Francis, Duke of Guise

Francis, Duke of Guise

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Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale (17 February 1519 – 24 February 1563), called Balafré ("the scarred"), was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 soldier and politician.

Early life


Born at Bar-le-Duc
Bar-le-Duc
Bar-le-Duc, formerly known as Bar, is a commune in the Meuse département, of which it is the préfecture . The department is in Lorraine in north-eastern France-Geography:...

 (Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

), Guise was the son of Claude, Duke of Guise
Claude, Duke of Guise
Claude de Lorraine, duc de Guise was a French aristocrat and general. He became the first Duke of Guise in 1528....

 (created Duke of Guise in 1527), and his wife Antoinette de Bourbon
Antoinette de Bourbon
Antoinette de Bourbon was a French noblewoman of the House of Bourbon. She was the wife of Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise...

. His sister, Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise was a queen consort of Scotland as the second spouse of King James V. She was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and served as regent of Scotland in her daughter's name from 1554 to 1560...

, was the wife of James V of Scotland
James V of Scotland
James V was King of Scots from 9 September 1513 until his death, which followed the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss...

 and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. His younger brother was Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Charles de Lorraine , Duke of Chevreuse, was a French Cardinal, a member of the powerful House of Guise. He was known at first as the Cardinal of Guise, and then as the second Cardinal of Lorraine, after the death of his uncle, John, Cardinal of Lorraine . He was the protector of Rabelais and...

. He was the youthful cousin of Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

, with whom he was raised and by birth a prominent individual in France, though his detractors emphasised his "foreign" origin, namely the Duchy of Lorraine.

In 1545, he gained his sobriquet through a wound sustained at the Second Siege of Boulogne. In 1548 he was magnificently wedded to Anna d'Este
Anna d'Este
Anna d'Este, also Anne d’Este was an important princess with considerable influence at the court of France and a central figure in the French Wars of Religion...

, daughter of the duke of Ferrara, Ercole II d'Este
Ercole II d'Este
Ercole II d'Este was Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio from 1534 to 1559. He was a member of the house of Este and the eldest son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia....

 and his French princess, Renée, the daughter of Louis XII
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

.

Military career



In 1551, he was created Grand Chamberlain of France
Grand Chamberlain of France
The Grand Chamberlain of France was one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France, a member of the Maison du Roi , and one of the Great Offices of the Maison du Roi during the Ancien Régime...

. He won international renown in 1552 when he successfully defended the city of Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 from the forces of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, and defeated the imperial troops again at the Battle of Renty
Battle of Renty
The Battle of Renty was fought on August 12, 1554, between France and the Holy Roman Empire at Renty, a northern French secondary theatre of the Italian Wars. The French were led by Francis, Duke of Guise, while the Imperial forces were led by Emperor Charles V of Habsburg.On August 8, the French...

 in 1554, but the Truce of Vaucelles temporarily curtailed his military activity.

He led an army into Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1557 to aid Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV, C.R. , né Giovanni Pietro Carafa, was Pope from 23 May 1555 until his death.-Early life:Giovanni Pietro Carafa was born in Capriglia Irpina, near Avellino, into a prominent noble family of Naples...

 (and probably to further his family
House of Guise
The House of Guise was a French ducal family, partly responsible for the French Wars of Religion.The Guises were Catholic, and Henry Guise wanted to end growing Calvinist influence...

's pretensions to the Angevin
House of Valois-Anjou
The Valois House of Anjou, or the Younger House of Anjou, was a noble French family, deriving from the royal family, the House of Valois. They were monarchs of Naples, as well as various other territories....

 inheritance), but was recalled to France and made Lieutenant-General of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 after the defeat of the Constable de Montmorency at the Battle of St. Quentin
Battle of St. Quentin (1557)
The Battle of Saint-Quentin of 1557 was fought during the Franco-Habsburg War . The Spanish, who had regained the support of the English, won a significant victory over the French at Saint-Quentin, in northern France.- Battle :...

. Taking the field, he captured Calais
Siege of Calais (1558)
The Siege of Calais was fought in early 1558 during the Habsburg-Valois Wars. A French force commanded by the Duke of Guise captured the city of Calais from the English, who had ruled it since 1347.-See also:*Siege of Calais...

 from the English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 on 7 January 1558— an enormous propaganda victory for France— then Thionville
Thionville
Thionville , is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. The city is located on the left bank of the river Moselle, opposite its suburb Yutz.-Demographics:...

 and Arlon that summer, and was preparing to advance into Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 when the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was signed. Throughout the reign of Henry II Guise was the premier military figure of France, courteous, affable and frank, and universally popular, the "grand duc de Guise" as his contemporary Brantôme
Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme
Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme was a French historian, soldier and biographer.-Life:Brantôme was born in Périgord, Aquitaine, the third son of the baron de Bourdeille...

 called him.

The accession of Francis's niece Mary, Queen of Scots, and her husband, Francis II of France
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 (10 July 1559), however, was a triumph for the Guise family, and the Grand Master of France
Grand Master of France
The Grand Master of France was, during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration in France, one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France and head of the "Maison du Roi", the king's royal household...

  Montmorency was disgraced and sent from court. The Duke of Guise and his brother, Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Charles de Lorraine , Duke of Chevreuse, was a French Cardinal, a member of the powerful House of Guise. He was known at first as the Cardinal of Guise, and then as the second Cardinal of Lorraine, after the death of his uncle, John, Cardinal of Lorraine . He was the protector of Rabelais and...

 were supreme in the royal council. "My advice", he would say, "is so-and-so; we must act thus." Occasionally he signed public acts in the royal manner, with his baptismal name only.

The Wars of Religion



In reaction to the power at court of the ultra-Catholic Guise, La Renaudie, a Protestant gentleman of Périgord
Périgord
The Périgord is a former province of France, which corresponds roughly to the current Dordogne département, now forming the northern part of the Aquitaine région. It is divided into four regions, the Périgord Noir , the Périgord Blanc , the Périgord Vert and the Périgord Pourpre...

, perhaps at the distanced instigation of Louis of Bourbon, Prince of Conde, organized an amateurish plot (the conspiracy of Amboise, 1560) to seize the person of the Duke of Guise and his brother Charles, the Cardinal of Lorraine. The plot was discovered and violently suppressed, initiating a series of assassinations and counter-assassinations in an increasingly toxic atmosphere. In the immediate aftermath Condé was obliged to flee the court, and the power of the Guises was supreme. The discourse which Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny , Seigneur de Châtillon, was a French nobleman and admiral, best remembered as a disciplined Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion.-Ancestry:...

, leader of the Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s, pronounced against les Guises in the Assembly of the notables at Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau...

 (August, 1560), did not influence King Francis II in the least, but resulted rather in the imprisonment of Condé, at Charles's behest.

The king, however, died, 5 December 1560—a year full of calamity for the Guises both in Scotland and France. Within a few months their influence waxed great and waned. After the accession of Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

, the Duke of Guise lived in retirement on his estates. The regent, Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

, at first inclined to favour the Protestants. To defend the Catholic cause, the Duke of Guise formed with his old enemy, the Constable de Montmorency and the Maréchal de Saint-André the so-called triumvirate (April, 1561) at the head of the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

, opposed to the policy of concessions which Catherine de' Medici attempted to inaugurate in favour of the Protestants. His former military hero's public image was changing: 'he could not serve for long as the military executive of this extreme political, ultra-montane
Ultramontanism
Ultramontanism is a religious philosophy within the Roman Catholic community that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope...

, pro-Spanish junta without attracting his share of odium," N. M. Sutherland has observed in describing the lead-up to his assassination.

The plan of the Triumvirate was to treat with Habsburg Spain and the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, and also to come to an understanding with the Lutheran princes of Germany to induce them to abandon the idea of relieving the French Protestants. About July, 1561, Guise wrote to this effect to the Duke of Württemberg. The Colloquy of Poissy (September and October 1561) between theologians of the two confessions was fruitless, and the conciliation policy of Catherine de' Medici was defeated. From 15 to 18 February, 1562, Guise visited the Duke of Württemberg at Saverne
Saverne
Saverne is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. It is situated on the Rhine-Marne canal at the foot of a pass over the Vosges Mountains, and 45 km N.W...

, and convinced him that if the conference at Poissy had failed, the fault was that of the Calvinists.

As Guise passed through Wassy-sur-Blaise
Wassy
Wassy , formerly known as Wassy-sur-Blaise, is a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France.Population : 3,294.-History:...

 on his way to Paris (1 March 1562), a massacre of Protestants took place. It is not known to what extent he was responsible for this, but what came to be known as the "Massacre of Vassy" kindled open military conflict in the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

. The siege of Bourges in September was the opening episode, then Rouen was retaken from the Protestants by Guise after a month's siege (October); the Battle of Dreux
Battle of Dreux
The Battle of Dreux was fought on 19 December 1562 between Catholics and Huguenots. The Catholics were led by Anne de Montmorency while Louis I, Prince of Condé led the Huguenots....

 (19 December), at which Montmorency was taken prisoner and Saint-André slain, was in the end turned by Guise to the advantage of the Catholic cause, and Condé, leader of the Huguenots, taken prisoner.

The assassination


In the fourth encounter, Guise was about to take Orléans
Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

 from the Huguenot supporters of Condé when he was wounded on 18 February 1563 by the Huguenot assassin, Jean de Poltrot de Méré, and died six days later, bled to death by his surgeons, at Château Corney. The seminal event of his unexpected death temporarily interrupted open hostilities.

It was not the first plot against his life. A hunting accident — Francis had been appointed Grand Veneur of France in 1556 — had been planned, as Sir Nicholas Throckmorton
Nicholas Throckmorton
Sir Nicholas Throckmorton was an English diplomat and politician, who was an ambassador to France and played a key role in the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.-Early years:...

 informed Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 in May 1560, but the plot was uncovered by one and his five co-conspirators fled.

Family


Guise married in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris from the centre.Inhabitants are called Saint-Germanois...

 on 29 April 1548 Anna d'Este
Anna d'Este
Anna d'Este, also Anne d’Este was an important princess with considerable influence at the court of France and a central figure in the French Wars of Religion...

, daughter of Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and Renée of France
Renée of France
Renée de France was the younger daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany. Her elder sister was Queen Claude of France. She was the Duchess of Ferrara due to her marriage to Ercole II d'Este, grandson of Pope Alexander VI...

. They had seven children:
  1. Henry I, Duke of Guise
    Henry I, Duke of Guise
    Henry I, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Count of Eu , sometimes called Le Balafré, "the scarred", was the eldest son of Francis, Duke of Guise, and Anna d'Este...

     (1550–1588), who succeeded him as Duke of Guise.
  2. Catherine (18 July 1552, Joinville
    Joinville, Haute-Marne
    Joinville is a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France.Its medieval château-fort, which gave to members of the House of Guise their title, duc de Joinville, was demolished during the Revolution of 1789, but the 16th-century Château du Grand Jardin built by Claude de Lorraine,...

     – 6 May 1596, Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    ), married on 4 February 1570 Louis, Duke of Montpensier
  3. Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
    Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
    Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne , or Charles de Guise, was a French nobleman of the house of Guise and a military leader of the Catholic League, which he headed during the French Wars of Religion, following the assassination of his brothers at Blois in 1588...

     (1554–1611)
  4. Louis II, Cardinal of Guise
    Louis II, Cardinal of Guise
    Louis II, Cardinal of Guise was the third son of Francis, Duke of Guise and Anna d'Este. His maternal grandparents were Ercole d'Este II, Duke of Ferrara and Renée of France....

     (1555–1588), Archbishop of Reims
    Archbishop of Reims
    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. Erected as a diocese around 250 by St. Sixtus, the diocese was elevated to an archdiocese around 750...

  5. Antoine (25 April 1557 – 16 January 1560)
  6. François (31 December 1559, Blois
    Blois
    Blois is the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.-History:...

     – 24 October 1573, Reims
    Reims
    Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

    )
  7. Maximilien (25 October 1562 – 1567)