Huguenot leader; b. Buhy, near Mantes-Gassicourt, Nov. 5, 1549; d. La-Forêt-sur-Sèvre, Poitou, Nov. 11, 1623. On the death of his Catholic father, he became a Protestant with his mother c. 1559. After brilliant studies in Paris, he traveled through much of Europe (1568–72), and returned to argue that France's policy should be anti-Spanish and anti-Hapsburg. He escaped the st. barthol omew's day massacre, went to England, and returned to France in 1573. He became a councilor of Henry IV of Navarre, who sent him on an embassy to England and the Netherlands (1578–81). From 1588 he was the hugue not leader, becoming in 1589 governor of Saumur, where he founded a Protestant academy in 1599 that Louis XIV suppressed in 1685. After Henry's conversion to Catholicism in 1593, Duplessis-Mornay's position declined, but he continued his keen anti-Catholic polemics, especially against the papacy and the Eucharist. In 1600 he lost a debate on the latter to J. duperron and retired to Saumur. His appeal for tolerance, which would have improved the Huguenot position, was supported by an ecumenical spirit: his Traité de la verité (1581) attacked deists; as a moderate Huguenot, he could serve as a mediator with the king; he believed in an equality of all men for religious reasons; and he worked for a Protestant unity until the thirty years' war. He has left many writings defending the religion of the Huguenots, and his Memoires et correspondence, 12 v. (Paris 1824–25).
Bibliography: r. patry, Philippe du Plessis-Mornay (Paris 1933). m. andrieux, Henri IV (Paris 1955). l. pfleger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg (1957–65) 3:608. r. snoeks, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 14:1136–41. r. nÜrnberger, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (3d ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 2:286–287.
[d. r. penn]