The Sword That Divides And Bonds That Tie: Faith And Family In The French Wars Of Religion

by Rosenthal, Joshua Lee.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation explores the relationship between faith and family, specifically French noble families in the sixteenth century and their members' decisions to remain in a community of faith or to join another. The nobility's relationship with religious pluralism is examined by focusing upon a great French noble family that was divided along confessional lines. The Mornay boasted a membership that included the Huguenot counselor, negotiator, and polemicist Philippe Duplessis-Mornay (1549-1623) as well as multiple Catholic bishops; their extended network included several notable Catholic and Huguenot families. The rich collection of sources from the their kin and patronage networks is used as a lens with which the processes and mechanisms of religious selection and perseverance are viewed. Throughout the Middle Ages, family members cooperated in order to advance their fortunes. In the sixteenth century, however, religious division jeopardized this cooperation and threatened their success. Most members remained Catholic but enough converted so that the family was rendered spiritually bifurcated at every level. Members converted for multiple reasons ranging from the religious to rank opportunism. Family did not preserve religious unity but rather facilitated division as members acted as advocates, exploited their relationships, and attempted to win relatives to their communities. When members converted, they formed distinct religious communities within the family. Members of each religious community followed traditional strategies that had brought the family success but they restricted these in order to benefit only 8 members of their own spiritual group. Each community faced particular challenges and achieved different degrees of success. Members of each spiritual group occasionally breeched the divide the confessional divide and cooperated with one another. They did so on a limited basis but in various situations for numerous reasons. Members negotiated the Edict of Nantes and created a national platform for co-confessional existence that reflected their experiences in the family. Members of the different religious communities continued to compete and collaborate with one another for generations within the domain of history. Family facilitated spiritual division, but the social structures of kinship proved flexible enough to accommodate religious pluralism. 9
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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