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Francis Of Lorraine

FRANCIS OF LORRAINE, 2nd duke of Guise (1519-1563), " le grand Guise," was born at Bar on the 17th of February 1519. As count of Aumale he served in the French army, and was nearly killed at the siege of Boulogne in 1545 by a wound which brought him the name of "Balafre." Aumale was made (1547) a peerage-duchy in his favour, and on the accession of Henry II. the young duke, who had paid assiduous court to Diane de Poitiers, shared the chief honours of the kingdom with the constable Anne de Montmorency. Both cherished ambitions for their families, but the Guises were more unscrupulous in subordinating the interests of France to their own. Montmorency's brutal manners, however, made enemies where Guise's grace and courtesy won him friends. Guise was a suitor for the hand of Jeanne d'Albret, princess of Navarre, who refused, however, to become a sister-in-law of a daughter of Diane de Poitiers and remained one of the most dangerous and persistent enemies of the Guises. He married in December 1548 Anne of Este, daughter of Ercole II., duke of Ferrara, and through her mother Renee, a granddaughter of Louis XII. of France. In the same year he had put down a peasant rising in Saintonge with a humanity that compared very favourably with the cruelty shown by Montmorency to the town of Bordeaux. He made preparations in Lorraine for the king's German campaign of 1551-52. He was already governor 'of Dauphin6, and now became grand chamberlain, prince of Joinville, and hereditary seneschal of Champagne, with large additions to his already considerable revenues. He was charged with the defence of Metz, which Henry II. had entered in 1551. He reached the city in August 1552, and rapidly gave proof of his great powers as a soldier and organizer by the skill with which the place, badly fortified and unprovided with artillery, was put in a state of defence. Metz was invested by the duke of Alva in October with an army of 60,000 men, and the emperor joined his forces in November. An army of brigands commanded by Albert of Brandenburg had also to be reckoned with. Charles was obliged to raise the siege on the 2nd of January 1553, having lost, it is said, 30,000 men before the walls. Guise used his victory with rare moderation and humanity, providing medical care for the sick and wounded left behind in the besiegers' camp. The subsequent operations were paralysed by the king's suspicion and carelessness, and the constable's inactivity, and a year later Guise was removed from the command. He followed the constable's army as a volunteer, and routed the army of Charles V. at the siege of Renty on the 1zth of August 1554. Montmorency's inaction rendered the victory fruitless, and a bitter controversy followed between Guise and the constable's nephew Coligny, admiral of France, which widened a breach already existing.

The conclusion of a six years' truce at Vaucelles (1556) disappointed Guise's ambitions, and he was the main mover in the breach of the treaty in 1558, when he was sent at the head of a French army to Italy to the assistance of Pope Paul IV. against Spain. Guise, who perhaps had in view the restoration to his family of the Angevin dominion of Naples and Sicily, crossed the Alps early in 1557 and after a month's delay in Rome, where he failed to receive the promised support, marched on the kingdom of Naples, then occupied by the Spanish troops under Alva. He seized and sacked Campli (April i7th), but was compelled to raise the siege of Civitella. Meanwhile the pope had veered round to a Spanish alliance, and Guise, seeing that no honour was to be gained in the campaign, wisely spared his troops, so that his army was almost intact when, in August, he was hastily summoned home to repel the Spanish army which had invaded France from the north, and had taken St Quentin. On reaching Paris in October Guise was made lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and proceeded to prepare for the siege of Calais. The town was taken, after six days' fighting, on the 6th of January 1558, and this success was followed up by the capture of Guines, Thionville and Arlon, when the war was ended by the treaty of Cateau Cambresis (1559). Although his brother, the cardinal of Lorraine, was one of the negotiators, this peace was concluded against the wishes of Guise, and was regarded as a triumph of the constable's party. The Guises were provided with a weapon against Montmorency by the bishop of Arras (afterwards Cardinal Granvella), who gave to the cardinal of Lorraine at an interview at Peronne in 1558 an intercepted letter proving the Huguenot leanings of the constable's nephews.

On the accession in 1559 of Francis II., their nephew by marriage with Mary Stuart, the royal authority was practically delegated to Guise and the cardinal, who found themselves beyond rivalry for the time being. They had, however, to cope with a new and dangerous force in Catherine de' Medici, who was now for the first time free to use her political ability. The incapacity, suspicion and cruelty of the cardinal, who controlled the internal administration, roused the smaller nobility against the Lorraine princes. A conspiracy to overturn their government was formed at Nantes, with a needy Perigord nobleman named La Renaudie as its nominal head, though the agitation had in the first instance been fostered by the agents of Louis I., prince of Conde. The Guises were warned of the conspiracy while the court was at Blois, and for greater security removed the king to Amboise. La Renaudie, nothing daunted, merely postponed his plans; and the conspirators assembled in small parties in the woods round Amboise. They had, however, been again betrayed and many of them were surrounded and taken before the coup could be delivered; one party, which had seized the chateau of Noizay, surrendered on a promise of amnesty given " on his faith as a prince " by James of Savoy, duke of Nemours, a promise which, in spite of the duke's protest, was disregarded. On the 19th of March 1560, La Renaudie and the rest of the conspirators openly attacked the chateau of Amboise. They were repelled; their leader was killed; and a large number were taken prisoners. The merciless vengeance of the Guises was the measure of their previous fears. For a whole week the torturings, quarterings and hangings went on, the bodies being cast into the Loire, the young king and queen witnessing the bloody spectacle day by day from a balcony of the chateau.

The cruel repression of this " conspiracy of Amboise " inspired bitter hatred of the Guises, since they were avenging a rising rather against their own than the royal authority. They now entrenched themselves with the king at Orleans, and the Bourbon princes, Anthony, king of Navarre, and his brother Conde, were summoned to court. The Guises convened a special commission to try Conde, who was condemned to death; but the affair was postponed by the chancellor, and the death of Francis II. in December saved Conde. Guise then made common cause with his old rival Montmorency and with the Marshal de Saint Andre against Catherine, the Bourbons and Coligny. This alliance, constituted on the 6th of April 1561, and known as the triumvirate, aimed at the annulment of the concessions made by Catherine to the Huguenots. The cardinal of Lorraine fomented the discord which appeared between the clergy of the two religions when they met at the colloquy of Poissy in 1561, but in spite of the extreme Catholic views he there professed, he was at the time in communication with the Lutheran princes of Germany, and in February 1562 met the duke of Wurttemberg at Zabern to discuss the possibility of a religious compromise.

The signal for civil war was given by an attack of Guise's escort on a Huguenot congregation at Vassy (ist of March 1562). Although Guise did not initiate the massacre, and although, when he learned what was going on, he even tried to restrain his soldiers, he did not disavow their action. When Catherinede' Medici forbade his entry into Paris, he accepted the challenge, and on the 16th of March he entered the city, where he was a popular hero, at the head of 2000 armed nobles. The provost of the merchants offered to put 20,000 men and two million livres at his disposal. In September he joined Montmorency in besieging Rouen, which was sacked as if it had been a foreign city, in spite of Guise's efforts to save it from the worst horrors. At the battle of Dreux (igth of December 1562) he commanded a reserve army, with which he saved Montmorency's forces from destruction and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Huguenots. The prince of Conde was his prisoner, while the capture of Montmorency by the Huguenots and the assassination of the Marshal de Saint-Andre after the battle left Guise the undisputed head of the Catholic party. He was appointed lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and on the 5th of February 1563 he appeared with, his army before Orleans. On the igth, however, he was shot by the Huguenot Jean Poltrot de Mere as he was returning to his quarters, and died on the 24th of the effects of the wound. Guise's splendid presence, his generosity and humanity and his almost unvarying success on the battlefield made him the idol of his soldiers. He attended personally to the minutest details, and Monluc complains that' he even wrote out his own orders, The mistakes and cruelties associated with his name were partly due to the evil counsels of his brother Charles, the cardinal, whose cowardice and insincerity were the scorn of his contemporaries. The negotiations of the Guises with Spain dated from the interview with Granvella at Peronne, in 1558, and after the death of his brother the cardinal of Lorraine was constantly in communication with the Spanish court, offering, in the event of the failure of direct heirs to the Valois kings, to deliver up the frontier fortresses and to acknowledge Philip II. as king of France. His death in 1574 temporarily weakened the extreme Catholic party.

Of the children of Francis " le Balafr6 " five survived him: Henry, 3rd duke of Guise; Charles, duke of Mayenne (1554-1611) (q.v.), who consolidated the League; Catherine (1552-1596), who married Louis of Bourbon, duke of Montpensier, and encouraged the fanaticism of the Parisian leaguers; Louis, second cardinal of Guise, afterwards of Lorraine (1555-1588), who was assassinated with his brother Henry; and Francis (1558-1573).

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

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