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Charles, Cardinal Of Lorraine

CHARLES, CARDINAL OF LORRAINE (1525-1574), French statesman, was the second son of Claude of Lorraine, duke of Guise, and brother of Francis, duke of Guise. He was archbishop of Reims in 1538, and cardinal in 1547. At first he was called the cardinal of Guise, but in 1550, on the death of his uncle John, cardinal of Lorraine, he in his turn took the style of cardinal of Lorraine. Brilliant, cunning and a master of intrigue, he was, like all the Guises, devoured with ambition and devoid of scruples. He had, said Brantôme, "a soul exceeding smirched," and, he adds, "by nature he was exceeding craven." Together with his brother, Duke Francis, the cardinal of Lorraine was all-powerful during the reigns of Henry II. and Francis II.; in 1558 and 1559 he was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis; he fought and pitilessly persecuted the reformers, and by his intolerant policy helped to provoke the crisis of the wars of religion. The death of Francis II. deprived him of power, but he remained one of the principal leaders of the Catholic party. In 1561, at the Colloquy of Poissy, he was commissioned to reply to Theodore Beza. In 1562 he went to the council of Trent, where he at first defended the rights of the Gallican Church against the pretensions of the pope; but after the assassination of his brother, he approached the court of Rome, and on his return to France he endeavoured, but without success, to obtain the promulgation of the decrees of the council (1564). In 1567, when the Protestants took up arms, he held for some time the first place in the king's council, but Catherine de' Medici soon grew weary of his arrogance, and in 1570 he had to leave the court. He endeavoured to regain favour by negotiating at Rome the dispensation for the marriage of Henry of Navarre with Margaret of Valois (1572). He died on the 26th of December 1574, at the beginning of the reign of Henry III. An orator of talent, he left several harangues or sermons, among them being Oraison prononcée au Colloque de Poissy (Paris, 1562) and Oratio habita in Concil. Trident. (Concil. Trident. Orationes, Louvain, 1567).

A large amount of correspondence is preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. See also René de Bouillé, Histoire des ducs de Guise (Paris, 1849); H. Forneron, Les Guises et leur époque (Paris, 1877); Guillemin, Le Cardinal de Lorraine (1847).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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