House of Guise

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House of Guise
Maison de Guise
Noble house
Arms of Claude de Lorraine.svg
Coat of arms of Claude of Lorraine
Parent houseHouse of Lorraine
Country France
Founded1528 (1528)
FounderClaude of Lorraine
Final rulerMarie of Lorraine (Guise)
Charles of Armagnac (Guise-Armagnac)
Titles
Motto
Dederit'ne viam casus've Deus've

(Shall chance or God provide the path?)
Dissolution1688 (1688) (Guise)
1825 (1825) (Guise-Elbeuf)
Cadet branches

The House of Guise (pronunciation: [ɡɥiz]; Dutch: Wieze, German: Wiese) was a prominent French noble family, that was involved heavily in the French Wars of Religion. The House of Guise was the founding house of the Principality of Joinville.

Origin[edit]

The House of Guise was founded as a cadet branch of the House of Lorraine by Claude of Lorraine (1496–1550), who entered French service and was made the first Duke of Guise by King Francis I in 1527. The family's high rank was due not to possession of the Guise dukedom but to their membership in a sovereign dynasty, which procured for them the rank of prince étranger at the royal court of France. Claude's daughter Mary of Guise (1515–1560) married King James V of Scotland and was mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Claude's eldest son, Francis, became the second Duke of Guise at his father's death on 12 April 1550 and became a military hero thanks to his defense of Metz in 1552 and the capture of Calais from the English in 1558, while another son, Charles, became Archbishop of Reims and a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.

French Wars of Religion[edit]

In 1558, the Dauphin Francis married Mary, Queen of Scots. When the young man became king after his father's death in 1559, the queen's uncles, the Duke of Guise and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, controlled French politics during his short reign.

In March 1560, opposition to the Guise government coalesced into a conspiracy; led by La Renaudie, with support from the Bourbon Prince de Condé.[1] Having been made aware of it the Guise family were able to crush the conspiracy before the king could be seized.[2] The Guise would take the opportunity of the conspiracy to reorient the crowns religious policy; scaling down the persecution of the last 10 years for a new policy of no toleration, no persecution with the eventual hope the two sects would reunify.[3] Still incensed at his involvement in Amboise, the Guise called the Prince of Condé to them, overseeing a quick trial to establish his guilt, only for the death of Francis II and the succession of Charles IX to sever their links to the government.[4] With Catherine assuming the regency for her young son, the Guise departed court; setting themselves up in opposition to her toleration policy in alliance with their rival the Montmorency.[5] In 1562 Catherine would promulgate the Edict of Saint-Germain; Francis returned to court so that he might oppose it, on his way his retinue massacred a Protestant congregation at Wassy, in response Condé went into open rebellion, beginning the French Wars of Religion.[6]

Duke Francis helped to defeat the Huguenots at the Battle of Dreux (19 December 1562) but he was assassinated at the Siege of Orleans on 24 February 1563 while seeking a final victory.[7] His son, Henry, inherited his titles; and under the direction of his uncle Charles began a campaign to accuse Admiral Coligny of orchestrating his fathers assassination.[8] Charles meanwhile led the French delegation at the Council of Trent, converting to the Papal line in 1563.[9] No longer permitted in 1564 to continue his feud with Coligny through legal channels, he and his uncle Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine would attempt to make a show of force in entering Paris, but their entry ended with both besieged in their residence and forced to concede.[10] When in 1566 the crown forced Charles at Moulins to make the kiss of peace with Coligny to end their feud, Henry refused to attend. He would also challenge Coligny and Anne de Montmorency to duels, but they rebuffed his attempts. No longer welcome at court, he and his brother Charles, Duke of Mayenne decided to crusade against the Ottoman Empire in Hungary. In September 1568 he reached his majority, just as Charles returned to the centre of French politics with his readmission to the Privy Council.[11] No sooner was he back on the council, than he began leading the war party to break off the Peace of Longjumeau, which would be annulled shortly thereafter, beginning the third French war of religion.[12] He would fight at Jarnac, Moncontour and defend Poitiers from a siege by Coligny.[11] By the termination of the third war, the Guise would once more find themselves in disgrace from court due both to their hawkish policy and Henry's affair with Margaret de Valois.[13][14]

Having returned to favour, Henry helped plan the assassination of Coligny; a final culmination of his feud that would spiral into the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots in 1572. In 1576, frustrated with the politique direction of the government of Henri III, Guise would be instrumental in the formation of the Catholic League. The death of the royal heir-presumptive, Francis, Duke of Anjou, in 1584, which made the Protestant King Henry of Navarre heir to the French throne, led to a new civil war, the War of the Three Henries, with King Henry III of France, Henry of Navarre, and Henry of Guise all fighting for control of France. Guise began the war by declaring the unacceptability of Navarre as King of France, and his control of the powerful Catholic League soon forced the French king to follow in his wake. In 1588 Guise, with Spanish support, instigated a revolt against the king, taking control of the city of Paris and becoming the de facto ruler.

After an apparent reconciliation between the French king and the duke, in December 1588 King Henry III had both the Duke of Guise and his brother, Louis of Lorraine, Cardinal of Guise (1555–1588), murdered during a meeting in the Royal Chateau at Blois. Leadership of the Catholic League fell to their brother, Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne, who was commander of the armed forces of the Catholic League.

The Duke of Mayenne's nephew, the young Duke of Guise, Charles, was proposed by the Catholic League as a candidate for the throne, possibly through a marriage to Philip II of Spain's daughter Isabella, the granddaughter of Henry II of France. The Catholic League was eventually defeated, but for the sake of the country King Henry IV bought peace with Mayenne, and in January 1596 a treaty was signed that put an end to the League.

Decline from prominence[edit]

After this, the House of Guise receded from its prominent position in French politics, and the senior line, that of the Dukes of Guise became extinct in 1688. The vast estates and title were disputed and diverted by various relatives, although several junior branches of the family (Dukes of Mayenne, Dukes of Elbeuf, etc.) perpetuated the male line until 1825.

Their principal title, Duke de Guise in 1688 was awarded to a branch of the House of Bourbon and afterwards to the House of Orléans. The title, with one exception, was not used by pretenders to throne of France (that is, French throne but-for-the-French Revolution of 1848). One of its heads, Prince Jean, Duke of Guise (1874–1940) nonetheless took it as his title of pretence to the former crown of France, supported by some of the 19th century Orleanist activists. These formed for at the time the junior set of Legitimists – claimants to be senior, rightful descendants of the pre-1848 French Royal Family and supported by restorative movements before, during and after the Second French Empire of Emperor Napoleon III, the last undoubted monarch of France. By the end of the 1880s, a series of republican Presidents during the relatively young French Third Republic largely ended any hope of a restored monarchy.

Dukes of Guise[edit]

See Duke of Guise for a list. See Duchess of Guise for a list of their wives.

Other members of the House of Guise[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Spangler, Jonathan; Richards, Penny; Munns, Jessica, eds. (2015). Aspiration, Representation, and Memory: The Guise in Europe, 1506—1688. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9781472419361

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sutherland, Nicola (1962). "Calvinism and the Conspiracy of Amboise". History. 47 160: 127.
  2. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 115. ISBN 9780199596799.
  3. ^ Thompson, James (1909). The Wars of Religion in France, 1559-1576: The Huguenots, Catherine de Medici and Philip II. Chicago University Press. p. 44.
  4. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. pp. 125–6. ISBN 9780199596799.
  5. ^ Salmon, J.H.M (1975). Society in Crisis: France in the Sixteenth Century. University Paperback. p. 140. ISBN 0416730507.
  6. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. pp. 13–8. ISBN 978-0199229079.
  7. ^ Holt, Mack (2005). The French Wars of Religion 1562-1629. Cambridge University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780521547505.
  8. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. pp. 168–170. ISBN 0199229074.
  9. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–8. ISBN 0199229074.
  10. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 173. ISBN 0199229074.
  11. ^ a b Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 183. ISBN 0199229074.
  12. ^ Holt, Mack (2005). The French Wars of Religion 1562-1629. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 9780521547505.
  13. ^ Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0199229074.
  14. ^ Sutherland, Nicola (1980). The Huguenot Struggle for Recognition. Yale University Press. p. 175. ISBN 0300023286.

External links[edit]