The most illustrious branch of the House of Lorraine, named after the town of Guise. It rose to the peak of its power in the 16th century.
Claude, first Duke of Guise, fifth son of René II, Duke of Lorraine; b. Castle of Condé, Oct. 20, 1496; d. Joinville, April 12, 1550. He settled in France as a result of the contest with his elder brother Antoine over the succession to the Duchy of Lorraine. Claude accompanied King Francis I to the war in Italy and received 22 wounds at the battle of Marignano (1515). He defeated the English at Hesdin (1522), drove the Germans from Champagne (1523), and suppressed the peasant revolt in Lorraine (1527). King Francis I created him duke, and he was made governor of Champagne, and distinguished himself in the campaign of 1542 in Luxembourg and in the defense of Landrecies in 1543. It was he who established the eminence of the Guises. In 1513 Claude married Antoinette de Bourbon, sister of Charles, Duke of Vendôme. Among their 12 children were Francis, second Duke of Guise; Charles, Cardinal de Lorraine; Louis, Cardinal de Guise; René, Marquis d'Elbeuf; and Mary, mother of Mary Stuart of Scotland. According to his son Francis, Claude was fatally poisoned.
Mary, daughter of Claude; b. Nov. 22, 1515; d. Edinburgh Castle, June 10, 1560. She married first (1534) Louis II d'Orléans, Count de Longueville, and then in 1538, James V of Scotland, who died in 1542, leaving her with one child, Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary of Guise became regent in 1554.
Francis, second Duke of Guise, one of France's greatest generals, son of Claude; b. Château of Bar, Feb. 17, 1519; d. Orléans, Feb. 24, 1563. He early acquired the reputation of an intrepid soldier; he fought his first battles at Montmédy (1542), Landrecies (1543), and Saint-Dizier (1544) and was scarred by the wound received near Boulogne in 1545 and hence known as "Le Balafré." In 1551 Francis took part in the campaign that won
Metz, Toul, and Verdun for France; in 1552 to 1553 he defended Metz against Charles V of Germany and distinguished himself at the battle of Renty (1554). Francis later commanded the expedition against Naples (1556), after which he was nominated lieutenant-general of the kingdom by Henry II. He also fought against the English, and his capture of Calais (1558) and other places (Guines, Ham, Thionville, Arlon) led to the Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis (1559). With his brother Claude, Francis became all-powerful during the 16-month reign of Francis II, who married his niece Mary Stuart. The duke lost direct influence over Charles IX, who was dominated by Catherine de' Médicis. He formed a triumvirate (with Constable Anne de Montmorency and Marshal de Saint-André) to oppose the policy of Catherine, who was bent on concessions to the Huguenots. On March 1, 1562, he was involved in the Vassy Massacre of the Huguenots, which began the Wars of Religion. After capturing Rouen (October), he defeated the Huguenots at Dreux (December) and besieged Orléans. He was mortally wounded by a pistol shot fired by the Huguenot Jean Poltrot de Méré (February 18). In 1549 he had married Anne d'Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara. His children were Henry, third Duke of Guise; Catherine; Charles de Mayenne; Louis, Archbishop of Reims. Francis was the author of Memoirs.
Charles, brother of Francis; b. Joinville, Feb. 17, 1525; d. Avignon, Dec. 26, 1574. Charles was archbishop of Reims (1538) and cardinal (1547), known as Cardinal de Guise until 1550 and as Cardinal de Lorraine thereafter. Extremely intolerant, he tried to bring the Inquisition to France and was responsible for the cruel suppression of the Huguenot conspiracy of Amboise against the Guises (1560). He became head of the family after his brother's assassination (1563) and conducted an ineffectual and cowardly policy. He was a patron of men of letters such as Rabelais and Ronsard and founder of the University of Reims (1547–49). His daughter Anne d'Arne married Besme (Jean Yanowitz), who was responsible for killing Adm. Gaspard de Coligny during the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. Charles left many letters and sermons, e.g., Oraison prononcée au colloque de Poissy (1562). He also participated in the Council of Trent.
René, Marquis d'Elbeuf, brother of Francis; b. 1536;d. 1566. René took part in the defense of Metz (1552), the battle of Renty (1554), and the recapture of Calais (1558). He was general of the galleys. René was father of Charles de Lorraine, who was later created duke. It is through his line that the House of the Guises has survived to the present day.
Henry I, third Duke of Guise, Prince of Joinville, son of Francis; b. Dec. 31, 1550; d. Blois, Dec. 23, 1588. Scarred by a wound received at Dormans (1575), like his father he was named "Le Balafré." Early in life he participated in campaigns against the Turks (1566) and against the Huguenots at Saint-Denis (1567) and at Jarnac and Moncontour (1569). Henry forced Coligny to raise the siege of Poitiers (1569), directed the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day (1572), and was instrumental in 1576 in organizing the League, of which he became leader. He had ambitions of becoming King of France. On May 12, 1588 ("Day of the Barricades"), he became the idol of the Parisians and master of the crowds in revolt, but he found circumstances unfavorable for a coup against royalty. Guise was assassinated by order of King Henry III at the States-General of Blois. He had married Catherine de Clèves in 1570 and had 14 children, of whom five survived.
Louis, son of Francis; b. Dampierre, July 6, 1555; d. Blois, Dec. 24, 1588. He became archbishop of Reims in 1574 and cardinal in 1578. He supported the League, and like his brother Henry, was assassinated by command of King Henry III.
Charles, Duke of Mayenne, son of Francis; b. March 26, 1554; d. Soissons, Oct. 3, 1611. Charles went to war with his brother Henry and participated in the defense of Poitiers and in the battles of Moncontour and Brouage. He became lieutenant-general of the realm. After the death of his brother Henry, although pressed by relatives (especially his sister Mme. de Montpensier), he refused to contend for the crown; instead he concentrated his ability on giving the League a strong organization. After submitting to King Henry IV in 1596, he served him faithfully. Mayenne married Henriette of Savoy; they had four children, of whom three survived.
Bibliography: h. forneron, Les Ducs de Guise et leur époque, 2 v. (Paris 1877). r. de bouillÉ, Histoire de ducs de Guise, 4 v. (Paris 1849–50). du trousset de valincour, La Vie de François de Lorraine, duc de Guise (Paris 1681). a. bailly, Henri le Balafré, duc de Guise (Paris 1953). h. d. sedgwick, The House of Guise (Indianapolis 1938). For additional bibliography, see wars of religion; league, the holy; st. bartholomew's day, massacre of.
[w. j. stankiewicz]
guise / gīz/ • n. an external form, appearance, or manner of presentation, typically concealing the true nature of something: he visited in the guise of an inspector | telemarketing and selling under the guise of market research.