Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sandberg, Brian, 1968-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of History


France--History--Wars of the Huguenots; 1562-1598; France--Church history--16th century; Catholic Church--France--Clergy--History--16th century; Violence--Religious aspects--Catholics


This dissertation examines the participation of Catholic clergy in religious violence and sectarian conflict at the height of the French Wars of Religion, a series of protracted armed conflicts that ravaged the kingdom of France between 1562 and 1629. It aims to produce a cultural history of clerical militancy at the height of these disastrous wars, when a "Holy League" of extremist Catholics formed across France with the twin goals of eradicating French Protestantism and preventing the crown from passing to a Protestant "heretic," Henri de Navarre. The dissertation investigates the violent practices of militant Catholic clergy in the 1580s and 1590s using manuscript correspondence, administrative documents, religious treatises, polemical pamphlets, and other rare archival sources. Its findings demonstrate patterns of clerical involvement in religious violence and suggest new ways of conceptualizing sectarian conflict. Extremist clergy actively engaged in sectarian conflict by arming themselves, serving in civic militias, concocting assassination plots, and orchestrating violent collective action against their religious and political opponents. The martial practices of Catholic clerics shaped confessional politics and influenced the outcomes of the broader religious conflict in France. The bellicose actions of militant clerics prompt a reconsideration of the possibilities for religious coexistence in early modern France, challenging the prevalent notion that meaningful coexistence between Catholics and Protestants was possible at this time.


Advisors: Brian Sandberg.||Committee members: Sean Farrell; Aaron Fogleman; Vera Lind.||Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 369 pages




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