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Catholic League (France)

CATHOLIC LEAGUE (FRANCE)

CATHOLIC LEAGUE (FRANCE). The Catholic League originated in France in the 1560s, when communities formed local defense organizations to protect themselves against armed Protestants and oppose the implementation of royal policies that gave legal recognition to Protestantism. In 1576, in the wake of the most tolerant royal edict so far, a union of Catholics was formed under the aegis of the nobility in a number of regions, most notably in Picardy, which swore to uphold the faith and protect provincial liberties. King Henry III was able to outmaneuver the nascent league and suppress it. However, in 1584 the death of Henry's younger brother left a Protestant, Henry of Navarre, as heir to the throne. The league was now revived, and its power derived from an alliance between the powerful Spanish-funded Guise family and a radical popular Catholic power base, notably in Paris. In 1588 the league mounted a putsch, seized Paris, and expelled Henry III. When Henry later had the Guise brothers assassinated, large parts of France revolted, dethroned him, and established a regime based on representative institutions and an elective monarchy. Failure to establish a viable administration was due to the financial realities of war against the supporters of Henry of Navarre, undermining the league's appeal as an antitax party. In 1593, internal divisions over the choice of a suitable Catholic king were exploited by Navarre's conversion, removing the major obstacle to his accession. After the loss of Paris the following year, the league slowly crumbled as its leadership was defeated by Navarre; its last strongholds succumbed in 1598.

See also Guise Family ; Henry III (France) ; Henry IV (France) .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumgartner, Frederic J. Radical Reactionaries: The Political Thought of the French Catholic League. Geneva, 1975.

Carroll, Stuart. "The Revolt of Paris, 1588: Aristocratic Insurgency and the Mobilisation of Popular Support" French Historical Studies 23 (2000): 301337.

Diefendorf, Barbara B. "The Catholic League: Social Crisis or Apocalypse Now?" French Historical Studies 15 (Fall 1987): 332344.

Harding, Robert. "Revolution and Reform in the Holy League: Angers, Rennes, Nantes." Journal of Modern History 53, no. 3 (1981): 379416.

Holt, Mack P. The French Wars of Religion, 15621629. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1996.

Ramsey, Ann. Liturgy, Politics and Salvation: The Catholic League in Paris and the Nature of Catholic Reform, 15401630. Rochester, N.Y., 1999.

Salmon, J. H. M. Society in Crisis: France in the Sixteenth-Century. London, 1975.

Salmon, John. "The Paris Sixteen, 15841594: The Social Analysis of a Revolutionary Movement." Journal of Modern History 44 (1972): 540576.

Stuart Carroll

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Catholic League

Catholic League, in French history: see Holy League.

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