Parlement proclaimed his disposition. Together with the aldermen and the city councillors, representatives of the Parisian middle classes, Mayenne organized the General Council of Union (Conseil général d'union). This council undertook measures in behalf of the whole kingdom, decreased taxes by one-fourth, prepared to defend Paris against Henry of Navarre, called for material assistance from Philip II and for moral aid from the pope, and entered into communion with most of the large cities of the kingdom.

Civil war now raged in France, and many cities took the side of the League and Catholicism against the Protestant Henry of Navarre and the indecision of Henry III. After vainly endeavouring to enter into negotiations with Mayenne, who naturally distrusted the assassin of his brother, Henry III joined forces with the Protestant troops of Henry of Navarre (1 May, 1589). For some time Mayenne waged war against the allied forces, but after the defeat of the Duc D'Aumale at Senlis (17 May), he felt that Paris was threatened and was obliged to fall back for its defence. The united Royalist and Protestant forces received assistance from Switzerland and Germany, while the troops of Mayenne and the League, shut up in Paris (1 June), were cut off from all reinforcements, weakened by desertions, and reduced to 8000 men, when Henry III and Henry of Navarre, with a force of 42,000 began an active siege of the capital (28 July). A sort of terror now seized upon the Parisian populace. Suspicion fell on all; domiciliary visits and proscriptions were the order of the day. Finally the Dominican monk, Jacques Clément, assassinated Henry III, whereupon Henry of Navarre, abandoned by some of his troops, raised the siege.

The throne was now vacant, the Catholics who formed the majority of France being unwilling to recognize the protestant Henry of Navarre. Had Mayenne dared to seize the throne and proclaim himself king, his boldness might have succeeded. With Henri de Guise, however, he had five years previously designated the aged Cardinal de Bourbon as heir presumptive, and while the latter lived it was difficult for Mayenne to pretend to the throne. But the sick and aged prelate was a prisoner of Henry of Navarre; the members of the League were therefore unable to place their candidate securely upon the throne, since he was in the hands of the Protestant pretender. Mayenne assumed the title of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, took the offensive, and set out for Normandy. At Arques, near Dieppe, he vainly offered battle to Henry of Navarre, and after eleven days of skirmishing (September, 1589), withdrew to Amiens. Learning suddenly that Henry of Navarre had stolen on Paris, and had taken by surprise the suburbs of of the left bank of the Siene, he hastened to the capital to compel the retreat of Navarre.

A certain number of moderate Catholics, known as les Politiques, were in favour of the latter, and he agreed with them that within six months he would submit the religious question to a council, and until that event would offer no hindrance to the practice of the Catholic religion. Among the Politiques were some who already cherished the hope that Henry of Navarre would become a Catholic. One of them, Faudoas de Belin, urged Mayenne to join the Politiques and to entreat Henry IV to become a Catholic. While the violence of the Leaguers in Paris caused Mayenne to reflect, he nonetheless did not accept Belin's proposal, and in the spring of 1590, being reinforced from Flanders and Lorraine, he attacked Henry IV on the plain of Ivry (14 March 1590). Being defeated, he was compelled to return to Paris, where he announced to the inhabitants that he was going to seek reinforcements in Flanders, and called upon them to defend themselves energetically. The death of Cardinal de Bourbon (8 May, 1590) left the members of the League uncertain on an important point, namely, who was the Catholic heir to the throne.

Then began, in Mayenne's absence, the famous siege of Paris by Henry IV. Each day the Spanish ambassador, Bernardo de Mendoza, distributed 120 crowns' worth of bread, the papal legate gave his plate to pay the troops, and even the ornaments of the churches were sold. The people satisfied their hunger at the street corners, where they ate from great cauldrons, in which a mixture of oats and bran was boiling, and spent the days in the churches, where twice a day the preachers encouraged them. They assured the people that Mayenne and Alessandro Farnesse, Duke of Parma, would come to their relief. Mayenne, however, tarried, and the famine continued. Henry of Navarre permitted the beggars, women, and students to leave the city, but the provisions still grew less. Men ate the skin of animals, ground and boiled their bones, disinterred the bodies in the cemetery of the Innocents and made food of them.

Mayenne, meanwhile, was negotiating with Alessandro Farnese, governor of the Spanish Low Countries, for reinforcements. He succeeded in sending some troops to the relief of Paris (17 June), and the arrival of Farnese (23 Aug.), who joined Mayenne at Meaux, made it possible to revictual the city. Henry of Navarre was compelled to retire, and Mayenne re-entered Paris (18 Sept.). The war dragged on, but the capture by Mayenne of Château-Thierry in 1591 could not offset the damage done by the occupation by Henry of Navarre of the city of Chartres, regarded as the granary of Paris.

The League now suffered from divided counsels. The young son of Duke Henri de Guise had just left his prison at Tours, and the more enthusiastic members of the League planned his marriage to a Spanish princess, after which they would make him king. Mayenne was considered too lukewarm, and when Gregory XIV, elected 5 Dec., 1590, and more resolutely devoted to the League than Sixtus V, had renewed the excommunication of Henry of Navarre, and hurled anathema against his adherents (March-June, 1591), the faction of the Sixteen, a body drawn from the councils (nine members each) which directed the various quarters of Paris, and about which were gathered more than 30,000 adherents, desired the establishment of radical laws, according to which every heretic, whether prince, lord, or citizen, should be burned alive, also that the new king should make war on all foreign heretical princes. If the young Duke of Guise could not or would not become king, the Sixteen were quite willing, under certain conditions, to accept Philip II as King of France. To assert their power and intentions, they forthwith hung several Catholics of the moderate party; Brisson, first President of the Parlement, and the two councillors Larcher and Tardif (15 Nov., 1591).

This news reached Mayenne at Laon, and he returned precipitously to Paris (28 Nov.); he caused four of the Sixteen to be strangled (4 Dec.) and ranged himself decisively on the side of the moderate party. Negotiation with the victor was henceforth a matter of time. President Jeannin transmitted Mayenne's conditions to Henry of Navarre (8 May, 1592). These were that the latter should abjure Protestantism, that all the places in possession of the Catholics should remain for six years under the protection of the League, that Mayenne should become hereditary Duke of Burgundy and Lyonnais, and grand constable or lieutenant-general of the realm, and that all the members of the League should retain their posts. Henry IV rejected these conditions, and many members of the League were also dissatisfied with them. Mayenne then convoked the States-General (26 Jan., 1593) and announced that they were confronted by the task of electing a king. He adjourned the body until 2 April. Mayenne desired neither a Protestant king nor a Spanish queen, hence his delays. But he was in the midst of the Parisians who were for the most part inclined to have as Queen of France the Spanish Infanta, daughter of Philip II, on the condition she should wed the young Duke of Guise. Mayenne could not openly oppose the project, but he shrewdly caused the Parlement to issue a decree forbidding the transfer of the crown to foreign princesses or princes (28 June, 1593), the result of which was the abandonment of the Spanish match.

Henry IV made his abjuration 25 July, 1593, and on 31 July signed a truce with Mayenne. While the satire "Ménippée", professing to speak for France, held up to public ridicule the favour exhibited towards Spain by certain members of the League, another pamphlet, the "Dialogue du Maheustre et du manat", issued by the Leaguers of the extreme left, cast aspersions on the ability of Mayenne and all but accused him of treason. On 3 January 1594, the Parlement rallied to Henry IV and expressed the desire that Mayenne should treat definitely with him. Paris, moreover, had ceased to be in sympathy with the League, and was preparing to welcome Henry IV (22 March, 1594). Mayenne kept up the struggle for two years longer, assisted by the Spaniards, who, nevertheless, distrusted him since he had prevented their Infanta from becoming Queen of France. Finally, Mayenne retired, discouraged, to his government of Burgundy, and by a definite treaty with Henry IV (January, 1596), declared the League dissolved, retained three places of safety, Soissons, Chalon-sur-Sâone, and Seurre, obtained that the princes of the League should be declared innocent of the assassination of Henry III, and that the debts which he had contracted for his party should be paid by Henry IV to the sum of 350,000 crowns. He resigned his government of Burgundy; but his son, Henri de Lorraine, became governor of the Ile de France (exclusive of Paris) and grand chamberlain. Until his death Mayenne remained a faithful subject of Henry IV and the regent, Marie de' Medici. By his wife, Henriette de Savoie, he had two sons and two daughters.


Fourth Duke of Guise, b. 20 Aug., 1571; d. at Cune (Siena), 30 September, 1640; the eldest son of Henri de Guise. He was arrested at Blois on the day of his father's assassination, and was held prisoner at Tours until 1591. His liberation weakened more than its strengthened the League, for while the Parlement of Paris and the forty members of the League who formed the Council of Union at Paris wished to place Mayenne, the brother of Henri de Guise, on the throne, the faction of the Sixteen and the populace, on the contrary, claimed as king this young Duke of Guise, thus giving rise to dissensions in the League. The chances of the young duke were increased by the possibility of his marriage to the daughter of the King of Spain, Mayenne being already married. But at the States-General of 1593, convoked by Mayenne after the death of the Cardinal de Bourbon, Mayenne diverted the discussion, postponed a decision, and had himself simply confirmed in his position as lieutenant-general of the realm. The Duke of Guise soon ceased to belong to the League. In 1594 he declared himself a subject of Henry IV, and slew with his own hand an old member of the League, the Maréchal de Saint-Pol, who reproached him with betraying the memory of his father. Henry IV completed the conquest of the young duke by the confidence which he placed in him. Despite the longstanding pretensions of the Guises to Provence, the king sent him thither to capture Marseilles from the Duc d'Epernon, who occupied the city in the name of the League. Thus, after 1595, the Duke of Guise, who two years before was on the point of being made king by the League, was in arms against it. Thus ended the political and religious policy of the Guises. Charles de Lorraine married (1611) Henriette-Catherine de Joyeuse, by whom he had ten children. He served under Louis XIII against the Protestants, and, having taken the side of the queen-mother, Marie de' Medici, against Richelieu, retired to Italy in 1631, where he died in obscurity.


Fifth Duke of Guise, son of Charles de Lorraine, b. 1614, d. 1664. He distinguished himself in 1647 and 1654 during the revolt of the Neapolitan Masaniello against Spain by the two ineffectual attempts which he made, with the consent of France, to wrest from the Spaniards for his own benefit the throne of Naples, to which he revived his family's former pretension. He died without issue.

Contemporary documents: Mémoires-journaux du duc François de Guise in Collection Michaud et Poujoulat; Correspondance de François de Lorraine avec Christophe, duc de Würtemberg, in Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire du protestantisme français, XXIV (1875); Mémoires de la Ligue (Amsterdam, 1758); Aubigné, Histoire universelle, ed. Ruble, I-IX (Paris, 1886-97); de Thou, Histoire universelle (London, 1773); Mémoires journaux de l'Estoile; Mathieu, Histoire des derniers troubles de France depuis les premiers mouvements de la Ligue jusqu'à la clôture des Etats à Blois (Lyons, 1597); Journal de siège de Paris, ed. Franklin (Paris, 1876); Palma Cayet, Chronologie novénaire (1589-98); journal d'un curé liguer, ed. Barthélémy (Paris, 1886).Historical works: de Bouiullé, Histoire des ducs de Guise (4 vols., Paris, 1849); de Croze, Les Guise, les Valois et Philippe II (2 vols., Paris, 1866); Forneron, Les ducs du Guise et leur époque (2 vols., Paris, 1878); de Lacombe, Catherine de Médicis entre Guise et Condé (Paris, 1899); Romier, Le maréchal de Saint-André (Paris, 1909); Chalambert, Histoire de la Ligue (2 vols, Paris, 1854); de l'Epinois, La Ligue et les Papes (Paris, 1886); Labitte, De la démocratie chez les prédicateurs de la Ligue (Paris, 1841); Zeller, Le mouvement Guisard en 1588 in Revue historique, XLI (1889). For special treatment of Cardinal de Lorraine's connection with the Council of Trent, consult Dupuy, Instructions et lettres des rois très chrétiens et des leurs ambassadeurs concernant le concile de Trente (Paris, 1654); Hanotaux, Instructions données aux ambassadeurs et ministres de France à Rome (Paris, 1888), preface. lxvi-lxxiii.