Poissy, Conference of

views updated


Held Sept. 9 to Oct. 18, 1561, the Conference of Poissy was summoned by the regent Queen Catherine de Médicis because France was on the brink of civil and religious war and she hoped for a theological compromise between Catholics and Huguenots. Several Catholic leaders, including the Queen and probably the cardinal of Lorraine, were content to seek a national settlement of religion without reference to Rome. The conference met in the refectory of the convent at Poissy near Paris. Of the Protestant deputies the chief was Theodore beza, from Geneva, later assisted by Peter Martyr Vermigli, from Zurich. The moderates hoped for formulas of compromise. But in an opening speech when Beza expounded the Calvinist doctrine of the Presence in the Eucharist, the Catholic prelates would hardly listen. A few days later it was evident that no agreement was possible. A legate, Cardinal Hippolyte d'Este, and shortly after, the Jesuit Diego laÍnez, arrived and diminished the influence of those ready to compromise. The conference dwindled into a few private conversations among theologians. Its failure left Queen Catherine to walk a tightrope between the rival armies. Four months afterward the first of the French wars of religion broke out.

Bibliography: h. o. evennett, The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Council of Trent (Cambridge, Eng. 1940). l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London-St. Louis 193161) 16:153210.

[w. o. chadwick]